“You can look at a picture for a week and never think of it again. You can also look at a picture for a second and think of it all your life”
Having read The Secret History this time last summer, I thought I’d give this a go, beginning with high expectations. I was right to do so; The Goldfinch exceeded every pre-emptive belief I had. Taking the format of a Bildungsroman, the reader takes a journey through the tragic life of protagonist Theo Decker, after his mother dies during an explosion at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I took a particular interest to the novel due to its Art History references, particularly around the Dutch painting, The Goldfinch, by Fabritius. Interestingly, the painting rather plays the underlying link to each stage in Theo’s life.
Tartt’s extraordinary prose did not fail to intrigue. Her careful attention to the complexity of her characters made me forget this was fiction. While slow at times, the paces mirrored reality. Hobie, Boris, Theo, Pippa, Kitsey. Characters that were flawed and realistic; all clinging together by a string of fate. I did not lose interest throughout the near 900-page book, and I believed it was an adequate length to span the coming-of-age character Theodore Decker.
I’ve noticed, many reviewers had the expectations of The Secret History. I feel these two books must be viewed as entirely separate in order to appreciate them on different levels, after all, The Goldfinch was written two decades after her original title. It’s hard not to draw similarities and differences between the two, yet they are seemingly incomparable. And while they share the same profound prose, they are compelling in entirely different ways.
Ultimately, I enjoyed the slow pace of the novel that made it feel as though I wasn’t reading the novel, but rather watching a show. An incredible account of a young boy facing the loss of his mother, while gaining a stolen painting, the book is not one to miss.