A review by whimsicalish
The Goldfinch, by Donna Tartt

dark sad slow-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? No
  • Loveable characters? No
  • Diverse cast of characters? No
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes


I have read long, slow books with a focus on characters but this didn't work for me. The further I read, the less I liked the protagonist. It's ok to have morally gray or struggling characters but Theo was unlikable.

I liked following Theo through different periods in his life. The writing is strong and generally easy to follow, until the author goes through paragraphs of heavily descriptive atmosphere by name dropping places or brands I'm not familiar with. Not to even start on the casual racism. No, it doesn't "call out" racism. The author just wanted to write slurs.

Some content would have been fine to leave less. The long chapters describing his Vegas days are repetitive and boring that added very little to the story or experience.

Perhaps what bothered me the most was toward the end.
SpoilerThe only reason Theo changes his personal and professional behavior was because Hobie found out his deceit. Theo is finally called out on his constant lies, inappropriate ownership towards Pippa, and criminal activity that put Hobie's business in possible legal trouble. But he had to get called out. He didn't change because it was the right thing to do.

Theo's garbage but everything works out in his favor! He's even rewarded. Same with Boris. Then the characters have the audacity to say what they did was okay because sometimes bad things can make good things happen. Really? That's the lesson?

Finally the book continues to spend the last chapter spelling out the symbolism of the painting, The Goldfinch, towards the story. So effing pretentious.

I'm glad to be finished. I will not pick up another book by Tartt.

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