R. Tim Morris’ Rating: 7/10
Very well written novel; at times Donna Tartt blew me away with her descriptions but there are other times…well, let’s just say that a 750+ page novel is bound to have more verbosity than necessary; a few more lulls in the story than I’m used to, and I typically find myself restricting my reading to a 300-350 page count. But a big book is fine too, if there’s story enough to carry it.
The fact is The Goldfinch is really just an over-bloated 400-page novel. My impression is that Tartt used the novel as a “look what I can write!” platform, spending far too many pages on peripheral ideas that really just could have used another editor to tell her, “That part sucks. Chop it.” Though in all honesty, what author wouldn’t want to show off their talent? Tartt has the talent – there’s no question – but I’m not alone in my feeling that the woman could have whittled the page count down by at least a couple hundred.
There is a major plot point in The Goldfinch that is planted around the 300-page mark and not revealed until 250-300 pages later which really annoyed me. Basically, our main character, Theo, wraps up a priceless painting he wants to keep hidden and stuffs it under his bed. Then he thinks, “No, I’ll bring it to school and hide it in my locker instead. No wait, I’ll bring it back home and put back under my bed.” It was too obvious that through the changes of location that the painting was going to be secretly switched; I couldn’t have been the only person to have seen it coming. Especially considering more than ten years go by before Theo ever bothers to actually look at the painting again, instead of the bundled-up mess of paper, tape and pillowcases. My only surprise (or rather, red-hot anger) came from the fact that I figured it wasn’t going to take so long for Me The Reader to be let in on the *cough* secret *cough*. Seriously, I spent those 300 pages with this plot twist in my head and getting increasingly pissed off. “Just open up the fucking painting already!!”
Overall, there are far too many stereotyped characters and not enough likable characters; even Theo makes enough “mistakes” in his life that we wouldn’t feel too bad if things got as bad as they could for him. But hey, his mom died, right? This makes his actions redeemable. Isn’t that how fiction works?