A review by jeanneerin
The Goldfinch, by Donna Tartt

dark emotional mysterious reflective sad tense slow-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? It's complicated
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? No
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes


I do not know how anyone called this book “light-hearted.”

I really wanted to love this book, but I HATE epistolary books that expound on how “no one will ever read this” it just breaks that fourth wall thing narrators should have and pisses me off. It seems like such a stupid thing for this amazing writer to do. 

The main problem, though, is that for half the book I really thought I was reading a different novel. I kept expecting it to turn into the novel I though I was reading. I don’t think I can explain without giving too much away, but I think I can say this novel is much more cluttered than I wanted. And sort of cheap. At the end there are pages explaining the theme of the novel, like a Hallmark Christmas movie that suddenly comes right out and has the main character speak the title of the movie, twice, to make sure you get it. 

Donna Tartt has big idea and small ideas and ideas that are big and small at the same time and make you cry. Her writing can hit you in the gut when she reaches into your heart and tugs that one string you’ve held tight since college when you suddenly saw how perfect and stupid the world actually is. But you turn the page and suddenly there are three other ideas that just tangle the whole mess up and make you want to close the book and not slog your way through it. It’s better in this book than The Little Friend, but it’s still just too much. The exposition at the end just amplified the horror of it all. 

The main character is great. I don’t understand why he needed to TWICE explain this thing that antique dealers do when they are trying to grift people and can’t help but wonder if the editor was supposed to pull it once. But he’s perfectly, understandably flawed. I wanted to slap him and hold him close at the same time. There were three secondary characters I could do without, but that just gets to my whole too-cluttered aspect of the book. I loved the mother and can’t figure out why other people don’t. Maybe she reminds me too much of people I love. Other than her, though, the adult female characters were one dimensional or non-existent. They were all trash, and the way abuse is treated as mostly normal is upsetting.

I wanted to give this 5 stars, because there were places it had me crying, but none of this place were past the three-quarter mark and that last quarter just pissed me off. 

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