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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 (9356 )
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  •  
    Rhonda 03-16-14
    Rhonda 03-16-14 Member Since 2011
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    20
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    Story
    "Beware way too many swear words."
    What did you like best about The Goldfinch? What did you like least?

    I really liked the beginning when he was with his mom.
    Then after he left NY it was ruined for me with all of the swearing. I don't appreciate it in real life and really do not appreciate having to listen to it in a book.


    Would you recommend The Goldfinch to your friends? Why or why not?

    I have nit finished it yet.


    What about David Pittu’s performance did you like?

    I think he did a fine job.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    dvidal 03-15-14
    dvidal 03-15-14
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    "Entertaining"

    It was a good book. I think all the hype about it being good kind of ruined it for me. I enjoyed it and the narration though. I would listen again.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    KP Oakland, CA 03-15-14
    KP Oakland, CA 03-15-14 Member Since 2006

    There is no Frigate like a Book To take us Lands away Nor any Coursers like a Page Of prancing Poetry – Emily Dickinson

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Like Catnip"

    I loved, loved , loved this book. I loved the plot, loved the characters, and loved her beautiful writing. This quote sums it up for me: “Donna Tartt is catnip for educated people who want to read entertaining but not difficult things about lofty topics and cosmopolitan people.” (Lydia Kiesling, The Rumpus, 11/30/13)

    The goldfinch, it turns out, has been a symbol of Christ’s resurrection for hundreds of years. This may have started because of the thistle seeds that the goldfinch eats, which supposedly remind one of Christ’s crown of thorns. The painting, “Madonna of the Goldfinch” from 1506, exemplifies this Christian symbolism.

    And even in ancient Egypt, this little bird was used to decorate coffins and remind the viewer that the soul is in the hands of God. This symbolism works perfectly in the book, The Goldfinch.

    (Spoiler Alerts! )

    The place where the symbolism becomes the most apparent is in Amsterdam. I love the way the final scenes there take place in the winter. Theo has hit bottom, he is about to commit suicide. It is cold, there is snow –traditional literary symbol for death. THEN it is Christmas day, and that is when he has his awakening, conversion, or rebirth. “ … after Amsterdam, which was really my Damascus, the way station and apogee of my conversion as I guess you’d call it, ….. “ (p. 768 ) A snowy Christmas: how perfect for a symbol of rebirth and regeneration.

    That scene in Amsterdam is the main crisis in the book. For the rest of it, he pretty much tries to sum up the philosophy of life that he’s developed in going through all the horrors and yet the beauties of his life. This is a wonderful, emotionally moving, section. The painting of The Goldfinch has been symbolically representing how Theo’s soul has been in the hands of God – bumping from city to city and crisis to crisis - and now he’s wrestled with his demons and come out on the right side and can continue with his life in a better way. He’s doesn’t necessarily have a positive or happy outlook, BUT he is surviving, has reset his moral compass, and is ready to move on. Like Paul on the road to Damascus, he has had a conversion.


    In addition to thinking about the Christian symbolism in the book, I am also trying to figure out if it could be considered a “picaresque” novel – the part about the bumping around from city to city like Don Quixote. The Goldfinch does take the main character, Theo Decker, to many locations on many strange adventures. First it’s NYC, then Las Vegas, then back to NYC, and finally to Amsterdam, and then other locations around the globe are tacked on at the end. So , that part qualifies as picaresque. However, in looking up the characteristics of that genre on Wikipedia, it is not quite so clear. I’m not sure if I have a point or not. Here’s a list to help make a decision:

    1. Written in the 1st person as an autobiographical account.
    Check this one as a YES. Theo tells his story and reflects on his life.

    2. Main character is of low social class, gets by without and rarely deigns to hold a job. This is not so clear. Theo Decker is not of low social class, however, he is often very poor and he does many things that could qualify as “low class.” The picaresque hero is usually a rogue, BUT he is a lovable rogue and so doesn’t really seem like a “picaro.” I would put Theo Decker in this category, since he IS lovable, he does get by on his wits , and he DOES commit many roguish acts. He does have a job at some point, however, he commits some of his “roguish” acts on the job.

    3. There is no plot. The story is told in a series of loosely connected adventures or episodes. This doesn’t work for “The Goldfinch. ” It has a plot, although, again, this is somewhat ambiguous since the plot does wander all over the globe. I guess, to me, the plot seems to be about Theo Decker growing up and finally coming to peace (of sorts) with his life and what has happened to him. This is a story of redemption, and that is the plot. So, I think this is NOT like a picaresque novel in the area of plot.


    4. Little character development in the main character. Once a picaro, always a picaro. NOPE. Theo definitely has a conversion – a redemption. In fact, that is the major point or theme of the book, so this part doesn’t work as picaresque.


    5. The picaro’s story is told with a plainness of language or realism. I would say this is true. The writing is lovely, but it is very easy to read, and it is realistic. There is no magical realism; there are no obscure passages. In fact, that is one of the things I loved about the book: it was a good story, easy to read, but still it contained many beautiful passages, literary references, figurative language, symbolism, and interesting thoughts on the nature of existence. So it was a great combo of the simple and the complex.


    6. Satire might sometimes be a prominent element. At first I didn’t see it as a satire. However, I’m re- reading it, and now I can see the satirical elements: the social workers trying to help Theo; Dave, his therapist; the characters and the very geography of Las Vegas (the Playa, the empty houses, Xandra) and the snootiness superficiality of some in the art world. It is dark in parts and could be considered to be critical of life or segments of society. Although overall it doesn’t read like a satire, I’d say parts of it seem to be written in a satirical vein.


    7. The behavior of a picaresque hero stops just short of criminality. Carefree or immoral rascality positions the picaresque hero as a sympathetic outsider, untouched by the false rules of society. This one seems true to me. Theo is thrown outside of society by the explosion in the beginning. He is always lovable, even when he commits his worst acts in the book. Although he seems to be taken in by others (his dad and Boris, mainly) he is always sympathetic, innocent, and lovable.

    It will be hard for me to find a book that I like as much as The Goldfinch! Maybe I’ll try Donna Tartt’s other books…..


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    d 03-15-14
    d 03-15-14
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    "obsessed"
    Where does The Goldfinch rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    Right up there.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    Yes


    Any additional comments?

    This is a book I listened to obsessively. When I was listening, I didn't want to stop. When I was not, I was thinking about it.... thinking about when I could get back to it. I wanted to finish, but didn't want it to end. Loved the narration.

    There were a few spots that were tedious, but all books have them.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kelley Reid Houston, Texas 03-14-14
    Kelley Reid Houston, Texas 03-14-14
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    "Enchanting"
    Would you listen to The Goldfinch again? Why?

    This is a wonderfully enchanting coming of age story. One of the best stories I have heard/read


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

    Love his narrative


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    tessa reynolds Chico, CA 03-13-14
    tessa reynolds Chico, CA 03-13-14
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    3
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    "I dont want it to end"
    Where does The Goldfinch rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    Top story, top characters, top narrator.........


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Hobbie, his gentle way about him


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

    Borris, great accent


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    Many


    Any additional comments?

    Great all around

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Steve Ventura, CA, United States 03-13-14
    Steve Ventura, CA, United States 03-13-14 Member Since 2011
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    "Good Read, But Not Dickens"
    Any additional comments?

    I really enjoyed this book. The story held me through the full 800 pages and the character development for the most part was very good. That is especially true of the main characters, Theo, Boris, Mrs. Barber, Theo's mother and father, Sandra and Hobbie. I want to be like Hobbie. What a saintly, rich person. The development of Kitsy and Pippa was not as strong.

    The writing has been compared to that of Dickens, and I would have to say it falls short of that. Dickens was able to get into the sordid side of life with humor and without making the reader feel oppressed by it. The humor is definitely missing in this book, but it did manage to avoid the oppressive part by painting Theo as an innocent, naïve victim of his circumstances.

    The portrayal of Theo as having little control over his fate and casting him in a somewhat fatalistic light, both for his life and for life in general. is something I cannot accept, so this put me somewhat at odds with the author. There was also a little too much drug use for my taste.

    The reading by David Pittu is superb. He brought the book to life with his inflections and voices.

    Overall, I would recommend this book, but do not see it being a classic.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amanda Marysville, OH, United States 03-13-14
    Amanda Marysville, OH, United States 03-13-14 Member Since 2013
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    4
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    "Best Narrator Ever."
    Would you consider the audio edition of The Goldfinch to be better than the print version?

    Absolutely! David Pittu did such a marvelous job bringing each character to life with each of his accents. I'd recommend this one be listened to.


    What did you like best about this story?

    The great characters that Tartt creates. She makes you really care about each one.


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

    The different accents and personalities of the characters are brought to life by Pittu. I hope to listen to more of his readings in the future.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    When Theo went home to wait for his mothers return.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jennifer 03-12-14
    Jennifer 03-12-14
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    14
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    "Very long .. but very worthwhile!"
    Would you listen to The Goldfinch again? Why?

    Yes , so much detail in every sentence


    Any additional comments?

    Excellent story, so many twists and turns of fate ... there but for the grace of God?!Love the extremely descriptive writing that puts you right there in the action in NYC, Las Vegas or Amsterdam. The characters are so well developed (easy in a book of this length?) and even though there are many, its easy to keep track of who is who.Great read/listen.Thoroughly recommend this book!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dustin Corona Del Mar, CA, United States 03-11-14
    Dustin Corona Del Mar, CA, United States 03-11-14 Member Since 2013
    ratings
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    1
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    "Entertaining"
    What made the experience of listening to The Goldfinch the most enjoyable?

    I enjoyed the numerous plot lines and character development throughout the book.


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

    David Pittu did a great job of telling the story and engaging you with his numerous voices.


    Any additional comments?

    Overall, great book. I was a little underwhelmed and disappointed by the ending though...

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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