Reading is a rare privilege.
After having spent the past two weeks in the company of a master, I feel as if my life has now changed forever. After reading a book like The Goldfinch, one doesn’t emerge unscathed.The characters remain, concern for them lingers, and the settings have left an indelible imprint.
Donna Tartt’s latest work encompasses a world unto itself. The tale of a young man enduring- post traumatic stress, the loss of his mother, an obsession with a painting, and uncertain care- had me enthralled from start to finish. Thrown to the winds of fate, Theo Decker is lucky to find one very good and kind man who becomes his guiding light.
By the grace of God, there are writers who have the ability to take the reader by the hand and lead them into the doorway of a world so perfectly described that it ceases to exist in the imagination: it becomes real. Dickens could have written this book; the characters could have been drawn by him as they are that fine.
As it turns out, I am not the only reader to come up with this assessment. While browsing on Goodreads, I was surprised to find that Stephen King chimed in:
” Theo Decker’s mother is killed in a bombing that rocks the Metropolitan Museum of Art; Theo, unharmed, escapes with a valuable painting called The Goldfinch. He carries this symbol of grief and loss from early adolescence into an adulthood fraught with danger and beset by addiction. The long middle sequence, set in a housing development on the seedy, sand-blown outskirts of Las Vegas, is a standout. Tartt proves that the Dickensian novel—expansive and bursting with incident—is alive and well.”
Years ago, our book club read Tartt’s first novel, The Secret History, and then the second, The Little Friend and now surely the best book I have read in 2014, The Goldfinch. As in Girl With A Pearl Earring, a painting is a central theme. The work by Carel Fabritius, a student of Rembrant’s, is beautifully and exquisitely described, and is the thread that pulls us through from start to finish. Depicted is a dear little finch, chained to a perch, sad, and hopeful at once; it is a simple and elegant, much loved painting that has enthralled art lovers and critics for centuries. Tartt describes the masterpiece as one that appeals to children.
Carel Fabritius 1622-1654
If you long to read a book that sweeps you away and becomes an experience, if you love antiques, New York, fine painting, and beautiful writing, you will be captured by this novel. As winter drags on, curl up, and treat yourself to some deep thinking as you become taken up with The Goldfinch.