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  • Esther Good

Review: The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

Updated: Jan 24

Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch is about the chaos that latches on to Theodore Decker’s life when he loses his mother in a terrorist attack.  The story is part coming-of-age, part suspense, and part long-form philosophy.  Tartt is clearly a very gifted writer, and she skillfully pieces together the various raw bits of information that make up a poignant scene, thought, or memory.  That being said, I felt the laborious descriptions weighed the book down, and the passages about the meaning of life, particularly at the end, seemed somewhat extraneous to the actual story. To me, reading it was like sitting through a classical music concert: I recognize the incredible skill that goes into it, and the incredible beauty that comes out, but it’s not my cup of tea and I prefer it in small doses. If I was editing the book based on my own reading preferences, I would have pared down the middle 500 pages by half or more.

Read this if:

  1. You enjoy unusual coming of age stories.

  2. You love deeply descriptive writing.

  3. You want to read a story that explores the many faces of grief over time.

Favorite Quotes:

“I missed her so much I wanted to die: a hard, physical longing, like a craving for air underwater.”

― Donna Tartt, The Goldfinch

“Every new event—everything I did for the rest of my life—would only separate us more and more: days she was no longer a part of, an ever-growing distance between us. Every single day for the rest of my life, she would only be further away.” 

― Donna Tartt, The Goldfinch

“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 which was illumined in a light so lucid, so heartsick and empty, that I could hardly remember that the world had ever been anything but dead.”

― Donna Tartt, The Goldfinch

“Because I don’t care what anyone says or how often or winningly they say it: no one will ever, ever be able to persuade me that life is some awesome, rewarding treat. Because, here’s the truth: life is a catastrophe.”

― Donna Tartt, The Goldfinch



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