Audiobook Review: THE GOLDFINCH by Donna Tartt


A while back, everyone was reading THE GOLDFINCH. Thus, I stayed away. Several people told me they read it in their bookgroups. When I asked how it was, I inevitably got the same answer: long. So, when I saw it at the library on the audiobook shelf, I snatched up all 26 CD’s of it.

THE GOLDFINCH is a tale that covers years in a young man’s life – from the fatal day when a bombing at the Metropolitan Museum of Art takes his mother from him, to time with his friend’s family, to years with his father, to adulthood back in NYC where he works in an antique shop, gets involved in the “art underground”, and tries to reconnect with a girl he has always been fascinated by, a girl he first saw the day of the bombing. This story fascinated me and held me, even though it is long. I loved Tartt’s writing and how she captured the characters and sense of place.

In the beginning, Theo Decker is just thirteen and living with his mother in New York. They go to see some art at the MET that his mother likes and it is clear that they share a special relationship. Theo is enjoying himself and has his eye on a red-headed teenage girl with her grandfather when the bomb blast happens. Theo panics. He  can’t find his mother. In his confused state he finds the grandfather and takes a ring from him. He then takes a picture his mother loves – The Goldfinch – from the wall and puts it in his bag. Within days, Social Services arrives at this apartment as they know his mother is missing/dead. Theo goes to live with a wealthy classmate and his family, the Barbours. The family is fairly dysfunctional, though Theo and Andy get along well. Andy’s older brother terrifies Theo and his younger sister is rather annoying. In time his father comes to look for him, with his girlfriend Xandra, and Theo heads out to live with them and their small dog in Las Vegas. In Vegas he meets Boris, his only friend, and together they spend a lot of time hanging out. In time, Theo’s father dies and he heads back to NYC, to an antique shop where the friend of the girl’s grandfather lives. The parts of his life begin to merge together at this point as Theo tries to win over Pippa (the girl), makes a name for himself in antiques with the older gentleman, has Boris re-enter his life, gets into the art forgery business, and grows into adulthood and into a relationship with Andy’s younger sister. All the time, the priceless portrait of the Goldfinch is hidden in his bag.

Okay – that is way more summary info than I usually give in a review, but it gives you an idea of the scope of this book. That said, when I finally got to the end I was a bit disappointed as I felt that I was left hanging. What happened? What did he decide? Is there a sequel?? The writing is beautiful and the narration was truly spectacular — this was my favorite audiobook narration ever! David Pittu was the narrator and he did an amazing job. I LOVED his husky-voiced Xandra; I LOVED his spot-on accented Boris. He was one reason I liked this book so much.

So apparently I’m not the only one who thinks this is a well-written story, as it won the Pulitzer for Fiction for 2013.

Highly recommended – but also a really great listen! Let me know if you’ve read it already and what you thought about it.

Let me know what you think!

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