Friday, 31 January 2014

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

Reviewer : Gillian Hamer, author of The Charter (
The Baileys Prize Shortlist

What we thought : One of those books that you so don't want to finish!
As I grow older, I find I increasingly yearn for flawed characters, those who have so many layers that as you unpeel them, you go from shocked to emotive to repulsed and back again. Here, we are spoiled. We have Theo Decker, who to say is troubled is the biggest understatement of the year. We have Boris, whose life story was so complex he'd lost sight of his moral compass at birth. We have darkly secretive art dealers, darkly secretive women, and the adorable Hobie. And I loved them all.

This is an epic novel, ten years in the making, and you can see how the layers have been honed, polished and perfected over time. This is a how-to example of perfection in literary fiction for me. The depth and attention to detail, the perfect characterisation and the rambling narrative and dialogue that suits every scene to perfection. Even the accents! Boris was sublime.

Theo Decker must have been a wonderful character to create. Left alone after the loss of his mother at a young age in the most dramatic of circumstances. Passed into the guardian-ship of the Barbour family whose imprint lasted right through his turbulent years in Vegas with his father. A relationship with Boris that fell under no distinct category. His return to Hobie whose paths crossed via a life changing moment. Bound by layers of guilt that he carries for life and almost lead to his destruction. I could almost weep I didn't have chance to create and live this life with him.

Without doubt, this is a lesson in excellent writing, and one that will stay with me for a long, long time.

You’ll enjoy this if you like : Donna Tartt (I don’t honestly have a comparison).

Avoid if you don’t like :  Vegas, New York, Amsterdam. And art.

Ideal accompaniments : A tea-total mint infusion (you will never want to touch alcohol again) and a detox smoothie.

Genre : Contemporary, literary fiction

1 comment:

  1. Agree. This book is superb. Guaranteed to become a classic for generations to come.