Wednesday, December 10, 2014

“The Goldfinch: A Novel” by Donna Tartt

I know the Christmas season is upon us so maybe a novel of 784 pages won't be at the top of a things to do list. The Book I'm referring to is "The Goldfinch: A Novel" by Donna Tartt.

First, I should say that The Goldfinch has won numerous awards, including the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and the National Book Critics Circle Award: Fiction Finalists. That alone should say that it is a well written book.

Theo Decker is 13 when he and his mother decide to visit the New York Art Museum. They are on their way to Theo's school to discuss a possible suspension but they detour into the museum to get out of a driving rain storm. Theo is transfixed by a painting entitled The Goldfinch so lags behind his mother. It is at that moment that a terrorist sets a bomb off in the museum. Theo is briefly knocked out by the blast. When he comes to, he assists a dying man who gives him a ring with instructions who to take it to. Also he tells Theo to take the painting of the Goldfinch.

Theo's mother was killed in the blast which leaves Theo searching for places to grow up and places to stash his beautiful possession, the world prized, very valuable painting. He lives briefly with a society family of New York, then sent to live with his Dad and stepmother in Las Vegas.  And, eventually back to New York. The novel is narrated by Theo as he looks back at this time in his life.

This book is written in such a way that it can be left and then picked up again, making it a candidate for starting this busy time of year. I know because I did that very thing. The story is character based and so descriptive that I never lost the place or plot.

Now, here is my suggestion. Listen to it. David Pittu is an excellent narrator. Actually, I can't say enough about how well he reads this novel. Theo has a best friend named Boris, an Ukrainian immigrant, who plays a big part in Theo's life. Pittu is outstanding in bringing Boris's accent and personality alive along with his Russian friends. Hobie, another central character, steps right out of the book and into your mind.

The book covers many years of Theo's life--maybe 25 or more. And, according to the information it will take about that many hours to listen to it. It is well worth the time, especially since you can wrap gifts and bake cookies while you do. Without giving away any of the plot, it is guaranteed to make your heart race.  You will also cry, laugh, and think--especially think. At times it can be rather "deep" but I will say that this is the best book I read (listened to) this year--perhaps for several years.