Monday, November 25, 2013

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

My favorite book of the year!  Amazon's Book of the Year!  One of the New York Times five top works of fiction for 2013!  What else to I have to say to get you to put this book at the top of your Christmas list.  

Thirteen year old Theo Decker and his mother have just finished admiring The Goldfinch, a legendary painting by Carel Fabritius, in a New York art museum when a bomb blast rocks the building.  Theo's mother is killed, and although Theo escapes, he does so with two items that will change his life forever - an heirloom ring given to him by the dying grandfather of a girl who had caught Theo's eye AND the Fabritius painting.   The rest of the novel follows Theo through repeated moves and losses, friendships and relationships, adventures and drug-induced skirmishes.  There is something in this book for everyone.  

I agree with Stephen King, who likened the scope of the narrative to Dickens when he reviewed the book for the New York Times .  He also called it the sort of book that comes along only a few times per decade.  Such is the pattern of Donna Tartt.  I first read The Little Friend in 2002, when I received it as a Christmas gift from my, then, new husband David.  He gave me the book and an Amish rocker that Christmas, and I sat in the rocker and rarely left it until I finished the book.  I went back and read her earlier novel, The Secret History, so I guess that puts me among the Tartt fans who have been waiting over a decade for her next work.  Tartt labors over her story telling, immersing herself in writing, rarely granting interviews and never apologizing for the time that passes between masterpieces.  

I decided not to wait for the book from the library, and downloaded the Kindle version to my iPad and also ordered the Audible audio book so could enjoy listening to the book while I walked and while I worked in the sewing room.  It helped to get me through the nearly 800 pages more quickly, because once I got in to the narrative, I wanted to stay in.  In fact, although it is one of those rare books that I didn't want to finish reading, I pressed through til the end, staying up late on the night before Thanksgiving.  And as soon as I finished the book, I wanted to start re-reading.  The last several pages struck me as a love song to art, in all its forms, and were so lovely that it would do a disservice to the whole book to quote anything out of context.  

I LOVED THIS BOOK!  Final comment.  You be the judge.