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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 (11978 )
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Performance
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  •  
    L. Ronayne Huntington, L.I. 03-24-14
    L. Ronayne Huntington, L.I. 03-24-14 Member Since 2014

    Linnymama

    ratings
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    5
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    Story
    "The art of art"
    Would you listen to The Goldfinch again? Why?

    Pittu was remarkable. I rewound to listen to certain scenes over and over because of his talent. He became the very essence of the characters. I felt I was given a gift. I couldn't have read this book and have gotten the same depth of character and story that David Pittu gave me.


    What other book might you compare The Goldfinch to and why?

    It reminded me of A prayer for Owen Meany and Great Expectations because all three books had twists and turns and heartache over a boys coming of age.


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

    Boris! Seriously? It was award worthy.


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

    The scenes in Amsterdam when things come together for Theo and reaches rock bottom...plus we learned even more about Boris.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dallas 03-23-14
    Dallas 03-23-14 Member Since 2015
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Wonderful story beautifully narrated."
    Would you consider the audio edition of The Goldfinch to be better than the print version?

    I liked the audio version so much that I bought the print version just to have it in my lending library.


    What other book might you compare The Goldfinch to and why?

    It was a page-turner the likes of THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO, but where that one was a guilty pleasure, this one is literature at its best.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    Almost any scenes with Boris.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    It completely captivated me. I have recommended it to many people and induced my book club to choose it. Despite many of the members being reluctant to read any book longer than around 300 pages, everybody loved THE GOLDFINCH. No complaints about it except that it kept people awake far into the night because they couldn't put it down.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Brian Coralville, IA, United States 03-23-14
    Brian Coralville, IA, United States 03-23-14 Member Since 2009
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    "Outstanding"
    What made the experience of listening to The Goldfinch the most enjoyable?

    The ability of Narrater David Pittu to manipulate his voice from one character to another was excellent.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Martie YPSILANTI, MI, United States 03-23-14
    Martie YPSILANTI, MI, United States 03-23-14 Member Since 2013

    If I don't answer your call its because I'm totally in love with this audiobook!

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    10
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    "I don't know what all the fuss was about?????"
    Would you try another book from Donna Tartt and/or David Pittu?

    Yes


    What do you think your next listen will be?

    Cuckoos calling (Robert Golbraith) (actually Jk Rowling pseudonym!!!)


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

    Boris, Theo's Ukrainian friend


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

    Excitement and sadness for Theo's loss at the first part of the book and then the story fell off for me when he goes to Las Vegas and then I was just bored, pushing to the end!


    Any additional comments?

    This book got so many good reviews and appeared on so many of my lists "you might like this because You liked that/ based on your past purchases" so I passed it up a few times and there it was all the time on bestseller lists and on my lists, constantly in my face! So I used one of my credits and while the narrator was AMAZING the story just couldn't hold my interest throughout! The beginning is riveting and exciting and full of loss and sadness and yes a bit long winded but really great then blah! The middle is completely monotonous as Theo is basically on a drug/alcohol binge the whole time and this part was highly predictable for how his Dad situation turns out. The end picks up a little more steam with some excitable parts but again on the monotonous drug binge not to mention fever ridden ...feels like it goes on forever! The end was maybe not abrupt by definition in its ending but the story is going on and then all of a sudden the problem is solved??? And the soliloquy ending just plain got on my nerves! What a disappointment Theo grew up to be ... Much like how the story took me I loved Theo in the beginning and was excited but then I didn't and I wasn't!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lorraine Stanwood, WA, United States 03-21-14
    Lorraine Stanwood, WA, United States 03-21-14 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "I tried"
    Would you try another book from Donna Tartt and/or David Pittu?

    Simply put-Way...Way too long! Editing really would have helped. Felt frustrated-had to quit.


    What was the most interesting aspect of this story? The least interesting?

    the boy


    What aspect of David Pittu’s performance would you have changed?

    none


    If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from The Goldfinch?

    quality editing would help


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Susan oakland, ca, United States 03-20-14
    Susan oakland, ca, United States 03-20-14 Member Since 2009
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    "Not sure if it was worth it"

    The bottom line is that I was worn out by this book. There were some compelling parts, but the level of detail about some parts of the story was interminable. My son said the ending was worth it all. The ending - the last 30-40 minutes - was very compelling, and there were other sections that I was really involved in, but most of it was just drudgery for me. I also didn't care for the reader. Some readers are able to bring characters to life with different voices. With Boris he did a great job. Most of the women sounded the same. I was often confused with the men, as well. Not sure I can recommend this book. I'm pretty conflicted.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kim Meseck Jamison, PA United States 03-19-14
    Kim Meseck Jamison, PA United States 03-19-14 Member Since 2015

    Kim Meseck

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Sensations of eating sweet & sour sauce!"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Yes, with an explanation why.


    What other book might you compare The Goldfinch to and why?

    Shantaran by Gregory David Roberts


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

    The characters moodiness and continual struggles with his life decisions.


    If you could rename The Goldfinch, what would you call it?

    The Dark & Tumultuous Underworld of Art


    Any additional comments?

    I enjoyed and disliked this book. A real understanding was expertly brought to the dark side of the characters. Loved how everything came together and was explained in the last chapter. The author was quite verbose at times, which made the characters, especially the main one, come across as being whiny. This frequently got on my nerves. The characters were difficult to like, but with the events in their lives so fully and expertly explained, you can understand why. Some points were beaten to death. However, the overall story, and the description of the Goldfinch painting were very interesting. Great character development. Reading this book made me want to see the painting. Unfortunately, it left the Frick Museum in New York, where it was on exhibit for several months, right after I had finished the book. And, learning something in one part of the book really took me by surprise, this revelation was a real surprise, something I never suspected. An OMG moment! I recommend this novel to anyone looking for a book they can really dig-in with, and want to really get to know the characters. Very well-written!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rhonda 03-16-14
    Rhonda 03-16-14
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    20
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    "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
    HELPFUL VOTES
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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 2012

    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
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