Tuesday, December 30, 2014

The Goldfinch -- Donna Tartt ---------------- 4.5 Stars

Before I get into my review for the wonderful The Goldfinch, I want to note and celebrate accomplishments. 

#1 - This is my 100th book review. 
#2 - This blog has been now going for almost 6 years. 
Who would have thought back in 2009 I would still be attending to this so many years later?  Who also would have thought I would have read so many books?  Not me for either question.  I truly impressed myself!

Anyway, let's get to this fine book.  The Goldfinch is a real pleasure.  In fact, the hardest part of writing this review was trying to determine if it should be 4.5 stars or 5.  It's been floating around lately as a pretty popular book from last year and my sister said I would like it.  As she described it to me though, I got concerned.  Some orphan kid, something about artwork, use of drugs... it all seemed a bit odd to me, but man am I happy I read it.

So the plot isn't critical to the book.  Don't get me wrong, it's a very good plot with some real action at the end and some excitement, but coming in at over 700 pages, this book is much more about the characters.  And what great characters there are.  There's a variety of interesting and intriguing characters but the book is still built around the first person narrator - an orphan.  What makes the characters so wonderful?  A lot, but for me, their well fleshed out histories add so much to each individuals story.  Whether young or old, you truly understand how the history of their lives does so much to affect their current behavior.  Tartt does a great job of really rounding off each character so you can truly understand their motivaitons.

Why else is this book so good?  Well, it's wildly entertaining.  Written in modern times, the descriptions of various settings are pretty fascinating; be it New York, Las Vegas or Europe, you get a real sense for the certain places in these cities.  It also includes gratuitousness.   Not overwhelming, but the amount of drug use described could have killed a small horse.  Also, writing and including dialogue of modern speakers (with developmentally appropriate conversations depending upon character) was done quite well.

I also really enjoyed the book because, at the end of the day, it's a story about beauty.  Defining that beauty and how it might change from person to person is, of course, an underlying current but the beauty of a piece of art is a pivotal part of the story.  The idea that some paint on a piece of wood from nearly 500 years ago can so significantly pervade the livelihoods of people throughout history is truly fascinating.  What else is beauty though?  Unrequited love between a boy and girl?  Pure platonic love between two friends?  Love of an actual craft like woodworking?  All of these questions and others are identified and left for the reader to sift through in this book.  I highly recommend it to all!   

What a wonderful book to have read for my 100th review.

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