Winner of the Pulitzer Prize For Fiction 2014
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
Yes, particularly because the performance of the narrator was so good
I loved James Hobart ("hobie"). A kind and wonderful man.
Without doubt Boris. David did a sensational job of portraying Boris.
I'm not that smart
A really great book, well written, well performed, I loved it from start to (nearly) finish. I did find the finish a bit messy, like the author just wanted to wrap it up,the most disappointing part of the whole book.
A younger voice and other characters did not sound engaging. It was was a painful listen.
The story was completely disjointed, hence was not able to engage or interest. It was just a complete waste of my time.
The book is needlessly long, with scenes not going anywhere or communicating anything that could engage.
"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.
"Began so well and then deteriorated"
The first few hours of the recording promised an engaging story with well-drawn characters, however it went downhill after that. Theo Decker, the teller of the story, is a 13 year year old who loses his mother under traumatic circumstances when a bomb goes off at a museum they are visiting. He survives and encouraged by another victim grabs a priceless painting that shapes the rest of the book as we follow him into adulthood. The book begins to flag when he goes to Las Vegas with his estranged father and teams up with Boris: a Russian delinquent who introduces him to bad ways. Endless descriptions of the two of them getting wasted on drink and drugs was frankly boring. The book improves briefly as Theo returns to New York and re-unites with Holbie a furniture-restorer, he met shortly after the accident. My heart-sank when Boris returns to the narrative and had to endure more tedious descriptions of being drunk and the effects of various drugs. There’s a good story buried under all this self-destructive wallowing. The end of the book is even worse: long monologues of pop-psychology about the meaning of life from Boris that might have worked as satire, but I think it was meant to be taken seriously.
It’s as if the author had several books in mind: a boy’s coming-of-age story; a US version of Train-spoting; a crime novel; a guide to furniture restoring techniques; art appreciation; a crime story and a handbook of how to make the best of your life. If only there had been a ruthless editor to get rid of all the waffle and navel-gazing this might have been a really good book.
The narrator is excellent.
"Utterly gripping story"
This was one of the most enjoyable performances I listened to recently - certainly among the top 5.
The story starts with an utterly mesmerising account of a bomb explosion in a New York Museum. In that explosion, the young protagonist loses his mother but gains an artwork and a love that will haunt his life. To say more would spoil everything, but you'll be hooked from the start. The characters are fascinating, utterly believable and the plot engrossing if just this side of believable - whenever you think it couldn't get worse, it does. Much here revolves around friendship and love, greed and commitment, money and drugs, class and exclusion.
The plot and characters feel Dickensian - the motherless child, the stolen artwork, the unattainable love, an artful dodger as best friend, bad company, avuncular protectors, upper class people whom one ends up pitying…. The ending is disappointing, as if Tartt couldn't quite work out how to get her man out of the story, and the genre slides into some absurd thriller-like writing that felt rather forced. However, what comes before the final hour is absolutely worth listening to.The Goldfinch is the title of a painting whose fate is tied up with that of the protagonist, and as such this device is reminiscent of Henry James (in The Wings of the Dove or The Golden Bowl). But the writing couldn't be more unlike the prose of the later James - clear, sharp, and well-paced.
This was my first encounter with Pittu. The performance contributes much to making this book engrossing: the characters become real and the accents add so much to the characterisation. It's a wonderful achievement.
The protagonist stumbles from one loss to the next, first the mother, then his love, then his best friend, but some of these can be regained… Leaving his mother's flat behind and discovering the truth about his father is the most painful bit, and rendered very poignantly.
It's a flawed novel - the ending really wobbles - but characterisation and plotting are handled masterfully. Thoroughly enjoyable. A real storyteller or a writer.
"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.
"Depressing depressing depressing - all 32 hours"
This book certainly wasn't for me! I like a challenge but to lurch from one disastrous scenario to another without respite was just too dismal. I appreciate there will be people out there who sadly go through similar events to these, but I could not take the relentless agony.
The only redeeming quality for me was the narration. David did an excellent job of portraying the characters
"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.'
"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!
"Doesn't live up to the hype"
Long passages (mostly relating to drug and alcohol excess) that were dull and unnecessary.
Finishes with a homily informing us what it's all about, but it just didn't work for me.
Nothing wrong with the narration.
"Not worth the wait"
Donna Tartt writes one book every ten years. Her previous “highly acclaimed novel was very disappointing and I thought I would give her one more chance. This one is definitely better. A young boy (Theo Decker) has his life changed forever when a cataclysmic event kills his mother and throws him onto the path of a dying man who steers his life into a new direction.
He staggers from one crisis to another, trying to find or avoid family connections. He encounters every facet of American society, from the very wealthy to utterly desolate. Theo has an incomprehensible and very irritating habit of being startled into silence whenever the plot needs him not to make a very simple explanation. There are twists and turns and many, very deep introspections, including a vast retelling of a drug-induced sequence which is just tedious.
Tartt tells a good story, but tells it too long. She cannot see the world from a male point of view, and she really does not try very hard. But she does give is two absolutely brilliant characters: Hobie, the most generous and gentle soul; and Boris – a friendly but dangerous friend. She makes Boris the narrator for much of the second half of the book. Although he has broken English she still manages to place phrases such as “cultural patrimony” in his mouth. I think the inconsistence of the characters she draws and the words they say (and the thoughts they think) ultimately sink the story.
The finale is a tedious stretch of moralising lifted from the Disney Corporation. Written in the current American style (lots of talking, little depth, even less description) it is like watching a talk show. Fortunately there will be another 9 years before I may be tempted into trying another Tartt offering.
The narrator is absolutely brilliant – his accents (except for the Dutch) are brilliant and consistent. I guess it is a tall order to find someone who is good at Russian and Dutch.
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