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The Goldfinch Audiobook

The Goldfinch

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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

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  •  
    ZiggyZ 12-31-13
    ZiggyZ 12-31-13
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    "Couldn't put it down, couldn't wait for it to end!"

    A riveting story but ultimately interminable and cloying. By the last few hours I was really wishing that Theo would OD or anything just to make him shut up! If it had been half as long it would have been a great story. Perfect narrator, too bad he had to play an amoral professional victim who overthinks everything to death. I'm glad I stuck it out, but I think this book is somewhat over-rated.

    13 of 17 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mark Raglan, New Zealand 07-06-14
    Mark Raglan, New Zealand 07-06-14 Member Since 2016

    I love listening to books when cycling, paddleboarding, etc but I press pause when I need to concentrate. Its safer & I don't lose the plot!

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    "Slow Burner"

    A terrorist bomb explodes in a New York art gallery, killing many people and destroying priceless art treasures. Theo, the hero of this book, loses his mother in the blast, but before discovering this he is given a famous painting, The Goldfinch, by an old man dying of his wounds, accompanied by a young girl.

    The rest of the book describes the effects of this initial trauma on the life of the boy growing into a man. He is taken in by two kind New York families and is eventually reclaimed by his dodgy estranged father, who whisks him off to Las Vegas. Theo still has the painting and has kept it secret all along.

    He forms a friendship with a likable Russian-American rogue and they hang out together, getting drunk and experimenting with drugs. His father is then killed as a result of mixing in the wrong circles, and so Theo is alone again. He runs away to avoid Child Custody Services and rejoins the kindly New York antique dealer who had helped him after the bomb blast.

    The book then shoots forward a few years to find Theo getting himself into trouble by selling fake antiques, and then he is reunited with his Russian Friend. There is a bit of an adventure at the end and I won't spoil it any more than I have already done.

    Overall, I was disappointed by this book. It is well-written and the characters are well-drawn and engaging, but the plot is slow and a bit random. It sort of drifts along and you are thinking 'come on, come on, get on with it', and although it finishes with a dramatic climax you are still thinking 'what was the point of all that?'. It is all a bit shapeless and unsatisfying.

    7 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Joyce Wycoff California 12-30-13
    Joyce Wycoff California 12-30-13 Member Since 2009
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    "Too long ... too boring ... too long"

    It's always hard to give a really good writer a bad review but this book is just too much ... too long, too depressing, too long, too one dimensional, too long ...

    I've listened to about 14 hours of Theo being the good-but-stupid kid. I don't think it's worth another 18 hours of my life, especially when the opening told me Theo is still in the midst of self-destructing. If this is so Dickensian, I might as well go back and read Dickens.

    I want to reach out and hug Theo, take him home and comfort him ... but I also want to shake him silly. He made a friend in Hobie and then just lets it go. I want a book to have an arc ... this one just seems to be one long, joyless ride to nowhere.

    While some have complained about the narrator, I thought he did a great job and probably kept me listening several hours longer than I would have otherwise.

    15 of 20 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Bob 11-21-13
    Bob 11-21-13
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    "A Deep and Rich Story"

    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!

    7 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Wallen Danderyd, Sweden 06-17-14
    Wallen Danderyd, Sweden 06-17-14
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    "Simply fabulous"

    This was the first book by Donna Tartt that I read (or listened to). The story is great and beleivable in all its tiny details. I think it pictures very well of how it is to be raised today in the Western society. You don't have to lose your parents (or even one of them) to end up on the somewhat shady side of life. You might just as well have parents who are (physically or mentally) absent and who does not think child-rearing is a particluar interesting topic. But kids survive, even if they don't thrive, or succeed in the "normal" way. The story is very well told, does never get boring and it is brought to a very logical end. I loved this book and will look for others by the author. The narration is also great.

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
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    Michelle Cranbrook, BC, Canada 03-21-14
    Michelle Cranbrook, BC, Canada 03-21-14 Member Since 2013

    Love comtemporary lierature, some classics. Not a sci fi/fantasy gal.

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    "Absolutely stunning novel - best audible book yet."
    Would you consider the audio edition of The Goldfinch to be better than the print version?

    Didn't read the print version.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of The Goldfinch?

    Compelling relationships, completely captivating characters, unforgettable story. Every moment was memorable, but the explosion that changes everything in the beginning is the most memorable.


    Have you listened to any of David Pittu’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    No I haven't but will seek out more. He was incredible. Great accent work for one, and goes from character to character effortlessly. You always know whos "speaking".


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

    Definitely extreme. My husband was glad when it was over so we could speak again. I grieved the end. It's one of those books that will live with you forever.


    Any additional comments?

    Brilliant.

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    DaWoolf Sutton, MA 03-02-14
    DaWoolf Sutton, MA 03-02-14 Member Since 2015

    I'm just a dumb troglodyte who like reading. Me feel good after I read book.

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    "Not Too Shabby!"
    Any additional comments?

    The Goldfinch is one of the best books I have read in the last two years. What makes the Goldfinch so good? The Story! The reader is locked into a completely original and captivating story with excellent character development. The Goldfinch deals with many social issues, personal sagas, and themes without losing distracting the reader from the main story. This was my first Donna Tartt book, where many book aficionados refer to her as a genius. I may fall into that camp. Tartt's use of foreshadowing and character describing analogies will make you want to read the book twice.

    Tartt brings the reader into environments, personal circumstances, and private meetings that create a great sense of reader intimacy and connectedness throughout the book. The Goldfinch addresses the motivations and experiences associated with drug abuse, addiction, and PTSD. These heady and sad experiences are handled expertly by Tartt, where the reader is not overwhelmed by pessimism or hopelessness.

    I have two major criticisms of the Goldfinch: 1) Some sections of the book are overwritten. As the reader you want to move to the next scene change. However, Tartt gives allows the main charter to overly process their current dilemma to the point the reader shouts out loud "For the love of God please make a decision"! 2) The reader must struggle through the first 75 pages. Tartt give the reader a long wind-up before delivering the pitch. This is not helped by the somewhat awkward narrator voice of Theo's mother in the audio book. For the most part the narrator, David Pittu, is excellent. However, he struggles with the Theo's mother voice to the point of distraction.

    Criticisms aside, I loved and would recommend the Goldfinch to any serious fan of fiction. In my rank order book evaluation system (Best to Work) that I have developed for all the audio books I have listen to over the last two years, I rank the Goldfinch number 5 of 58. Not Too Shabby.

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Maine Colonial 🌲 Maine, United States 12-31-13
    Maine Colonial 🌲 Maine, United States 12-31-13 Member Since 2015

    Maine Colonial 🌲

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    "Worth the 10-year wait"

    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.

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jami E. Nettles 11-20-13
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    "Lovely story, bombshell pacing"

    Wow....I absolutely loved this book. Everything about it was wonderful - the flawed but redeemable Theo and the cast of people in his life - from the honorable to the horrible. The pacing of the story, however, kept me hanging on every chapter. The lulls then the quiet bombshells were so well done that I just sat stunned several times.

    I generally hate when people review by comparison, but this reminded me of Pat Conroy and John LeCarre combined - the lovely writing and characters of Conroy, the intrigue and twists of LeCarre. If you like either author, buy this book.

    I highly recommend this book. I plan on buying and giving several copies as gifts.

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    W Perry Hall 11-16-13

    "There is scarcely any passion without struggle." Camus, The Myth of Sisyphus and Other Essays

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    "Stellar. Tartt worthy of Dickens comparisons!"

    I finished this a few days after the release. I always let the good ones settle into my psyche to assess whether I was swept away in the moment or this really was an excellent novel. Here, definitely, it's the latter.

    Donna Tartt shatters the world of an impressionable kid then shakes: forcing him to live with a ne'er do well dad, giving him a most memorable pal (one of the best drawn supporting characters in recent memory), an unrequited love, an adopted family, the symbolic Dutch painting of the chained "Goldfinch," and creating significant roles in the polar opposites of the burgeoning and boisterous NYC and the desolate, belly-busted subdivision developments outside Las Vegas; and, finally, sending our hero on a suspenseful quasi-odyssey to Holland. She finely closed the circle on one of the most unforgettable and Dickensian in modern memory (moreso than Owen Meany, in my opinion).

    Like I said, Stellar!

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful

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