This was the first book by Donna Tartt that I read (or listened to). The story is great and beleivable in all its tiny details. I think it pictures very well of how it is to be raised today in the Western society. You don't have to lose your parents (or even one of them) to end up on the somewhat shady side of life. You might just as well have parents who are (physically or mentally) absent and who does not think child-rearing is a particluar interesting topic. But kids survive, even if they don't thrive, or succeed in the "normal" way. The story is very well told, does never get boring and it is brought to a very logical end. I loved this book and will look for others by the author. The narration is also great.
I would definitely buy another book narrated by David Pittu; I probably wouldn't buy another book of this type from Donna Tartt
His characters come to life; he does an amazing job of changing his voice. His cadence is great, his speed is perfect, his delivery is mesmerizing.
No, please, enough angst already
After listening to this book, the fable 'The Emperor's New Clothes' comes to mind. Am I the only one who didn't enjoy this book? (Am I the only one who sees that the Emperor is naked?) So full of angst, stupidity, poor choices and droning on and on. Theo is supposed to be a bright kid but he can't figure out how to tell Hobie about the painting. As an adult, he can't tell Pippa how he feels but he has no problem swindling his customers. He 'loses' his passport and is gobsmacked. Really? If not for the narrator I would have poked my eyes out - so depressing. And such an original (not) ending (spoiler alert), that life is hard and then you die. Who knew! Thanks for the heads' up about life. The story rates a 2 (based on a couple of great characters, Boris and Hobie). The narration is 5 star.
An abbridged version of about 1/3 the length.
It was way too long with detail that, to me, provided absolutly nothing. As a short example: Theo was looking through a florist window and then needed to explained in detail, various flowers before seeing in the windows reflection his girlfriend.
All the above
I hate to say it, but it just might be a chick book, and this is the first of quite a few that I've listen to (chick books) and really didn't like
The characters and the plausibility of the story. It was poorly edited. It took forever to get the point across. I didn't believe in the actions of most of he characters. Only the antiques dealer and his niece were morally acceptable characters.
The narrator was good.
Disappointment and anger. I felt like I had been duped into reading it. I could have course turned it off.
Very good EXCEPT that whole piece of Las Vegas and Boris was a bit tedious. Glad when he fell out of the story, though I suspected he would return later. Why are modern writers so taken with Russians? I am too, I admit, but every "good" book seems to use them for stereotypical thug characters.
A problem with first person "coming of age" tales is that the narrator/character is always innocent, caught in a bad spot and forced to do things they know are wrong, but at a loss to control, having excuses for committing sins and crimes, and being a general "shithead." I admire Tartt's making Theo somewhat less than sympathetic. I shake my head in annoyance at him, but at heart, he still meets the old criteria of "basically good." It may be too convenient. In some ways, "Goldfinch" is like Saul Bellow's "The Adventures of Augie March," yet "Goldfinch" far surpasses "Augie" in its engaging, realistic and interesting episodes. Bellow did the same thing with Augie. Made him an innocent caught in multiple acts inspired by circumstances he just "fell into." Bellow also had implausible, long-winded passages that even in retrospect could have been cut at no loss to the story.
I have a theory about motherless boys -- both fictional and as writers. Boys who grow up without a mother of any kind are a different, needier breed, as children and adults; literature makes great use of this disadvantage. Tartt put two motherless boys together, both with lousy fathers and both with issues around women, romance and sex. In this case, we are not seeing a split personality divided into two characters. These are two complete studies. Theo and Boris are NOT cut from the same cloth. They are thrown together because Boris pursued Theo's innocence and "outsider" status in Las Vegas. Wherever Theo landed, he absorbed the culture around him. He acted as he was expected to in each situation.
But, no matter what travails and adventures Theo, the hero(?) endures, I (the reader) continue to keep my eye on the picture that kicks off the early scenes. The story is about Theo and Boris and art and love and growing up. But The Goldfinch of the title is the thread. And, except for some of Theo's minor thoughts about it, that thread disappears from the plot for hundreds of pages. I, for one, never stopped thinking about it, never stopped wondering why Theo was such a wuss about it, why he never gave the beloved Bird its freedom.
After the big chase scenes that signal the end, with all the misunderstandings, and red herrings, what the story comes down to is that this book is a conglomeration of several religions, philosophies and themes in popular literature and the importance of art. Theo's final soliloquy is boring and self-indulgent. More Hobie, less Theo, I say.
Problems/Questions remain (for me)
1. Why is Theo so stupid? How can he not trust Hobie (a true father/mother figure) and instead put his life so often in Boris' slimy hands?
2. Theo's "romances," such as they were, were empty and expressed no passion, not even toward the beloved unattainable ONE. He simply observes and does not ACT. He is dragged along in an aimless, spineless march to the altar.
3. Did Tartt need to beat us over the head with the allusion to "The Idiot" in order to understand her desire to make a Myshkin out of Theo or maybe it's Boris -- not sure? Once was enough. The near ending backflash of a very early scene with Boris' reading "The Idiot" is downright insulting.
4. The mirroring of the the boy and their fathers is too symmetrical.
5. The big surprise about the contents of the storage shed was good, though not surprising enough. Didn't we all know already its fate was not secure? Why did the explanation of what happened require pages of cat-and-mouse play between Boris and Theo?
6. The rescue and return were implausibly committed. Theo, who had done NOTHING for the entire book, suddenly is alive and self-preserving. Still, he is conforming to the company he keeps. He acted as they would have acted, not as Theo. The real Theo would have died in that scene.
7. I am still not clear where ALL that end of story money came from. It was very convenient to aid in Theo's claim of legitimacy, but it was strange and convoluted. It required way too much explanation. The ending explains why Theo is where he is when the story opens, but the connection is not strong enough. It carries the same maudlin tone as the opening, as if Theo has been left to wander the earth to buy back his soul. Somehow, I just don't find any joy in Theo's redemptive acts. It was too easy.
8. I liked the final conversation Boris had with Theo as the resolution became clear, the honesty from such a liar and poor friend was refreshing, unexpected and it "felt" real, though with Boris, who can be sure?
9. What are we to feel at the end? Does Theo ride off into the sunset of every country he visits making restitution? Does he return and resume his life? Does he win the princess? Do we really care? I felt a bit cheated at the end.
Despite how the above may sound, I did like the book. I started out LOVING the book, and now I just like it. It is worth the investment of time and it is well written, though in places too tediously detailed. There were chapters which held me back from doing anything else. And then there were days I did not return to it for the mind-boggling litanies of who did what, when, how, and the drug-induced monologues that went nowhere.
This is not one I will listen to again, but I do recommend it. As has been said, it compares to "The Corrections" in breadth. It does not measure up to Franzen's "Corrections," despite the thread that keeps it all together. But "Goldfinch" lacked the nuance, the unspoken as well as the end-of-story revelations which made "Corrections" knock you out at the end. "Goldfinch" left me without a strong ending and proper resolution.
But I liked it! Contradictory, I know.
No, especially as an audio book. I got through 10 hours and kept trying, but this book dragged on repeatedly. Just as I thought it would develop, it sank into a poorly edited mess again. I finally gave up during the umpteenth drunken teen moment in Las Vegas. The story has potential with serious editing to tighten the story up and focus on essentials. The performance mY have added to the challenges to connect with this story.
Half df the Las Vegas section, which was bizarrely one dimensional plus some of the initial explosion description and follow up.
I am not sure how this book got so many good reviews. While the main storyline in this book is interesting and you do care about the characters - it is way too long!!! The author stops to describe the most minute details that really have no impact on the story. Don't get me wrong - I love detail and descriptions that make you feel like you are there - that you understand the places in the story - but her descriptions were so long and drawn out that they actually pulled you out of the story. I found myself getting very annoyed because the story would finally move along and then we would have to stop and listen to some description that ultimately had no impact on the story. This book could be about 1/3 of its length and be much better. In contrast I think of JK Rowling and how she is a descriptive writer but it never takes you out of the story - her descriptions pull you in further and make her stories more fascinating. Tartt's descriptiveness kept bringing me out of the story as I felt impatient waiting for the very discreet descriptive moments to finally be over. Details should move a story forward - not stop it. There were particularly action filled parts of the story where things would be getting interesting and good and then - full stop to describe some little detail. It was the most frustrating book I have ever listened to. The story was pretty good if not a bit in your face with its message about life. You must have a lot of time on your hands and a lot of patience to read this book.
I think that the reader is one of the top in the business. Great job!!!
First book, probably last.
Gifted, his dialects and ability to voice the book put him at the top of the list. After this book I got another book simply because he was the reader.
"How I wasted my life after I was in a Bad Situation."
I am an avid "reader"- I prefer to listen to books rather than read them due to the added dimension added by the narrator.
I wouldn't have missed this wonderful book. The intricacy of the characters was outstanding. Though I really disliked the "Russian outlaw" aspect of the book, it fit well into the context of the story.
There were dozens of memorable moments in The Goldfinch. I refuse to ruin the story for future readers.
Strangely enough, I might take Xandra out for dinner... because I had a sneaking suspicion throughout the book that she was a transsexual and I'd love to satisfy my own curiosity!
The story of The Goldfinch was a very gut wrenching one, chronicling the story of a boy who loses his mother in a tragic museum bombing. We watch as he goes from being an ordinary 15 year old boy, to entering the not so pretty world of drug and alcohol abuse. I think if I could have listened to the book in one fell swoop, I would have. I highly recommend this book. The writing is masterful.
This book has been called "Dickensian" and that is a good description of this epic book. However, I found it more like "A Prayer for Owen Meany" (which is also one of my top-10 Audible books) than anything Dickens wrote.
Tartt's use of foreshadowing keeps the suspense at a level where you will have several "drive-way moments". I never found the story "slow" and could not wait to get back to this book whenever I had to turn it off.
The reader, David Pittu, really made this book come alive. The voice he uses for Boris, is just perfect and makes him more real than he would have been if I had read the book.
Don't let the 32+ hours scare you away--every minute is worth listening to.