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
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)
Listening to this was like hearing every frame of a long movie, in excruciating detail described along with totally irrelevant conversations. The conversations of a group of travelers in front of him getting off the plane, the menu in a coffee house, the details of an airline ticket. And on top of it the narratormakes every five words into a melodramatic, mystery thriller cadence for 32 hours. And his voice for every female character made me cringe. The basic story was interesting, but could have been written in two thirds the words.It was as though every scene was described in two or three ways because the writer couldn't choose which one to use.
Aside from that, I found the character unsympathetic, though I really wanted to care for him, given the hard luck he had.
I really struggled to finish this.
Avid audible listener for over 10 years.
I can imagine Boris, one of the characters, saying exactly that in his russian accent. "Shut up Theo you talk to much. Oh my head hurts too many words" .
The author is a great writer and the narrator is great, but you will find yourself fast forwarding a lot by end of book. Near end there is a 2 hour endless dialogue with Theo by himself in a hotel room in Amsterdam. It is interminable to listen to it.
Some people compare it to Dickens, it is not really there. It actually reminds me a lot of Tom Wolfe's Bonfire of the Vanities. The lead character, Theo, is unable to get over a tragedy that happens when he is twelve. His life spirals downhill, and only at the end does he find redemption. The author gets really preachy about the "power of art" to change mankind.
When the story is moving along at a good pace, it is very good. When it starts to get preachy its very bad. The author needs to get a new editor who will get out the red pencil and chop and chop. Most of teh time I found myself saying "enough already, get on with the story".
loss effects life
When Theo hits the bottom and has the dream where he looks into the mirror. It struck me of how many of us who have lost someone have wished for that moment.
David Pittu is one of my favorite performance artist. I found myself speaking like Boris in tone and mannerism when I was by myself. He brings all the characters to life but than again, he always does.
I did not laugh or cry, but I did feel the immense loss and a bit uncomfortable when the book was speaking about addiction. There were times when I really didn't think I could take much more, it seemed to go on and on, but than it really hit me, this is just a small picture into what addiction is really like and if it made me feel uncomfortable than how horrible it must be to live in the skin of an addict.
The Goldfinch is a well written and memorable. Great authors make us feel emotions, rather it is joy or loss or even being uncomfortable, they bring to life the things in our souls that we sometimes choose to ignore. Fantastic work on a subject that most do not understand or even care to identify.
Not sure I would listen again, there are so many books out there to enjoy.
Well-developed characters. I love long books that cover a long period of time. Honestly, I was a bit sorry to reach the end.
Boris, Hobie, Theo. David Pittu's interpretation of each character was immensely helpful in following the sometimes complicated story line. Masterful storytelling!
Very near the end, when Hobie didn't turn his back on Theo. The description of the life of the subject of the painting, also near the end.
This was an excellent story that spans many years and many places, from the upper east side of New York to Las Vegas to Amsterdam. An adolescent boy experiences a life-changing tragedy and then stumbles into the world of art forgeries, antiques, drugs, blackmail, unconditional love, and the Russian mafia. Although none of these things especially interest me, I enjoyed the book a lot from the first sentence of the first page to the last. It is probably one of the best books I have listened to in the last 5 years. The narrator reads in a way that makes him actually disappear and lets the story just enter your brain. He does the accents of the rich private school kids, the Russian teenager, the bimbo girlfriend of his father, the Greenwich Village art restorer, and more, so well that you can picture them in your mind. I bought two copies of this book for gifts and recommended it to my book club.
very traumatic life
I loved the characters! Even though it seems like such a tragedy, it was not depressing and this was one book I just couldn't put down! I didn't want it to end and I couldn't wait to find out what was going to happen next.
His narration was phenomenal! It was easily apparent who was talking and I fell in love with his Russian accents!
Definitely Hobie. He was remarkable - sweet, nurturing, intelligent and fascinating. Of course, as a woman I couldn't help but fall in love with the bad boy, Boris.
I want everyone I know to read this book!
Thirteen-year-old Theo Decker lives in a small, rent-controlled Manhattan apartment with his lively, loving mother. His alcoholic gambler father has abandoned them, and they scrape by on Theo's mother's pay from her art publishing job and Theo's scholarship to a tony private school.
When a right-wing terrorist group sets off bombs at the art museum Theo and his mother are visiting, everything is changed. His mother is killed and, as a result of a dreamlike encounter with a mortally wounded old man, Theo stumbles out of the ruins with a small masterpiece painting, Carel Fabritius's The Goldfinch, secreted in a bag.
You'll hear a lot of people compare The Goldfinch to a Dickens story, especially Oliver Twist, and it's hard to argue with the comparison. Theo is a Dickensian boy for the 21st century, whom catastrophe forces to live on his wits. Just when it appears Theo will land on his feet and be allowed to live with his school friend's wealthy WASP-y family, up pops his wastrel father and brassy girlfriend Xandra. You just know Pa Decker has some kind of angle here, and when he hustles Theo back to his house in a largely vacant mini-mansion development in Las Vegas, it's only a question of how closely the man's character will be to Dickens's Fagin or Bill Sikes.
More Dickensian characters abound in Theo's life over the next 14 years. Chief among them are Hobie, the kindly furniture restorer who gives Theo a direction in life; Pippa, the fragile object of Theo's yearning; and, best of all, Boris, a modern-day Artful Dodger. I'd give a lot to read a book about Boris, the motherless Ukrainian boy who moves from country to country with his largely absent mining company manager father. Boris is smart, outgoing, bighearted––but also a cheerful thief with a huge appetite for whatever drink, drugs and food he can get his hands on. Theo and Boris in Las Vegas are a couple of wild boys, and when Boris enters Theo's life again, years later, the wilding resumes.
One important difference between Theo and a Dickensian protagonist is that Theo is no pure-hearted young hero, overcoming adversity. Theo has concluded that life is a catastrophe, and he practically wallows in adversity. He courts and embraces misfortune and disaster until you almost want to give him a good slap and tell him to snap out of it.
Such a massive, sprawling, coming-of-age story runs the risk of plodding or feeling aimless, but aside from a brief lull in the middle of the book, The Goldfinch is spellbinding. Tartt takes us deeply into Theo's head and heart, his self-destructiveness and inability to overcome the loss of his mother, which is symbolized by his obsessive, guilty hiding of The Goldfinch, with its depiction of a tethered songbird.
I don't mean to imply that The Goldfinch is one of those books where the reader is required to mine through layers of symbolic meaning to discover the novel's essence. Not in the least. Donna Tartt isn't afraid to tell you straight out what the book is about. After taking the reader along on Theo's adventure, and allowing us to live inside his tortured soul, she spends her final pages tackling all that meaning-of-life stuff that most modern books are too cool to lay right out there. Given Theo's life experiences, a lot of it is pretty dark stuff, but Tartt is such a beautiful writer that she leaves the reader surging on a rising tide of wonder and something that comes close to joy.
About the audiobook: David Pittu, the reader, deserves praise for his virtuoso narration of The Goldfinch. Just reading such a long book aloud is an accomplishment, but Pittu also conveys every nuance of Tartt's writing, and his voices for the many different characters always feel true. He even expertly negotiates an Eastern European accent (for Boris), which is a common stumbling block for most narrators, who end up sounding like Rocky & Bullwinkle's Boris Badenov.
I had read another review where the reviewer had absolutely loved the book until the end, where she felt the author started to "pontificate." I couldn't agree more.
The story is absolutely amazing -- at times charming, at times sad, at times hilariously funny, at times heartbreaking.The plot moves in crazy directions, making it sound like almost different novels put together (from a very intimate portrayal of a kid going through loss…to a mad caper through the back alleys of Amsterdam)…and yet it works. You don't mind accompanying Theo on his road trip through life. I LOVED it from the very beginning and simply could not put it down.
AND THEN come the last couple of hours, where the narrator seems to lose confidence in her amazing skill and she has the main character ramble on and on and on and on (and on) about 'the meaning of life.' No! No! No! That was totally unnecessary (and condescending and pedantic), Donna. We GOT IT! You did a great job getting us to GET IT. There was no need for the sudden (and boring) style change. (Where was the editor???)
As I was reading the book, I kept thinking, "HOW could you not give this book five stars, no matter if that reviewer is right and it fails a bit at the end?" And yet, as it turns out, I could not give it five stars because of that excruciating two-hour homily towards the end (perhaps it was just an hour, but it felt longer).
Still, I recommend The Goldfinch. The other 28 hours were absolutely great.
The narrator is excellent. Loved him so much that I went to see what else he had done (to my dismay, he has done a lot of kid books…and I had actually listened to most of his few adult books already).
I am a young-executive with a voracious appetite for great stories. I read and listen constantly, and am very proud of my book collection.
I am embarrassed to say that I almost moved past this book, as I did not have the patience to tolerate being unable to predict the direction of this book. The action comes so fast and furious that I left behind my misgivings and held on for a realistic ride through the eyes of an archetypical American young man--brutally honest despite the risk to himself.
This book is candid, the language direct, and a the action real and believable. This book is a large mirror for our Modern America, and at times you likely will not like what you see. Many themes are woven together to create this masterpiece: some delicate, love and longing, and some violent, drugs, terrorism, and theft! However, of hero, Theo, always has a good reason for his conduct and you cannot help but find sympathy for this flawed young man.
This book is for anyone who loves the bitter sweet reality of this human experience. Theo happens to live on the edge, but it is through this lens that we see the real message: the human being is capable of joy despite horrible and devastating loss. Love finds its way into our hearts despite time blasting away youth's innocence.
What can you say about a 32 hour book? First I'll say, I've listened to 12 hour books I thought would never end! This 32 hours went by in a flash. I was constantly interested and entertained. I won't re-hash the story line, I will only say the writing and pacing and character development are wonderful.
This is destined to be on everyone's best fiction of 2013 list for sure. Pulitzer prize quality writing in my opinion. Not since 'Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk' have I been so taken in by a book.
Just get this book...you will love it!
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