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The Goldfinch | [Donna Tartt]

The Goldfinch

The Goldfinch is a haunted odyssey through present-day America and a drama of enthralling force and acuity. It begins with a boy. Theo Decker, a 13-year-old New Yorker, miraculously survives an accident that kills his mother. Abandoned by his father, Theo is taken in by the family of a wealthy friend. Bewildered by his strange new home on Park Avenue, disturbed by schoolmates who don't know how to talk to him, and tormented above all by his unbearable longing for his mother, he clings to one thing that reminds him of her: a small, mysteriously captivating painting that ultimately draws Theo into the underworld of art.
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Audible Editor Reviews

Editors Select, October 2013 - It's already been an amazing season for literary fiction - you can't go wrong with a new Jhumpa Lahiri novel, and Dave Eggers and Amy Tan will also be hitting our virtual shelves soon - but Donna Tartt's The Goldfinch is truly one of the most anticipated books of the fall. I confess that I haven't been able to dig into it yet, but the early reviews I'm hearing from trusted colleagues have moved The Goldfinch to the top of my listening list. Sure it's long (ahem, credit-worthy), but the commitment is worth it, with the same intense suspense and character development that made The Secret History, Tartt's debut, a modern classic. —Diana D., Audible Editor

Publisher's Summary

Audie Award Winner, Solo Narration - Male, 2014

Audie Award Winner, Literary Fiction, 2014

The author of the classic best-sellers The Secret History and The Little Friend returns with a brilliant, highly anticipated new novel.

Composed with the skills of a master, The Goldfinch is a haunted odyssey through present-day America and a drama of enthralling force and acuity.

It begins with a boy. Theo Decker, a 13-year-old New Yorker, miraculously survives an accident that kills his mother. Abandoned by his father, Theo is taken in by the family of a wealthy friend. Bewildered by his strange new home on Park Avenue, disturbed by schoolmates who don't know how to talk to him, and tormented above all by his unbearable longing for his mother, he clings to one thing that reminds him of her: a small, mysteriously captivating painting that ultimately draws Theo into the underworld of art.

As an adult, Theo moves silkily between the drawing rooms of the rich and the dusty labyrinth of an antiques store where he works. He is alienated and in love - and at the center of a narrowing, ever-more-dangerous circle.

The Goldfinch is a novel of shocking narrative energy and power. It combines unforgettably vivid characters, mesmerizing language, and breathtaking suspense, while plumbing with a philosopher's calm the deepest mysteries of love, identity, and art. It is a beautiful, stay-up-all-night and tell-all-your-friends triumph, an old-fashioned story of loss and obsession, survival and self-invention, and the ruthless machinations of fate.

©2013 Donna Tartt (P)2013 Hachette Audio

What the Critics Say

Narrator David Pittu accepts the task of turning this immense volume into an excellent listening experience. Pittu portrays 13-year-old orphan Theo Decker with compassion, portraying his growing maturity in this story of grief and suspense…Pittu adds pathos to his depiction of the troubled Theo as he deals with addiction and finds himself in a dance with gangsters and the art world's darker dealers. (AudioFile)

"Dazzling....[A] glorious, Dickensian novel, a novel that pulls together all Ms. Tartt's remarkable storytelling talents into a rapturous, symphonic whole and reminds the reader of the immersive, stay-up-all-night pleasures of reading." (New York Times)

"A long-awaited, elegant meditation on love, memory, and the haunting power of art....Eloquent and assured, with memorable characters....A standout-and well-worth the wait." (Kirkus, Starred Review)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.2 (13665 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Frank Stone Mountain, GA, United States 11-14-13
    Frank Stone Mountain, GA, United States 11-14-13 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
    20
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    "All that sparkles is not Goldfinch"
    Any additional comments?

    According to the NYTimes Book Review Ms. Tratt waited 10 years between books. Thank God it wasn't 20 or it would have been 64 hours of wasted time. If I hadn't had a lot of free time on my hands, I never would have made it through this. Even so I almost gave up multiple times. As another reviewer pointed out, there are entire sections of this missive that could have been deleted entirely.

    Even a bad book usually has a few redeeming qualities, memorable quotes or characters. This book had none of the above. Save your credits unless you have been sentenced to life in prison and this is the only book they let you have access to.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Andrea 11-06-13
    Andrea 11-06-13 Member Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    10
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    "Standard Tartt"
    If you could sum up The Goldfinch in three words, what would they be?

    Fear kills.


    What was your reaction to the ending? (No spoilers please!)

    I guessed the ending several chapters before it occurred, including the long final narration.


    What does David Pittu bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    Lovely voice that fit the protagonist and the story.


    Who was the most memorable character of The Goldfinch and why?

    Hobbie: What a perfect uncle, friend, guardian. It wasn't his story, but his story is one I would like to know better.


    Any additional comments?

    The book is written in a narrative style, as was her fist book, "The Secret History" and it shared numerous echos from her earlier work ranging from eccentric characters; a cast of orphans or 'near' orphans; unrequited love; disturbing friendships; and life's consequences. It was an enjoyable listen, but so much in the style and tone of "The Secret History" (which I read three times), it's unlikely that I'll read/listen a second time. While initially excited about the story's length, I found it would have benefited from being whittled down twenty to twenty-five percent. There is no doubt, it was worth the credit paid, but not a spectacular find. If you haven't read Ms. Tartt, my recommendation would be to start with her earlier two books.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Susianna Wisconsin 11-03-13
    Susianna Wisconsin 11-03-13

    Susianna

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A Worthwhile Read That's More Potter Than Pip"

    I've heard this book called "Dickensian" and even "a modern day Great Expectations." While I can see where readers might draw parallels to Dickens and his books, I see more Harry Potter than persevering Pip in the novel's protagonist, Theo Decker.

    The Goldfinch chronicles the odyssey of recently traumatized (and miraculously spared) Theo as he picks up the pieces of his (literally) blown up life to - not so much rebuild his life but elude the police and other grown ups who want to control his destiny. Theo inexplicably steals a rare painting, The Goldfinch, at the behest of a dying stranger. His motivation to do this is perplexing so it is at this point that I part company with the 'Tartt as Dickens' camp. While Tartt does create an absorbing world full of odd-ball characters, cruel twists of fate, and coincidental happenings that would lend themselves well to Dickensian serialization, the novel seems aimless at times. The circumstances keep coming but do little to alter the bleak landscape Theo inhabits, or do much to change Theo himself. As I recall, Dickens wrote around a moral center; a true north that would shine through the darkest of human depravity and social decay. I'm not referring to Horatio Alger-like simplicity that ensures gift-wrapped happy endings. I'm talking about morally complex stories where rare flashes of kindness or humanity enable characters to conquer (or at least grow through) the struggles in and around themselves. Frequently, Tartt's dilemmas seem to stifle growth and bog down the pace of the story. For instance, there is so much detailed drug use - and to what purpose? We get it. Theo and his sidekick Boris took lots of drugs. Of many kinds. And they drank. Lots of different booze.

    On the bright side, learning about the world of art and antique dealing was fascinating. Many characters were quirky and enjoyable.There was a benevolent, if rather distracted, guardian of sorts whose manners and kindness were a welcome respite from all Theo's misfortune. Another thing the author did particularly well was capture adult Theo's disorientation upon returning to the New York of his childhood. For all my criticism, I have to say, Tartt writes well and kept me listening for almost 30 of the 32 hours of the book. I listened to the end, just skipped ahead at times in order to get on with things.

    I do agree that choosing a lesser known narrator like David Pittu for such a highly anticipated novel was a risk. But for the most part, Pittu is more than up for the challenge. His Ukranian Boris was especially good.

    Finally, it was great to learn that 'The Goldfinch' is a real painting by Carel Fabritius. It's available to see with a quick Google search. After viewing the picture, even via computer screen, I understood how its simplicity and poignancy inspired Tartt to use this particular masterpiece as the touchstone of her story. Painted in a muted, golden palette, Fabritius' bird gazes out with beauty, intelligence, and dignity - despite being constrained to its perch. The real story is here, in the goldfinch picture itself. I'd have liked the author to say more about art and our responsibility as its caretakers. Long after we are gone, this little bird will continue to delight and inspire generations to come. Artistic masterpieces are greater than the sum of their parts of pigment, canvas, and artistic intent. A great work of art elevates our thoughts and ennobles our spirit to embrace what's best in humanity; and anything that does that is worth preserving forever.

    6 of 10 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lori Houston, TX, United States 01-14-14
    Lori Houston, TX, United States 01-14-14 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "I don't get the hype!"
    What would have made The Goldfinch better?

    It's so hard to listen to a very long book when you don't like any of the characters. I kept hoping it would get better. I wouldn't recommend this book to anyone.


    3 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jack Los Angeles, CA 11-07-13
    Jack Los Angeles, CA 11-07-13 Member Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "I loved this great book"

    I loved this book. The narrator, who we meet when he is 13, recounts the often amazing story of how he, by chance, comes into possession of a priceless work of art, and over the many years of his life his connection with it and the often unseen control it exerts over his life.
    The story itself is well plotted, a large (though not sprawling) machine with many cogs that work in wide, eccentric arcs; but what makes the book great is the deep insight into human connections and the often breathtaking quality of the prose, especially as it relates to those above mentioned connections.
    I give nothing away by revealing the central character of the novel, Theo, loses his mother early in the book and the passages about his grief and longing for her are painfully, concisely accurate and movingly expressed. After her sudden and painful departure, Theo's life becomes a study in various kinds of deeply felt loneliness, but, by contrast, in a way the book is about the connections we make; the starkness of his isolation makes the glow of the love and friendship he finds and struggles with all that much stronger. In particular the central relationship is the one between him and the painting itself and even the simple physical descriptions of the painting are informed and radiant. And, of course, since it's a Donna Tartt novel there is a dream sequence that is absolutely electric, I don't know if it's fair to call this a trope of hers but it's something she writes exceptionally well and you spend half the novel looking for it and when it arrives it does not disappoint.
    I have read all three of Donna Tartt's novels ( I really loved 'the Little Friend' ) and I would have to say I think this one may be my favorite.
    The narrator does an excellent job, he has consistent voices for each character, he has a great instinct for delivery and his voice is a great match for this story, it's hard for me to think of Theo and not hear his voice.
    I would just like to say, one more time, this is a great, great book. It starts strong, and goes and goes and mostly does not disappoint. I don't leave a lot of reviews but every now and then, and I'm sure you've had this experience, you read something so good you just want to tell everybody. great book, please go and enjoy.

    3 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Heather Russell 07-31-15 Member Since 2014
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    "Must read"

    The narrator was phenomenal. I couldn't stop listening. Best audiobook I've listened to so far.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lisa A Jackson 07-30-15 Member Since 2015
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    "highly recommend!"

    this novel started out a little slow but became completely mesmerizing....loved it! so many unexpected plot twists!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Chris 07-30-15
    Chris 07-30-15 Member Since 2014
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    "Incredible Narration and Story!"

    I loved how immersed you became listening to the narrator. You travel with him so intimately and deeply every step of the way. I really recommend this book wholeheartedly.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sondra Healey Portland, OR 07-28-15
    Sondra Healey Portland, OR 07-28-15 Member Since 2015
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    "Incredible!"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    A simply excellent story. Very well written, as one would expect from a Pulitzer Prize winner. Awesome. And the narration is absolutely amazing. Great listen.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lindsey Hennings 07-28-15 Member Since 2014
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    "Highly recommend"

    So good! Didn't want it to end! Very well written and a wonderful performance. I love how the performer identified the different characters with different accents and such.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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