Longlisted – Baileys Women’s Prize 2014
Audie Award Finalist, Literary Fiction, 2013
Aged 13, Theo Decker, son of a devoted mother and a reckless, largely absent father, survives an accident that otherwise tears his life apart. Alone and rudderless in New York, he is taken in by the family of a wealthy friend. He is tormented by an unbearable longing for his mother, and down the years clings to one thing that reminds him of her: a small, strangely captivating painting that ultimately draws him into the criminal underworld.
As he grows up, Theo learns to glide between the drawing rooms of the rich and the dusty antiques store where he works. He is alienated and in love - and his talisman, the painting, places him at the centre of a narrowing, ever more dangerous circle.
The Goldfinch is a haunted odyssey through present-day America and a drama of enthralling power. Combining unforgettably vivid characters and thrilling suspense, it is a beautiful, addictive triumph - a sweeping story of loss and obsession, of survival and self-invention, of the deepest mysteries of love, identity and fate.
©2013 Tay Ltd (P)2013 Hachette Audio
This is a delightfully crafted tale about choices and their consequences. The simple decision to talk to a friend while he smoked a cigarette on school grounds results in a life altering event for Theo Decker. All subsequent decisions set the stage for less than savoury entanglements. The underlying theme is about which of the myriad obvious or subtle decisions Theo makes could have changed his life's course for the better.
Although this book is an extraordinarily long and, at times, dense with psychological detailed, at no time does the story get bogged down or seem to drag. This is the first Danna Tartt book I've 'read' but it definitely not be the last.
The excellent narration and characterisations added another level of my enjoyment of this story.
David Pittu is brilliant in evoking all the different characters, and just like the painting the book has been named after, this book will remain a masterpiece to be savoured into the future.
It was a very captivating story which never dragged. The characters were marvellous and well developed. I was never bored with it and could not wait to get back to my listen.
A wonderful listen! His ability to capture the essence of the various characters through his amazing voices made this a standout listen for me. I shall definitely look out for him as a reader.
I had many laugh out loud moments! Particularly with the character Boris. I have taken to calling my cat Popchick!
I have read several reviews elsewhere regarding this book. I was interested that some found it too long, and some were overcome by all the drug abuse. I found it interesting to see the development of Theo and Boris and how their lives intertwined. I loved it from start to finish.
Blogger of accidental discoveries through books
The Goldfinch. Wow! What can I say. In the words of our Australian music guru, Molly Meldrum, I will say, guys, we have a hit on our hands. Yep, I believe this book has got to be a best seller, long term a breaker of records. Man, it's good! Plus, the narration is brilliant.
David Pittu's narration. He was quite brilliant at giving voices to each character and thereby giving life to the story.
Well I've actually read both of Tartt's earlier books (old school!). For me the last chapter breaking from the established style and delving into philosophical soliloquizing was a device that just didn't work. I don't remember this being an aspect of the earlier novels which I remember being all character and plot.
James Hobart, or "Hobie"; main character's mentor
Absolutely. A real "page-turner" if you can call an audio-book by that term.
Intriguing novel; I was completely drawn into the world of Theo for the first 3/4 of the novel. By the final quarter however I found myself somewhat alienated by the increasing preposterousness of the plot and repetitive ruminations of Boris (Pittu's narration saved the day there in my opinion), and I've already talked about the unsatisfying nature of the 'philosophical reflection' of the last chapter
I like good books, I will follow a good author and i listen to friends recommendations. Love audio books and am fascinated and learning.
I was delighted to find such a long and classy novel. Very pleased to think 'comtemporary Dickens' and find this confirmed in reviews! I will remember it - this is the highest accolade i can give.
I have given it to my 17 year old to read - she finds it hard to get into books as she is caught up in an instant gratification age of social media. Im pleased to report that she's hooked too!
Tartt's writing is, as usual, gripping. There were so many things I couldn't predict and kept wondering where this story could possibly go after X or Y happened. She sure knows how to keep a girl hooked!
I haven't but think he is a most excellent narrator. Really spot on with nuance and tone and loved how he could make the various voices sound so different from one another.
This really was a fanatastic book. It just went on too long in parts and I'm not sure I like the ending. It felt far too preachy and out of sync with the rest of the book.
Rambling, compelling, absorbing
Although not similar in content, it brought to mind The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, for its rich characterisation, intricacy and detail of plot and extreme differences in locale (possibly also because the bulk of both books is set in New York).
It's a toss up between Boris and Hobie.
David Pittu's performance was excellent. The characters all sounded distinct and his voice is very easy to listen to. That, added to Tartt's characterisation, created a book full of rich characters who were easy to picture.
I found this book annoying on several levels. We are told of a disaster looming in Theo's life early in the book but the time taken to get to the deails of the event nearly drove me crazy. I found the narrators monotone voice nearly put me to sleep, especially bad as I was on a long drive. Finally I find books about people on a path of self destruction very irrating and the insights I got into drug induced minds wasn't for me.
"Narrator Hand Picked By Tartt- Outstanding!"
I was fortunate enough to attend a recent Guardian Book Club where Donna Tartt was talking about her first novel, The Secret History. I was even more fortunate enough to personally ask her about her books being made into audiobooks (she has narrated both her previous novels)
I was curious to find out how she felt about David Pittu's narration of her third novel, particularly as she has always been totally against her novels being made into movies because she doesn't like the thought of her character's voices being interpreted by a director or actor.
Her response to my question was fascinating to me as I've always wondered whether authors have much of an input into their novels being made into audiobooks. She said that she had wanted to narrate The Goldfinch herself but didn't have the time in her schedule, so instead she listened to many audition tapes and eventually chose Pittu because she liked the way he read the very strange,but somehow loveable, Boris.
She then spent many hours with David Pittu on the telephone and described to him all of the voices and how each character should sound. I love that she did this, I am fascinated that each character has the voice she intended for them, this 'schooling' of the narrator really has paid off.
She said that she hadn't yet listened to the finished audiobook but hoped that it was good, she asked me if I enjoyed it, to which I replied it is one of the best audiobooks I've ever listened to. And it really is truly the best audiobook I've ever listened to, as good as if not better than some of my favorites- Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, Under The Dome, The Help, NOS4R2, the Name Of The Wind. I wonder if the authors of these novels had the same kind of input to the audio versions of their novels as The Goldfinch has had.
It is truly a work of art and will stay with me forever. My advice- don't read too many reviews, the less you know the better, just listen to this book and let it take you a place only the most special of authors and narrators can help you journey to.
"Wonderful Art-ful Coming of Age Story"
I have already recommended this audiobook to several people. It is so absorbing, well-written and deliciously long!
I loved the characters - especially Theo, the protagonist, with his inner turmoil and sense of duty alongside his desire for desire; and Borys, the kind of friend who is great to have yet always brings some kind of trouble in his wake. The plot is full of surprises and, despite gradually entering the realm of thriller, or crime novel, never becomes unbelievable, mostly due to the depth and authenticity of Theo's reactions, and the richness of his inner life in response to his world.
David Pittu gave a standout performance. I especially loved the way he brought Borys to life, the Eastern European/Russian accent was perfect to my ears. All the characters were so well voiced. He really fleshed out the story and his pacing is impeccable.
It made me laugh and cry. It also made me think a lot. I loved the way Theo thought about life and his thoughts allowed me to explore a lot of my own ideas.
There was a special pleasure for me in the ideas about art, about how 'great' art should belong to everyone, and the effect that art can have on people's way of thinking and acting. I also thought the novel was realistic in its portrayal of alcoholism and drug use. For many people addiction is not a totally crippling illness that destroys their lives, as it is usually described, but rather an important part of their life that they manage to control enough to have relationships and work, although their addiction does colour who they are and the choices they make.
"Masterpiece. 32 hrs 23 mins. Not a second too long"
Donna Tartt is an astounding storyteller. She writes in such an understated way; no histrionics, no superfluous words and always allows the reader to feel what they want to feel without having been obviously led to that emotion.
This was part thriller, romance, mystery, gangland, family and a historical art book. What I was left with was the profound philosophy of Hobie, Boris and Theo. All so different but all wonderfully succinct.
The narrator was astonishingly good. There was not one jarring moment when any accent grated on the ear. He "sensed" Theo's state of angst so convincingly I was moved to tears on occasions and I gasped in fear, willing the main character to listen to his inner good sense.
If Donna Tartt waits another eleven years before publishing a book - that is fine by me. I am sure it will be worth my patience.
"Best book I've listened to this year"
This book was wonderful, both the story and the narration. It has spoiled me for anything else and I mourn its finishing. I might just start listening to it from the beginning again!
"Devastating story, remarkably read."
Involving, compulsive, moving
Ms Tartt's total immersion in the life of a young boy learning to fend for himself in a world that is both randomly cruel and kind is a tour de force; following young Theo through the vicissitudes of his bereavement and subsequent loneliness is utterly compelling. His friendships with the bad-boy Boris, and the saintly Hobie have an immediacy that is true and heart-felt, and Tartt's perfectly honed ear for the distinctive levels of societies from high New York through seedy Las Vegas and the bad-lands of gangsterdom are extraordinary. Fabritsius and his golden painting are now super-stars in their own rights.
Giving each of the many characters a life of their own, David Pittu has a myriad of voices and a sympathy with Theo that makes the whole story shine; of all the many narrators that I have listened to over the years, Mr Pittu ranks as one of the very best.
Not the most enjoyable of the scenes in the book, of course, but the horrific bombing of the museum and the subsequent chaos that Theo has to confront, sitting with a dying man while trying to understand what could have happened to him and to his mother, will be unforgettable to any that listen. His confusion, his bewilderment and his innate compassion for the old gentleman is painted in masterly strokes.
'Broken Chains - the Goldfinch that flew.'
"A month of bliss to listen to."
This is by far the longest audio book I have ever listened to - 32 hours BUT superbly narrated and the most captivating story. I think one gains enormously by listening to this book rather than reading it. Firstly it is a big book to carry around - 700+ pages and some reviewers have commented that the key Russian character Boris's dialect is difficult to read easily. Well, in the audible version to get to meet Boris in all his glory - splendid. My next door neighbour is Russian so I can that David Pittu is spot on! This is a wonderful, wonderful book.
"Absolutely brilliant! Best book since Shantaram!"
The characters in this story have real depth and tge entire storyline is fascinating and engaging.
There are too many memorable moments to pick out just one.
Yes, most certainly and for several days I could barely wait to get back to listening!
The subtlety and finesse of Donna Tartt's writing is in a league above most others.
"Well worth the long wait"
Riveting, surprising, satisfying
Hobie, because he is always there for Theo no matter how catastrophic Theo's behaviour and actions become
Theo because we see him grow and develop from a boy to a man in the course of the book
No I wanted to make it last and last
This is a long book and parts of it are hard to hear as Theo goes from being a loved and protected boy to a miserable, drunken, drug addicted, deceived and deceiving young adult - all driven by the insane desire to own a small painting of a little captive bird. In a way Theo is as trapped by fate as the bird in the picture he loves so much.
"Tour de Force"
This book would have taken some stamina to read rather than hear but David Pittu gives a superb performance. The somewhat lengthy navel gazing passages are made accessible and meaningful thanks to his careful treatment of the text.
The story is inherently interesting but Theo, about whom the story develops, could easily have become a bit of a bore without the superb characterisation of the narrator.
I doubt this will be to everyone's taste but I thoroughly enjoyed it.
"slow burner but gets there in the end"
You need to persevere with it as after the initial bomb blast, the first half is very slow, but does build towards the end.
The main character is very believable.
I did like his accents, especially the Russian ones. He was able to bring the different characteristics to life, not just with the accent, but with the timbre and expression in his voice.
No! it's way too long, and I think you'd lose the will to live as there is a lot of drug taking throughout and the narrative meanders somewhat.
The end was a little hurried. I only gave it 5 stars as it left me a little deflated.
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