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The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt: A book review

The GoldfinchThe Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Finishing this book has been so tiresome that I feel accomplished at having trudged along to read through to the very end. This unnecessarily long (at 669 pages) book's central plot revolves around a teenage boy, Theo, who steals a painting in the chaos right after a bomb blast that happened at a museum he was visiting with his mother. There, he also loses his mother, suddenly becoming destitute, after which he is passed around from home to home by a combination of social services and fate. He meets many characters along the way, the most interesting of which is Boris. The painting takes on a character of its own and along with the boy's fate, the painting too has its own fate traversing continents. But, the meandering details of every single thing that Theo notices bring this book down and make it extremely tiresome and boring to read. The only time the novel picked up pace was when the character, Boris was in the thick of things. Hobie's character, although portraying an interesting father figure in the novel, was reduced to the details of the furniture or antiques that he worked on. And, I often wondered aloud who cared about the details of every single piece that Hobie worked on. That is way too much digressing.

Besides its length, the other drawback this novel suffers with is the constant self pity that Theo indulges in. Boris and Theo have been kicked around by life to the same degree, Boris probably a little bit more than Theo. And yet, there probably isn't a single page in which Theo is not wondering about the what-ifs, not even after he has a fairly stable life with Hobie. It seems as if Theo stopped growing at the age of 13. And therefore, at the end of the novel you make up your mind that if ever disaster strikes you, you have to be like Boris, fearless, fighting life head on, instead of the nervous wreck that is Theo.

Final verdict: Some real art fans might like all the meandering details about antiques, but at 669 pages, this novel is too long, too slow paced and too indulgent in self-pity. I'd say, skip it and go read something else.

-RS


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