The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt aka THE BEAST *HUGE SPOILERS*

My friends. My wonderful beautiful friends. I cry!! If you follow me on Instagram, you know my little bookish heart belongs to 'The Secret History'  by Donna Tartt. Read my review here. It is my favorite book of the year SO FAR. Tartt's writing is brilliant in TSH which prompted my desire to read more of her novels. The first time I made an attempt to read this book was actually BEFORE I read TSH and I failed. I was buddy reading it with a group of my lovely bookstagram friends, @i.reads , @bookiewithoutborders & @theclubofbooks {Please follow them for a plethora of book selections and gorgeous photos.}  Anyhoo, I decided to shelf it because I was incredibly bored while reading it and it was ridiculously overly detailed; better described as super dense and daunting!!

My books speak to me and more so now than ever since I've ditched my tbr. The Goldfinch taunted me, challenged me from my shelves and so I decided to take on the challenge and I won because today I finished it!! I buddy read it again, the second time around, with my two girls @pollyandbooks  and @lookingforabura . I strongly suggest buddy reading 'The Goldfinch'. This book, in the likes of such classics like War & Peace LOL, is a huge reading commitment so it's great to have encouragement and discussion partners along the way. I am mutli-reading at the moment and I finished four books while reading this one. One chapter of  'The Goldfinch' is equivalent to the time it takes to read ONE book. 


It begins with a boy. Theo Decker, a thirteen-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 combines vivid characters, mesmerizing language, and suspense, while plumbing with a philosopher's calm the deepest mysteries of love, identity, and art. It is an old-fashioned story of loss and obsession, survival and self-invention, and the ruthless machinations of fate.


The Goldfinch BY DONNA TARTT
PAGES: 771
FORMAT: Hardcover
PACING: {0/5}

A great sorrow, and one that I am only beginning to understand: we don’t get to choose our own hearts. We can’t make ourselves want what’s good for us or what’s good for other people. We don’t get to choose the people we are.

I have been pondering the best way to write this review. This book is haunting in a way that brings me back to the realities of life. There isn't going to always be a happy ending. The main character, Theo Decker, never truly recovers from the tragedies of his life and spirals down a dangerous hole that leads him to nowhere. He lost his mother at the age of thirteen in an explosion at the museum they visited. She was obsessed with an oil painting called 'The Goldfinch' and as I continued reading I began to understand how this painting was really a representation of Theo's life. This book is most certainly perfect for cocktail party conversation and everyone interprets its deeper meaning differently of course, but here's my take.  

The actual painting itself is of a goldfinch atop a feeder. The feeder is constructed with two gold bars, one on top of the other. However, the goldfinch is chained to the top bar of the feeder. I felt Theo had mommy issues at an early age so when she died in the explosion, he became even more obsessed with the thing she loved. The painting was like a reminder of his past, but also a statement about Theo's inability to put it in perspective and move forward. It's his downfall in making sound decisions in his life. The bird is chained and depicted as not being able to be free much like Theo. Where the goldfinch is physically chained, Theo is mentally and emotionally chained.

After his mother was killed he went to live with the Barbours, a very wealthy well-to-do family with their own secrets which Theo is made aware of later in the story. The idea in life is to surround yourself with people who make you better, but when you don't think much of yourself in general you tend to surround yourself with others who are in the same boat. Enter Theo's Russian "friend" Boris. I use the term friend as loosely as possible. When Theo left the Barbour's he went to live with his alcoholic dad and his eccentric and snooty girlfriend, Xandra, in Las Vegas which is where he met Boris. Boris' dad was also an alcoholic, but was extremely abusive towards Boris. I found Boris and Theo's friendship toxic from young teens into adulthood.

When Theo connected with Boris eight years later, he introduces Theo to drugs. Not much of a fight was put up in coercing Theo into such vices because he was looking for any kind of escape from his mental torment anyway. It seemed that Theo never really had anyone around him to steer him in the direction that would be beneficial for him. Boris also informs Theo that he lived with Xandra for awhile and that his dad, who was killed, was involved in some very shady dealings that cost him his life. I thought Hobie, the owner of an antique shop, would be his saving grace. He was able to be open with Hobie as a young boy about all the things he was experiencing since the death of his mother. Then Theo started working in his shop and dabbling in illegal activities, it seemed Hobie would meet Theo with some disappointment maybe even enough to get him to get his life together, but Hobie ended up being corrupt as well. He only wanted Theo to cover his tracks so to speak and pay what he owed. 

They acquire 'The Goldfinch' but it mysteriously goes missing. Boris later admits to stealing it. Hence "friend". Boris and Theo end up traveling to Amsterdam to retrieve it after connecting with one of Boris' shady acquaintances. They subsequently get into a shootout where Theo ends up killing someone. To rewind, at some point before this happened, Theo finds out that Mr. Barbour and his son Andy drowned in a boating accident. Basically, every person that Theo has ever known dies tragically or lives tragically so he has no hope; no room in his hardened heart to believe that things could be better. Including his love interest, Pippa, that he can never be with.  With all life's disappointments he develops from a lost little boy into a jerk of a man and I couldn't stand him towards the end of the book. He was somewhat of a narcissist. Fast forward, after the shootout Theo runs and hides out in an Amsterdam hotel because he believes he is wanted for murder. He leaves his passport in Boris' car so he can't immediately go back to New York. Have you ever heard of the saying "Whatever can go wrong will?' He writes a suicide note, but right in the nick of time, Boris who felt he needed to redeem himself for stealing The Goldfinch painting in the first place, turns it in as if nothing happened. He gets the reward money and gives some to Theo.

This story ended with Theo trying to recover all the antiques and art from all of his illegal activities. No hope, no redemption. It was a very exhausting and depressing account of endless tragedy and the main character did not come out smelling like roses. If this review seems all over the place please forgive me. I did give a warning that I was pondering how to write this LOL. The pacing of this book is absolutely horrible. It is details describing details describing details. Yes I meant to type that! Although I do not have a problem with depressed, dark characters and am not the reader that needs to "relate" to characters to love a book *insert The Secret History*, but this book is soooooooo dense that the actual story gets lost for me. However, Donna Tartt is a brilliant writer. This book is not just a simple character study, but rather just real life account of how from one tragic event can spiral someone's life out of control. It seems Theo is narrating his own struggle. It was like reading the pages of someone's depressing biography.

If you are planning to read this book be prepared!! I can't say that I would recommend 'The Goldfinch' because I'm honestly not in love with it. Although I finished it the second time around, it is still ridiculously overly detailed, but if you are wanting to challenge yourself as a reader then I say go for it!!

My Rating: {3.5/5}