The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Something has to give in the life of young Theodore Decker, who, at the novel’s opening, has but one reliable companion: his mother, artistic and compassionate, reverent toward the Renaissance masters yet never condescending to her apartment’s two doormen. In one trick of Fate, this bulwark is ripped away, and Theodore finds a new anchor thrown into his arms: Carol Fabritius’ masterpiece painting, The Goldfinch. Throughout his turbulent life, from his troubled stay with sometime friend Andy Barbour, to thrilling (if alcohol-filled) teenage years alongside the passionate intellectual Boris Pavlikovsky, to evenings sealing sketchy deals on antique furniture in order to clear his associate’s debts, the painting remains the undercurrent of Theodore’s life. When the disparate storylines eventually converge, it is Fabritius’ Goldfinch that unifies them. Tartt’s artistic language enlivens the novel, from the smallest details of Sheraton furniture to the greatest messages about the art of life. She exposes the elusive art of living to one’s fullest and the beautifully bizarre twists that life reveals to those who explore it. While some critics might argue that this intricate work is nothing but a series of crude brushstrokes upon close inspection, The Goldfinch will no doubt strike a chord with anyone who appreciates the beauty and mystery of art.