Books in Print

independent Australian bookselling since 1988

30 Oct 2013

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

Oct 2013 | $32.99pb *BiP price $27.95 | Little, Brown Company

Donna Tartt burst onto the literary scene twenty years ago with her outstanding novel The Secret History. She followed this up in 2002 with Little Friends and now we have her brilliant new blockbuster The Goldfinch. Writing with skill and imagination Donna Tartt brings her characters and plot vividly to life; no matter how dark the storyline becomes you are enticed to keep on reading.
Theo Decker, aged twelve, and his mother are visiting an art museum in New York when they are caught up in a terrorist attack. Theo survives the explosion but his mother does not. He blames himself for her death, as they were only at the exhibition to fill in time before an interview with Theo’s school head to discuss his suspension for bad behaviour. When he regains consciousness after the attack Theo finds himself alone amongst the rubble, except for a badly-injured old man. He remembers the man showing a young girl a tiny painting called 'The Goldfinch', which Theo’s mother had been explaining to him just before the blast. The old man takes a heavy gold ring from his finger and gives it to Theo, begging him to take the ring to an address in New York. He also begs Theo to save the tiny painting, which is falling off the wall. These two requests will have great ramifications for Theo, for many years of his life.

With the whereabouts of Theo’s father unknown, the authorities arrange for Theo to live with a school friend’s family in Park Avenue. After several months, when Theo is beginning to feel at home, his father arrives without warning. Theo is taken to live in Las Vegas, where his father is a rather unsuccessful professional gambler. He is befriended by a boy at his new school. Boris is very street-smart, whereas Theo is still rather naive. Boris introduces Theo to a darker world of shoplifting, binge drinking and drugs. I won’t tell you any more of the story of Theo and the little painting 'The Goldfinch'. Trust me that you will not want to put down this wonderful, thought-provoking and heart-breaking novel. Welcome back Donna Tartt, it was well worth the wait!

BiP staff review by Leonie