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Editorial 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

Critic Reviews

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 Ratings

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Wow

Where does The Goldfinch rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

Top Five for sure, probably second after Infinite Jest.

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

Performances like this are difficult to compare

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

All fantastic

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

It's too long to listen to in one sitting. Also, this audiobook is not one to blow through as fast as possible. It is one to take your time with. It is one to appreciate for the writing and the narration.

Any additional comments?

This book starts off a little slow, but stay with it. You'll be glad you did. It incrementally gets better up until the very end. I didn't want it to be over. Some books, or audiobooks, give the listener/reader a sense of satisfaction after finishing it. I haven't felt that type of satisfaction since listening to Infinite Jest. And while The Goldfinch didn't strike me in the way that Infinite Jest did, it came close, and I never thought another book would. The narrator is amazing. The writer is amazing, and it takes both to create a performance so perfect. Listen to it. You won't be sorry.

49 of 50 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Stellar narration but depressing story

Wow, I got through this lengthy, drug and alcohol fueled story by wanting to find out what happens. Not glad I did. It got maudlin and depressing with long descriptions of drug-fueled dreams/trips. The narrator was so wonderful though. The accents were great and each character had a distinct voice. I will look for more books read by him. The book starts out with a literal bang and is very exciting at first, but quickly goes downhill where we meet more and more damaged people and sad things keep happening.

50 of 52 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Tried twice couldn't make it through

What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

There is no doubt this is an interesting story idea but it is a slog to get through. Scenes are painfully long and tedious. The book would benefit from some editing. Maybe half as long would have been more than enough.

My second attempt was in a 14 hour care ride with my wife. Nothing else to do but listen to the book. We made it about 4 hours before we gave up

Would you ever listen to anything by Donna Tartt again?

I would only give Donna Tart another try if the reviews were by people who didn't like this book and could explain why the other book was different. Her writing is terrific but the pacing is glacial.

46 of 49 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Boy, am I in the minority on this one.

I wanted very much to love this book. I loved Secret History. I'm almost 3/4 of the way through The Goldfinch, trying to hang in there, switching it off in irritation . . . thinking "this is getting such positive reviews; maybe it ends up somewhere better than this," switching it back on . . . and now I'm giving up. It has a great story idea. The opening, particularly once we get to the museum, is very well done. Most of the rest of the book I found incredible repetitive and overwritten. Often the writing is just not good. 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 beggars belief 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. People ask him questions and he repeatedly answers "huh?" "what?" "but –" There is some good in the book, certainly. Boris is a great character and David Pittu does such a good job with him that he keeps talking in my head. Overall I feel David Pittu tries too hard to inflect every single word, and it's exhausting. Let the words speak for themselves. 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. Like my review. So I'll sign off now.

733 of 795 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • B.J.
  • Minneapolis, MN, United States
  • 11-12-13

A stunning achievement - for author and narrator

No question, this will be on my "favorite books of the year" list - and very near the top. Tartt examines some very big topics - love, loss, death, life, forgiveness, redemption and addiction - and she does so with a skill that's secondary to none.

The main characters are BIG - in personality, flaws, strengths - and enormously engaging. I adored Theo, Boris and Hobie and have loved having them live at my house while I was listening. There's a sense of loss now that they're gone.

I've read some harsh reviews of the narrator and I don't understand that. I thought he was perfect for this book. It was a fresh take. His interpretation of both Boris and Hobie was delightful. I never would have imagined those voices if I'd read this in print. It was an added dimension that made it all the more enjoyable.

With more than 30 hours of engaging story, this is one of the most credit-worthy books around. Really, what could be better? It's a good long listen that's beautifully read. I wish they were always this good.

275 of 302 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

A Bildungsroman worth tackling.

The Goldfinch is well worth the time investment that it takes to complete this book. It's truly entertaining and brilliantly written. I was instantly captivated while I ebbed and flowed right along with Tartt's work. I think the best way to describe this book would be a present day Oliver Twist or Great Expectations. Tartt writes the male perspective extremely well and seems to grow right along with the protagonist. One of my parents died when I was thirteen years old. This book brought similar thoughts and feelings that I had at that age that I had forgotten. The author, if not orphaned herself, is extremely intuitive.

In the Goldfinch, Theo Rekker . the protagonist, narrowly escapes a terrorist attack at 13 years old that takes he lives of many, including his mother. Since she has been his guardian parent, he is now at the mercy of others. From seconds after the incident he meets extraordinary people that form his life over the next 14 years.

Tartt brings in just the right amount of characters and gave each the perfect amount of weight. to the story. She also didn't dwell too much on any point, brought in new characters and events at just the right time, keeping a fascinating pace. Is The Goldfinch perfect..no. The last hour was like listening to Charlie Brown's teacher, for me. I can't understand why this book ended this way. It felt like the book lost its final chapter and moved right into the epilogue. In spite of that - it's still a wonderful book that I am glad I read.

David Pittu's narration is breath taking. Xandra, a female character, speaks and instantly we know that she is a user whom smokes and works in as a cocktail waitress. Each and every voice is crafted in a similar manner. One does not need to wait till the author lays out the charactor like when someone was near death or drunk for Pittu created the picture through voice. I was completely blown away by his performance.

85 of 95 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

Too many words and decriptions

What disappointed you about The Goldfinch?

The unrelenting sadness and negative attitude of the main character. Many tragic events happen to him but he is unable to recognize any of the good things that comes his way.

What was most disappointing about Donna Tartt’s story?

All of the thought tangents that were unnecessary to forward the plot but added length to an over long novel.

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

Probably Boris, his resourcefulness and mostly positive attitude was a good counterpoint to Theo's depression.

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

The excessive details of all the drug use. The point could have been made with greater brevity. Also the long pages of Theo's worry and self doubts were grating..

Any additional comments?

The reader was excellent. I also appreciate the author,s fantastic vocabulary.

14 of 15 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Endless

Too many words! Unnecessary word in my opinion. On and on and on. I kept yelling 'stop!' Ay my car radio. Felt that way when I was reading and listening. This story did not need so many words!

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Survival story of a non-heroic hero

As an artist and museum professional, I have spent my career encouraging people to view things left behind as more than just "stuff" to be trashed or relegated to flea markets. The objects, beautiful or utilitarian, can reveal much about the lives and vales of the people who created, used, or saved them. They have stories to tell to those who will listen. 

Such treasured things don't merely "decorate" this book, rather they inhabit it, anchoring  wounded characters to the world as they weather unthinkable loss. In the hands of the author, works of artists and craftsman come to embody memories of the past and hopes for a tolerable  future. 

Don't worry! This is not a book about dusty furniture and paintings! It is a story about survival, but not the heroic survival of nonfiction tales (a genre I love, by the way). This is a case of fiction being "truer" than nonfiction. Only heroic tales earn nonfiction book contracts! It takes a novelist to plumb the depths of what nonheroic Theo (mixed-up but not evil) does when confronted with tragic misfortune. 

The story is told in first-person and the narrator did an excellent job as Theo, while distinctly voicing other characters to indicate dialog. 

In my personal life at the moment, I'm adjusting to the loss of my own mother (very different circumstances, of course) and the things she left behind, much of which is imbued with meaning and memory for me. So many acquaintances (my friends know better!) counsel, "It's just stuff -- get rid of it!"  Not to me. Those things are tangible connections to the people I've loved and lost.

So if you are a collector who others suspect of being One of Those Hoarders, you'll find justification in this book and possibly better understanding of why inanimate objects mean more to you than to others. 

You don't have to be a collector to enjoy this The Goldfinch, but you should enjoy long, thoughtful books. Even action sequences, filtered through the Theo's thoughts, take much longer than they  would in a thriller, but I was never tempted to fast-forward. On the contrary, I regret reaching the end and wish I could follow Theo further along his journey to see how he fares. 

143 of 164 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Too long!

What did you like best about The Goldfinch? What did you like least?

I liked the characters & the story. The philosophical ideas presented were interesting, but way overdone (too wordy).

Would you be willing to try another book from Donna Tartt? Why or why not?

Maybe. I wouldn't have gotten through this one if I had been reading rather than listening.

What about David Pittu’s performance did you like?

Very expressive. Not sure about the Russian accents, but for all I know they could have been spot on.

If this book were a movie would you go see it?

Yes, I think it would make a good movie.

Any additional comments?

The book really should have been about half as long as it was. Excellent description of how depression feels in Chapter 15. If I didn't know the author's name was "Donna", I would have assumed it was written by a man. I'd be interested to hear from male readers if they think she does a credible job of writing in the voice of a man.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful