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
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
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.
"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.
"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.'
"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.
"ALMOST THE PERFECT BOOK"
I would rate this among the best 10 books I have ever read or listened to. Donna Tartt's unflashy style is to my taste, and the woman really knows how to put a sentence together. A literate feast.
In spite of being long, there wasn't a word I did not want to be there (with one exception - see below). Excellent writing, unique story. Each phase of the young narrator's life is distinct and could be a book on its own, but they are woven together by a masterful story teller.
First time I have heard this reader. Very good.
If I had been editor, I would have ripped up the last 10 pages. All that intense navel-gazing and repetition - making points which had already been made much more eloquently. It sounded as if that portion had been written by someone else. Even so, that did not detract from the overall immensely satisfying read.
"Wow! Best boolk I have listened to this year."
I loved the characters who came to life due to excellent descriptions and brilliant narration. I felt that I got to know each one personally. Through Boris, Hobie and Theo I began to learn about a world of art, drugs and crime and to reflect on the life chances and events that impact on the choices that we make. I also enjoyed the cosmopolitan nature of the story and the wonderful Eastern European and Russian accents of David Pittu. I found them very convincing.
I was completely hooked on this book and would have liked to read it in one sitting. However, its length made this impossible and provided time to assimilate the context and relationships that emerged. There is much sensitivity in the relationships of the main characters and in the situations they find themselves in. Theo's kindness to the dying man in the museum blast and the warm and caring relationship that emerges between Theo and Hobie are but two examples. The colourful character of Boris is very engaging. I just wanted to find out what he would get up to next.
From some of the reviews that I read prior to reading this book I was uncertain whether the story was for me but I was totally gripped and keep revisiting sections just to listen to the wonderful descriptive language. I will never forget this book.
"An excellent listen"
This kept my mind occupied for many miles on the treadmill. I even ran 10 miles non-stop so I could hear the last 90 minutes in one go! A gripping story and not predictable at all.
The variety and believability of the different voices for the characters.
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