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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 (12901 )
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Performance
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  •  
    cristina Somerville, MA, United States 12-09-13
    cristina Somerville, MA, United States 12-09-13 Member Since 2015
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    "Six stars until the very end."

    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).

    16 of 20 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Elle in the Great NorthWest Beaverton, OR, United States 10-28-13
    Elle in the Great NorthWest Beaverton, OR, United States 10-28-13

    I LOVE books. And dogs & quilting & beading & volunteering.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A wonderful, involved,detailed narrative"

    I am into the second of the 5 Audible 'chapters' of this book and am fascinated by the authors intricate storytelling as well as the narrators ability with different voices.

    We all know a narrator can make or break a novel. David Pittu has met this challenge wonderfully. He reads the novel, one that is full of details and different people, with glory and imagination.

    This is my first Donna Tartt book and I'm sure I'll be listening to her other novels, if this is typical of her. I love long novels, and also enjoy novels with lots of personal information about the characters. Donna Tartt supplies these with the same enthusiasm as Rosamund Pilcher or Diana Galbendon do in their novels, though this is a totally different type of story as either of the mentioned authors write, the feelings brought forth in their stories are full of details that truly flesh out the primary characters thoughts, feelings and views.

    I've read many of the Amazon reviews and mentioned so frequently is the length, the length,the length of the novel.
    SO What!! It's a long book..it took Tartt 7 years to give birth to the book and develop the story. Shes not a brief writer, apparently, I say "Good For Her."

    The great thing about Audible is we can listen anytime, in the car, doing housework, walking the dog..or as I am this evening at 9PM. Not involved in some inane reality TV program. Instead I have the unmitigated pleasure of listening to a wonderful book that lets me use my imagination to view the scene that Tartt write with such ability.

    Well worth your credit!

    28 of 36 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Gary Las Cruces, NM, United States 12-09-14
    Gary Las Cruces, NM, United States 12-09-14 Member Since 2014

    Letting the rest of the world go by

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    "Our secrets determine who we are"

    I would recommend this audiobook more than any other audiobook that I've listened to for someone who is thinking about signing up for audible for the first time and using their free credit, because this performance highlights more than any other why I love audible. The narrator makes the story come alive by his choice for voices and inflections and at times when I reflect upon the book, I'm not sure if I was watching a movie of the book or had been listening to the book since the narrator is as good as the writer (good job! David Pittu) at setting the imagination on fire.

    The first half of the book is driven by the character who never speaks, "The Goldfinch". The listener is at all times aware of the character who does not speak and is in on the secret that all listeners of the book are aware of. This alone keeps the listener hooked to the story.

    At the heart of the story is the story of a friendship between two very flawed characters from the age of 13 onward. Each are corrupt characters but need each other to see the truths that surround them.

    I can really appreciate the author for another reason. She's dealing with universal truths that the smart listener can pick up on, but for the non-smart listener like me, she explains the points that should have been learned from the book by stating them explicitly in the last parts of the book. I would even say the author is a Hegelian and thinks understanding comes about from the knowing the whole (meaningless digression: when her character talks about "The Goldfinch" and what it means to understand art, she is also allowing her character to explain why literature is another gateway for universal truth, the whole must be understood to understand the pieces (very Hegel like). I prefer non-fiction and its Aristotelian linear fact based approach for understanding the pieces that lead to the whole, but I know Newton is a counter example when he takes the works of Galileo and Copernicus and made an Ideal out of their facts. That's what this author does and I can appreciate the lessons learned in this book; end of meaningless digression).

    This book transcends mere fiction by becoming literature, because the author had some truths about being human to make and luckily for me she explains them so that all listeners can understand them. She even has her main character tell the listener "That our secrets determine who we are" and what is meant by that and why art (and literature) is necessary for seeing those kinds of truths.

    I would highly recommend this book to anybody who is thinking about signing up for audible with a free credit. This book has depth and would not always be apparent to a reader of the book but is present in the audiobook since the narrator provides subtlety to the characters and the narrative that a reader will often miss. An audible book like this shows why audiobooks can be more rewarding than actually reading.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kimberly 07-01-14
    Kimberly 07-01-14 Member Since 2007

    Say something about yourself!

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Minority POV"

    I wanted very much to like/love this book. I didn't, I may return it for my credit though I cannot get my time back. I kept turning it off but after all the great reviews I thought it might ends up better - what was I missing? switching it back on. I never gave up but should have.

    It has a great story idea. The opening, particularly once they got to the museum, is very well done. Most of the rest of the book I found incredible repetitive and overwritten. The author uses seven descriptive terms rather than choosing the best. The protagonist often walks around dazed, confused, blasted out of his mind, stoned out of his mind, and did I mention dazed and confused? It is hard to believe that someone this drug- and alcohol-addicted could make it to the age of 27 or 30 able to function in his job and without the people around him noticing. I wanted to send him to rehab.

    There is some good in the book, certainly. Boris is a great character and David Pittu does such a good job with him.

    I feel the book is at least half again as long as it should have been. How many detailed and exhaustive scenes of teenage boys getting blasted, stoned and drunk do we need to convey this part of the narrator's life? It just goes on and on. I wondered if I needed rehab after listening to this.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rhiannon McCallister 06-04-14 Member Since 2015
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    "What's all the fuss about?"
    Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

    This book was way too long for me. Wordy to the max. Some may appreciate the prose and artful use of language, but I mostly found it a tangled mess of abstract description. There were numerous passages where minutes would go by and I would wonder what I was supposed to be gaining from such extensive narrative. This is all a matter of personal preference but I would have enjoyed this book more had it been much more concise.


    What about David Pittu’s performance did you like?

    His performance of each of the characters was great--definitely added to the audiobook experience.


    Any additional comments?

    Be warned, this book is a bummer from the very beginning and doesn't get much lighter. I'm still reflecting on what the author intended for the listener to take away from the story, but mostly I feel heavy and depressed for having listened to such a long story with such consistent themes of cruelty, selfishness, and neglect. I'm sure the message the author was trying to convey was not such a dark one, but for now it remains lost on me. Again, it's a matter for personal preference, but I don't think I would recommend this book to my friends and family.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Micah 05-10-14
    Micah 05-10-14 Member Since 2014
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    "Just not for me"
    Would you try another book from Donna Tartt and/or David Pittu?

    Probably not, simply because I do not seem to like this particular style.


    What could Donna Tartt have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

    I just hoped the story would pick up faster.


    Would you be willing to try another one of David Pittu’s performances?

    It would depend on the book. I am sure he is very talented.


    What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

    It was just a little slow and I was somewhat bored. But as I said, it may be a great choice for someone else.


    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ryan Somerville, MA, United States 05-02-14
    Ryan Somerville, MA, United States 05-02-14 Member Since 2005

    Gen-Xer, software engineer, and lifelong avid reader. Soft spots for sci-fi, fantasy, and history, but I'll read anything good.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Sumptuous if overstuffed coming-of-age"

    At the center of The Goldfinch is a painting by the 17th century master, Fabritius, whose life was cut short when a nearby gunpowder magazine exploded. When 13-year-old Theo Decker and his mother duck into a NYC art gallery to view this and other pieces, another explosion ends Theo's mother's life. In the disorienting confusion that follows, a dying, delirious old man pushes The Goldfinch on Theo, who stumbles out with it in a bag. Over the next decade, Theo's new acquisition, which is now on the FBI’s unsolved art theft list, becomes a defining part of his life.

    The parallel between the two explosions, of course, is intentional. Over its 700+ pages, this sometimes brilliant, sometimes frustrating bildungsroman contemplates the intermingled roles of catastrophe and fortune in shaping human experience and its meaning. Is bad necessary to create good in the world? Are beauty and pain ever separable? This one finds the answers no less elusive than other novels, but perhaps there are glimpses of them in the more memorable passages and characters.

    Readers have noted the similarities to Dickens. Like David Copperfield, young Theo is shuffled around between various institutional figures, reluctant caretakers, kindly benefactors, and friends of varying quality, before eventually growing up and finding his own path. He spends time with a wan grade school friend and his dysfunctional Upper East Side family. His sketchy, alcoholic father, who walked out on the family a few years ago, makes a reappearance, with a brassy, too-tanned girlfriend in tow. There’s a middle-aged restorer of antique furniture who becomes Theo’s mentor. And there’s Boris, a worldly, fearless, Artful Dodger of a Ukrainian teenager who becomes young Theo’s new best friend, though not always to the latter’s benefit, and is my favorite part of the novel. Like Dickens, Tartt makes her narrator a little unreliable, though she doesn't go for Dickens's sentimentality.

    Tartt is, no question, a marvelous writer. Her central characters, particularly Boris, burst with personality, and many scenes unfold in delicious visual detail, like a carefully-wrapped package slowly being unwrapped. Her sense of place, from a cramped, dusty furniture store in downtown NYC to the arid emptiness of a semi-abandoned Las Vegas housing development, can be fantastic. She describes the torments of unrequited love with excruciating trueness, and can make a scene as tawdry as two teenagers on a basement drug binge feel oddly beautiful.

    However, I did find this novel a little overstuffed. Some scenes feel redundant or pointlessly dragged out. Tartt introduces a number of characters that hover on the periphery, never developing into more than caricatures. An obvious example is the adult Theo's fiancé, who's reminiscent of David Copperfield's irritating "child wife", but is such an uninteresting sketch that she could have been edited down, if not out. The same goes for Theo's main love interest, who is important to one or two chapters, but is so limited in her actual presence on the page, I wondered why Tartt bothered.

    But, even with the editing issues, when Tartt is on, she can be dazzling. I loved the Las Vegas sequence, in which we meet Boris, as well as the sequence in which an older Theo digs himself into a moral hole while trying to save Hobie's furniture store from financial ruin, and runs afoul of a shady collector. Then there's the harrowing finale in Amsterdam, which follows the reveal of a surprising secret and ties up most of the novel's major plot and and thematic threads. While the Goldfinch does have some problems, for me, its strengths outshone them. I'd happily recommend this one to fans of Jonathan Safran Foer or Marisha Pessl.

    Audiobook narrator David Pittu can be commended for his attention to the emotion of the prose and his range of male accents, though he sometimes overacts, particularly with his nasally female voices. 3.5 stars.

    8 of 10 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Candace ISLESBORO, ME, United States 04-08-14
    Candace ISLESBORO, ME, United States 04-08-14 Member Since 2011

    I live on an island off the coast of Maine. Since I installed a "doggie door" I am now retired from "Letting The Dogs In and Out"!

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Why never to ask what someone is thinking"
    What did you like best about The Goldfinch? What did you like least?

    Under all the monologue there was a good story...........too much monologue, it went on and on and on and on and on and on


    Has The Goldfinch turned you off from other books in this genre?

    Yes - from this author


    Which character – as performed by David Pittu – was your favorite?

    Boris


    Was The Goldfinch worth the listening time?

    No...could have been a good story if cut in half.


    Any additional comments?

    Too drawn out........hopelessly frustrated listening to every thought the main character had and always hoping it would advance faster.

    5 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ray Kasper Hartford, CT 04-08-14
    Ray Kasper Hartford, CT 04-08-14 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Slow"
    What would have made The Goldfinch better?

    Very slow moving. I didn't get through half the book. I'd love to get my credit back.


    You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

    Very slow and didn't connect with the characters


    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Andre Ithaca, NY, United States 03-03-14
    Andre Ithaca, NY, United States 03-03-14 Member Since 2006
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    "Over-rated"

    This is a novel with a reasonable plot, but is burdened by excessive descriptions of violence and dissolution. The protagonist acts abominably; and then is rescued into good deeds at the end by ridiculous connivance. The book also suffers from an enormous load of pseudo-philosophical twaddle at the end. I could hardly wait to finish it.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
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