By Donna Tartt
Finish Time: 2 weeks. This is a long book. That is the problem with eBooks, I had no idea what I was getting into (although I guess I could have checked!). Not to mention my new Kindle Paperwhite likes to tell me how much time I have left in a chapter, but is no where close. Now according to my husband, I’m a pretty fast reader (in comparison), but when my Kindle tells me I have 17 minutes left in a chapter, and I’m still working on it 45 minutes later, I think there’s a bit of a glitch.
That all being said, this is the first book I have paid for in a long time (minus any Bible study books or gifts). I read and finished some 50+ books in 2013 but none appeared on the best seller list so I felt the need to check off just one. After reading a few reviews, but mainly making my purchase on it’s 4 star Amazon & Goodreads reviews, I decided to dive in. I don’t like to be negative, but it was a bit underwhelming.
If you’d like a better summary, read some of the 2,000+ reviews on Amazon or 3,600+ on Goodreads. But the book follows Theodore Decker from the age of 13 into adulthood. The book begins with the tragic death of his mother and introduces the reader to “The Goldfinch”, a painting by Carel Fabritius (see below), which pops up occasionally in the first half of the book, but then is the meat of the story after the mid-point. And I’d have to say, the last 40% or so was much better than the first, but got pretty deep and philosophical at points and after 700 pages and reading late at night, was a tough read for me. Not a bad thing, I think I just wasn’t in the right mind-set to appreciate.
It was well-written, very descriptive, I felt like I knew each of the characters introduced throughout the book. I wanted to reach through the pages and shake Theo, as he was so frustrating and continued to make poor choices, yet being incredibly smart. Many of his actions were calculated, but others I never really did come to understand. And Boris, while entertaining and somewhat unpredictable, I never did really trust, and he just made me mad too. I enjoyed the interactions with the Barbours, but just felt bad for them. Hobie was an interesting character, but I found myself almost feeling bad for him at many points too. And then Pippa, I’ll just say I wish things were different there and leave it at that.
Then, as mentioned above, the end got deep. Exploring good vs bad, and a line that stuck with me was about coincidences really being God wanting to be anonymous. An opportunity the Christian in me would have liked to dive into deeper, but I think that was one of the only mentions of God. And I think reading late at night, much of the “deep” discussion was lost on me, as after so long, I was ready to move along.
It was very well written, just not my taste, or maybe one to try again at another time. It’s the kind of book, I should have done a bit more research on before reading and I may have enjoyed more in a different state of mind. The overall tone was not happy and with it being so long, I was really ready for it to end. The ending was fine and not predictable, which I did enjoy and kept me turning the pages to see what happened. If you get a chance to read it and have a few weeks, you may enjoy and hopefully I haven’t ruined it. I’m just ready for something new – now to figure out what that will be. Thanks for reading, I’d love to hear your thoughts if you have read the book as well!