About the Book (New York Times Book Review): 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 longing for his mother, he clings to the 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.
"But sometimes, unexpectedly, grief pounded over me in waves that left me gasping; and when the waves washed back, I found myself looking out over a brackish wreck that was illuminated in a light so lucid, so heartsick and empty, that I could hardly remember that the world had ever been anything but dead." (page 93).
The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt (Little, Brown and Company, 2013) is an undertaking of great magnitude, both in length and subject matter. At approximately 775 pages, The Goldfinch is lead by narrator Theo Decker, a 13-year-old boy living in New York, and takes the reader on an incredible journey full of plot twists, emotions, and a dark world filled with precious art.
Through an act of terrorism, Theo and his mother experience a bombing during a visit to the museum. Theo's mother does not make it out alive and Theo, in his confused and grief-stricken state of mind, makes it out with Carel Fabritius' "The Goldfinch," a renowned and valuable painting. What follows, is an unbelievable tale of suspense and tragedy as Theo attempts to find a place in a world that has abandoned him and obtain the love of a girl that mystifies him. Even at its length, The Goldfinch is a page-turner. It is a riveting story that brings Theo full circle and leaves him with little more than what he started with but stronger for the voyage and passing of time.
Tartt brilliantly weaves together a cast of unique characters and unimaginable circumstances. The reader is jolted through each twist and turn with excitement due to Tartt's excellent writing. What might initially seem like a preposterous story becomes fascinating due to the author's expert descriptions of art and antiques.
"What if our badness and mistakes are the very thing that set our fate and bring us round to good? What if, for some of us, we can't get there any other way?" (page 745) One poor decision leads to another followed by another, and Theo inadvertently endangers not only his life but those close to him. An erratic friendship plunges him further into a realm of lies, drugs, and even murder. But the question becomes "Was it all necessary in order to land where you were meant to be?" The Goldfinch is a sad but lovely tale of loss and love, losing it all yet discovering something along the way. At the heart of it all is art and the lure of the captured bird that has captivated the world.
To read more about the author Donna Tartt, click here.