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
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.
Big book, I felt relieved when I finally finished reading. Donna Tart is surely good at giving details, surroundings, backgrounds, moods and etc. Tart has her own writing style, the book did remind me of another of her books- the secret history.
It is as if Donna Tartt decided to write a beautiful art essay on the goldenfinch but decided to tell so much more. This story is soaked in art its disturbing, gutreching nauseating and extremely beautiful. Self destructive behavior on grand scale. a True portray of ptsd and the hush hush way society deals with it. Definitely one of my favorite books!
Almost ok until the last few chapters - but after forgiving tons of inappropriate philosophising the terminal torrent with the author inserting herself into her three main characters to indulge is just too much - if M's reactions in Holland had been quicker it might have been bearable.
Avid listener - when I drive, do home chores, lie in the hammock under the tree...
Honest, sensitive... characters that became so alive I feel as if I've known them for years. Brilliantly narrated.
Yes, though this is only due to Pittu's magic. The book is beautiful, with some of the passages too fleeting when read aloud, gone. I want go back and reread, hold tight the beautiful melancholy, the cold irony, the tragic truths and the beautiful illusions.
'the vivid characters' is what I remember reading on the back of the book. This sounds like a generic description, really, so I didn't expect something specific about this to stand out. And how absolutely bowled out I was by the 'vivid characters'! There is nothing generic about them, they are unique, broken, accepting their fate, fighting their fate, searching for their place in the world - they are colourful and absolutely brilliant!
David Pittu has raised narration to a new kind of art in my mind. I have never considered narration to be more than someone reading out loud, but David Pittu, his interpretations of the characters, has brought it to life in a way I could not have imagined! The many accents that he produces (Hispanic, Russian, German, smoker, old guy, lady - whatever the character needs, David Pittu produces) has been an absolute treat to listen to! My favourite was his imitation of Xandra (smokey voice, "with an 'X', not with a 'Z') - I could so clearly see this lady, her whole character, in my mind! I have only praise for David Pittu!
We Cannot Choose Our Heart
This has become my favourite book of all time, with the characters still walking around in my thoughts. I do wish to read the printed copy, as there were some beautiful passages, thought-provoking ideas, cold philosophies sinking deep into my heart, beautiful tragedies that are scattered all through the book.
This book contains all that a reader of fiction could ask for. It is beautifully written, with exquisite detail and keen observation throughout. At the same time, it is also a wonderfully satisfying story, with a carefully managed plot. Finally, the vocal performance of the reader is a marvel, with all characters clearly differentiated by accent and tone.
Struggled to finish this dark, miserable story that only got worse towards the end. Don't waste 32h listening to this prescribed depression. Sorry, I really expected something spell binding after reading other reviews. Only reason I finished it is that I don't tend to quit on books.
"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.
"just couldn't get into it (sorry)"
I know this book is feted and I have listened to the whole thing to try and give it a chance. it is beautifully narrated and I can totally appreciate and respect the beauty of much of the descriptive narrative. But as a story designed to enthral, grip, excite, inspire, scare or shock me- it totally failed. I was bored throughout. Overly long descriptive passages merged together and I felt disconnected from the anti-hero and all his exploits. Not even the vibrant passages relating to the art interested me-it just left me totally bored and unable to appreciate the appeal. I love a good story but with this I could take it or leave it. I feel guilty writing this, I persevered to the end but would I recommend this book? Only if you want to fall asleep and learn about drugs. Beautifully narrated however.
It is beautifully narrated
Narration and production values
"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!
"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
"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.
"Oh for God's sake, woman. Get to the POINT!"
I spent many a happy hour trying to work out which Dickens character she is using at any given point (warning--it can be a couple of them at the same time) .
The bus journey from Nevada to New York, smuggling a forbidden passenger (a small dog) in a bag.
This is the first reading by Pittu that I have heard. He did well considering all the voices involved, but failed pretty badly with the character of Boris who, born in Ukraine, had spent several years in an Australian environment as a child. The narrator describes him as speaking good English but with a strange combination of accents--"Russian" but mixed with some Australian. Pittu made no attempt to put the Australian in and the boy in his early teens was given a slavic accent which remained every bit as strong even after he had grown up to adulthood in the US. You'd think at least the edges would have worn off by then.
Considering its length, one sitting would have been possible only if I had no family, no life and was hooked up to an intravenous coffee drip and a urinary catheter.
The book could have been about half the length without any loss of plot or punch. It was a good story and well populated by interesting people. The younger Theo is very well represented and Tartt gives us some thought-provoking insights into the world of an adolescent boy growing up in difficult, chaotic circumstances. Although in my opinion we can thank Dickens for the templates, particularly of the more eccentric characters and the style which involves a lot of unlikely, fortunate co-incidences and convenient legacies, there is nothing wrong with bringing a winning formula up to date.
I remain quite annoyed with Tartt, though, for killing Steerforth's brother instead of Steerforth himself.
"Outstanding Literary Fiction Read by a Maestro"
Donna Tartt's first book A Secret History and although I've never read Remembrance of Things Past by Proust, I have a feeling that there is some kind of similarity because of the detail. But the details are enthralling.
The Hero, his mentor, his best friend and the girl he loves.
A 21st century morality tale
One of my favourite books. The originality of story, the extraordinarily unusual characters coupled with the depth of insight into the human condition are breathtaking and a reading that deserves an Oscar. I didn't want it to end.
"Plausible storyline, pulls at your heartstrings"
Not sure, the language is beautiful. Eloquent.
The classic; Jude the Obscure. Gripping and thrilling.
The accents, American, Russian, Polish, posh American ...
Thoroughly enjoyable audio. I could not be parted for long.
"Not much to add, you know it's brilliant"
Marvellous book, with some truly great literary characters (although the hero frustrates at every turn). A modern day Oliver Twist meets David Copperfield with Great Expectations.
"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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