My twenty year old self has been searching for a new favourite book since teen fiction and I have found it in The Goldfinch. Struggling to switch from teen fiction to adult, a problem that can put a lot of young adults off of reading, up till now it’s been a bridge poorly built of classics, graphic novels and movies. Not having read a book over seven hundred pages long since I was fourteen and finishing off Harry Potter, Donna Tartt’s epic sat on my shelf for six months with good intentions before I even opened the first page. Once I had started however, that was it.
The Goldfinch is the story of New Yorker Theo, opening in a hotel room in Amsterdam as he fears arrest. A tale of reflection, he reveals the events which have led to his current situation, the initial, a terrorist attack that killed his mother and lead to his acquirement of a priceless piece of artwork (Fabritius’s real life 1654 painting The Goldfinch) at the age of thirteen. If you are not quite convinced by his character upon first impression then the events leading to the hotel over ten years later will more than convince you, the time frame also allows a welcome multitude of themes and the reoccurrence of wonderfully described characters. Expertly written the recollections follow him round the US as he tries to settle into new lives whilst both his mental and physical burdens remain omnipresent.
Despite the rather miserable and self-destructive storyline it is entirely captivating making it hard to put down, particularly following his move to Las Vegas. The chapters and sections are all perfectly sized making the epic digestible. The book in many ways, is like the painting itself, small in size (as far as objects go) but high in value of craftsmanship with a beautifully executed focus on difficult themes. That like all art, especially one with this depth can be interpreted differently by different individuals that will read it under different circumstances across time. Meaning any description of the work as a modern masterpiece is more than a pun but totally fair.