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The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
|2015-08-13, 7:15 AM|
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Winner of Pulitzer Prize For Fiction 2014
Donna Tartt, author of the phenomenal bestsellers The Secret History and The Little Friend, returns with a breathtaking new novel.
Aged thirteen, Theo Decker, son of a devoted mother and a reckless, largely absent father, survives an accident that otherwise tears his life apart. Alone and rudderless in New York, he is taken in by the family of a wealthy friend. He is tormented by an unbearable longing for his mother, and down the years clings to one thing that reminds him of her: a small, strangely captivating painting that ultimately draws him into the criminal underworld. As he grows up, Theo learns to glide between the drawing rooms of the rich and the dusty antiques store where he works. He is alienated and in love - and his talisman, the painting, places him at the centre of a narrowing, ever more dangerous circle.
The Goldfinch is a haunted odyssey through present-day America and a drama of enthralling power. Combining unforgettably vivid characters and thrilling suspense, it is a beautiful, addictive triumph - a sweeping story of loss and obsession, of survival and self-invention, of the deepest mysteries of love, identity and fate.
Read Caroline Baum's Review
Few works of literary fiction will have been anticipated more than this hefty novel by an author already mythologised before she turned thirty thanks to her cult debut The Secret History.
It's been more than ten years since her second novel, The Little Friend . Since then, she's been off the radar. Rumours have swirled, deadlines have slipped.
Now Tartt is back and back in fine form, writing a dense, intelligent, complex and dark story about a small jewel of a painting that goes missing from the Metropolitan Museum following a bomb attack.
Its fate is told by a young unreliable narrator, Theo Decker- thirteen when we meet him - who has lost his mother in the museum explosion and attended the dying moments of an old man, prompting him, irrationally, to take the small painting and keep it hidden through the ensuing turmoil of his life: first with the marvellously preppy uptown Barbour family who take him in and then in the squalid chaos of Vegas, where he lives for a brief moment with his hopeless gambler father and his new girlfriend Xandra, (a piece of work who gives Tartt the opportunity to deploy her considerable comic skills ).
When Theo moves back to New York, he learns the antiques trade from the gentle Hobie, a true craftsman with no head for business. There are brilliant set pieces and a cast of characters who echo Dickens, and Henry James, pinpointing every nuance of social standing with forensic detail. Boris, a shady Russian who befriends Theo in Vegas, is the book's most memorable scene stealer, navigating the underworld and a druggy twilight zone with Slavic charm.
The book is really a love letter to New York, uptown and downtown, and to the opaque and often dubious world of antiques and their collectors. It's long and demanding and its pace is frustratingly languid at times but as a stylist, Tartt has such mastery that she keeps you in her thrall till the narrative picks up momentum.
About the Author
Donna Tartt was born in Greenwood, Mississippi, and is a graduate of Bennington College. She is the author of the novels The Secret History and The Little Friend, which have been translated into thirty languages.
|Category: Modern & Contemporary Fiction|
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