Title: The Goldfinch
Author: Donna Tartt
Published: Published June 5th 2014 by Abacus (first published September 23rd 2013)
Genre: Fiction, Contemporary, Art
Notes: A substantial paperback at 864 pages. The cover is to die for. Gorgeous.
I think everyone has a book on their shelf that they want to read really badly but keep putting if off because it looks intimidating. I have this problem often; I always want to choose the correct book at the correct time. The Goldfinch looks daunting because of how large it is and the fact that it's been highly regarded (Pulitzer Prize, hello.) You have to be in the correct frame of mind to take on a book like this because you want to appreciate it.
The novel begins with a slap in the face. There's a terrorist attack at an art museum in NYC and our main character, Theo, and his mother are inside wasting time before a meeting at school. There are many deaths--including an old man who restored furniture and antiques who gave him a ring and an address, and Theo's beloved mother. Amongst all the chaos, Theo and a redheaded girl named Pippa survive and a painting is stolen. The painting taken, hastily by Theo, is The Goldfinch by Carel Fabritius; a tiny unassuming painting of a chained goldfinch which was a popular pet at the time.
Without family, Theo goes to live with his friend Andy's rich family for a while until his estranged father or distant grandparents can be contacted. He's incredibly sad and has no idea how to act around Andy's distant mother and entitled siblings.
Theo finds the address the man, later learned to be named Welty, gave him and spends time with Hobie, a man who worked with Welty and restores furniture. The little redheaded girl was Welty's daughter and Theo falls in love with her at a young age. She takes a very long time to heal from the wounds, and has very slight damage to her brain (nothing that causes concern later in life) and since Hobie cannot raise her (he isn't blood family), she is uprooted to live with her aunt in Texas. Hobie teaches Theo about the art or restoration and it is with Hobie (and Pippa) that Theo feels a sense of belonging.
Out of the blue Theo's drug abusing alcoholic of a father arrives and claims him. They go to Las Vegas where Theo meets Boris. They drink, do drugs, go to school, and watch the slow descent of his father and his father's girlfriend. All the while, Theo hides and takes care of his beloved stolen painting. The painting is a constant stressor for him because he fears going to jail. There are newspaper articles about various paintings that were stolen from the museum at the time of the terrorist attack and they seem to be printed relentlessly as the years pass.
After a crazy chain of events, Theo ends up back in NYC and works for Hobie. At this point Theo is an adult and he gets himself into trouble. Drugs, lies, and the world of antique and art sales. This novel is for those who love character development with real-life believable characters.
I absolutely loved this book and I'm so glad I made time to read it. Give it a chance and don't let the size intimidate you. Side note: this novel would be great to read over the upcoming holidays because it's a bit heavy and emotional; I definitely don't consider it a 'beach read'.