The Goldfinch is a story that I’ve always wanted to read but at 864 pages, I kept putting it off until it was the right time to read it. When my friends went to see the movie last year, I was again prompted to grab it and declined seeing the movie until I’d read it first… yet again life got in the way.
2020 arrived and life slowed down, I was burning through my TBR pile faster than ever before and then two things happened in the space of 5 weeks. I lost my dog; Brian, my constant companion who brought so much joy into every day, and then 5 weeks later I lost my Grandad. Whilst I had some warning about Brian’s declining health, my Grandad’s death was a complete and utter shock. Grief is a difficult thing to describe as we all deal with it differently – we go through the stages at different times and we focus on different things to get us through it all. I’ve found my grief to be in a vicious cycle at the moment, I was just beginning to heal after Brian’s death when Grandad passed away and now I find myself crying for them both… because Brian is the one who would have helped me through the grief of losing Grandad.
Anyway, the reason I’m waffling so much about me and not the book is because The Goldfinch really helped me. I can see why this book wouldn’t be for everyone and trust me I struggled at the start since I have no interest in art, but for me I needed the detail Tartt brought to this beast of a book. I needed to be completely lost in a story and for it to fill my mind with other thoughts.
At the age of thirteen, Theo loses his mother in the most devastating way. With his father out of the picture, he moves in with his best friend’s family and begins to pick up the pieces of his life whilst observing the unusual behaviour of the DeFrees, which contrasts greatly with his previous years of being an only child and his mother being the only constant in his life.
When his mother died, Theo met someone at the scene who gave him the chance to change his future. As Theo begins to heal, he remembers this. Now Theo has a choice.
Theo follows this alternative path to see where it will take him and he finds happiness that he hasn’t experienced since his mother’s death. But then life throws Theo another curveball and his path changes again. I was devastated for him but then a positive of this new journey was the introduction of Boris – one of literature’s most unusual and memorable characters, he’s an absolute cracker of a character who evolves so much within these pages.
This story is such a multi-genre book as it continuously jumps into different topic realms – there’s family aspects, relationships, drugs, antique dealings, illegal dealings, and of course, the constant journey of Theo’s grief. And whilst I could critique the length of the book and say it could have been edited down, for my current state of mind it suited me perfectly. Because real life isn’t edited and we do focus on some things more than we should that would bore others. I liked how true to life Tartt’s depiction of Theo was, it felt so honest and raw.
It’s a whirlwind story with an array of interesting characters that bring so much to the table.
The Goldfinch was my comfort blanket for a week and whilst at times I struggled with it, it’s a case of the right book at the right time for me.
The Goldfinch is out now in paperback and eBook versions from Abacus.
Until next time, stay safe, Chloé x
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