The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
A Novel

73%

60 Critic Reviews

For all its artfulness, and despite a satisfying and wholly unexpected denouement, "The Goldfinch" both describes and understands the arbitrariness of life and never makes it seem simpler or more orderly than the fascinating, troubling mess it is.
-LA Times

Synopsis

WINNER OF THE PULITZER PRIZE

"The Goldfinch is a rarity that comes along perhaps half a dozen times per decade, a smartly written literary novel that connects with the heart as well as the mind....Donna Tartt has delivered an extraordinary work of fiction."--Stephen King, The New York Times Book Review

Theo Decker, a 13-year-old New Yorker, miraculously survives an accident that kills his mother. Abandoned by his father, Theo is taken in by the family of a wealthy friend. Bewildered by his strange new home on Park Avenue, disturbed by schoolmates who don't know how to talk to him, and tormented above all by his longing for his mother, he clings to the one thing that reminds him of her: a small, mysteriously captivating painting that ultimately draws Theo into the underworld of art.

As an adult, Theo moves silkily between the drawing rooms of the rich and the dusty labyrinth of an antiques store where he works. He is alienated and in love--and at the center of a narrowing, ever more dangerous circle.

The Goldfinch is a mesmerizing, stay-up-all-night and tell-all-your-friends triumph, an old-fashioned story of loss and obsession, survival and self-invention, and the ruthless machinations of fate.
 

About Donna Tartt

See more books from this Author
Donna Tartt was born in Greenwood, Mississippi and is a graduate of Bennington College. She is the author of the novels The Secret History and The Little Friend, which have been translated into thirty languages.
 
Published January 1, 2014 by Abacus. 864 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense. Fiction
Bestseller Status:
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Peak Rank on Feb 23 2014
icon52
Weeks as Bestseller
Bookmark Counts:
6
Want to Read
2
Have Read
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Critic reviews for The Goldfinch
All: 60 | Positive: 42 | Negative: 18

Kirkus

Excellent
on Jul 29 2013

The novel is slow to build but eloquent and assured, with memorable characters, not least a Russian cracker-barrel philosopher who delivers a reading of God that Mordecai Richler might applaud. A standout—and well worth the wait.

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Publishers Weekly

Above average
on Jul 29 2013

The Goldfinch is a pleasure to read; with more economy to the brushstrokes, it might have been great.

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NY Times

Below average
Reviewed by Stephen King on Oct 10 2013

There are a few missteps, yes. It’s hard to believe that television coverage of a terrorist attack like the one Tartt imagines would be interrupted with mattress commercials, and there’s a lot more about furniture restoration than I needed.

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NY Times

Good
Reviewed by Michiko Kakutani on Oct 07 2013

...it’s not just narrative suspense that drives this book; it’s Theo and Boris, the stars of this enthralling novel, who will assume seats in the great pantheon of classic buddy acts...

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Guardian

Below average
Reviewed by Julie Myerson on Oct 19 2013

Conversations, monologues – many of them in Boris's broken and extremely tedious-to-read Russian accent – are drawn out over pages. They take the plot nowhere and all too frequently only reiterate things we already know.

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Guardian

Above average
Reviewed by Kamila Shamsie on Oct 17 2013

Plot and character and fine prose can take you far – but a novel this good makes you want to go even further.

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Publishers Weekly

Above average
on Jul 29 2013

Theo is magnetic, perhaps because of his well-meaning criminality. The Goldfinch is a pleasure to read; with more economy to the brushstrokes, it might have been great.

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NY Journal of Books

Good
Reviewed by Jeremy McGuire on Oct 20 2013

Not only is The Goldfinch a compelling mystery with enough action to keep us turning pages, it also is one of those novels whose greatness lies in those moments in which we pause, catch our breaths, and sigh...

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NPR

Good
Reviewed by Maureen Corrigan on Oct 31 2013

As ingenious as Tartt's plot is, this novel would be but a massive scaffolding feat, were it not for her uncanny way with words.

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NPR

Good
Reviewed by Meg Wolitzer on Oct 21 2013

...it kept me wishing I could stay in its fully-imagined world a little longer. Donna Tartt was right to take her time with this book. Readers will want to take their time with it, too.

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Financial Times

Below average
Reviewed by Emily Stokes on Oct 18 2013

Tartt’s prose, always lush, can sag under its own decoration; the register, too, slides between Sebaldian cool and teenage slang

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Star Tribune

Good
Reviewed by MEGANNE FABREGA on Oct 19 2013

This novel is a veritable journey for reader and protagonist alike, and one made more pleasurable by Tartt’s exquisite eye for the smallest detail.

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Book Reporter

Below average
Reviewed by Michael Magras on Oct 25 2013

THE GOLDFINCH possesses the good and bad qualities of Dickens’s output. Tartt’s novel, like much of the Dickens canon, would have benefited from more rigorous editing.

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Washington Times

Good
Reviewed by Corinna Lothar on Apr 18 2014

It takes good writing and a plot that doesn’t fizzle out by Page 400 to write a nearly 800-page novel. Donna Tartt has succeeded admirably in her new, Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, “The Goldfinch.”

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Globe and Mail

Good
Reviewed by Marjorie Celona on Oct 18 2013

To capture the sense of an object and its power is a feat, truly. The Goldfinch, then, is a beautiful mediation on the agency of this special, immortal object and its power to inspire in a lost little boy a sense of interconnectedness with the world.

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LA Times

Good
Reviewed by Geoff Nicholson on Oct 17 2013

For all its artfulness, and despite a satisfying and wholly unexpected denouement, "The Goldfinch" both describes and understands the arbitrariness of life and never makes it seem simpler or more orderly than the fascinating, troubling mess it is.

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Toronto Star

Below average
Reviewed by Laura Eggertson on Nov 12 2013

Like Tartt’s previous novels, The Goldfinch is long. It would have benefitted from more acute editing. There are lengthy descriptions of furniture restoration, Theo and his fiancée Kitsey’s wedding preparations and even of Theo’s existential angst that could have been trimmed.

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The Economist

Good
on Oct 26 2013

“The Goldfinch” is a startling accomplishment, bringing a truly Victorian tale...right up against the explosive device of a postmodern thriller. But Ms Tartt has the true storyteller’s gift, what southerners call “yarning”: the voice she creates is so convincing that the reader will believe anything she says.

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National Post arts

Below average
Reviewed by Zsuzsi Gartner on Nov 01 2013

The novel is filled with overworked commonplaces about art and immortality, good and bad people — tricked-out erudition like mutton in wolf’s clothing.

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Entertainment Weekly

Below average
Reviewed by Clark Collis on Oct 21 2013

The Goldfinch unfolds in what should feel like a far more realistic post-9/11 landscape, yet the result is less convincing as its set pieces jostle uncomfortably together.

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The Washington Post

Above average
Reviewed by Ron Charles on Oct 22 2013

With its bloody ironies and nested coincidences, this explosive opening scene is awash with the concussive disorientation of the moment but also polished by years of regret.

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The Independent

Good
Reviewed by James Kidd on Oct 20 2013

At a time when so much literature is either contemptuous of plot or enslaved by it, The Goldfinch is a gripping page-turner and a challenging, beautifully written account of modern life.

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The Independent

Good
Reviewed by Boyd Tonkin on Oct 18 2013

The novel lets us see, and feel, the real bird beyond the brush – or rather, the grief, and addictive yearning, behind its cabinet of curiosities.

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The Telegraph

Good
Reviewed by Catherine Taylor on Oct 13 2013

By using the Fabritius as her central motif, Donna Tartt engineers a recklessly impressive plot while simultaneously inviting the reader to marvel at her own artistry in this, her much-anticipated third novel.

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Huffington Post

Good
on Oct 21 2013

The prose is beautiful, and the story is compelling. Despite several problems that it had, we absolutely loved it. We wish we could read it for the first time again.

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The Boston Globe

Above average
Reviewed by Eugenia Williamson on Oct 26 2013

While Boris and company likely aren’t quite enough to propel “The Goldfinch” into the pantheon of beloved cult novels, the book will satisfy those looking for the kinds of characters only Tartt can create.

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Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Good
Reviewed by Eileen Weiner on Oct 25 2013

While the novel is cerebral and erudite, the key characteristic that will keep you reading is its enormous heart, the evident affection and tenderness the author feels for her characters, such that the reader cannot help but care about them as well.

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USA Today

Excellent
Reviewed by Kevin Nance on Oct 20 2013

...the best book of 2013 so far, and required reading for anyone who loves great literature from this or any other century.

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Express

Good
Reviewed by Clare Heal on Nov 03 2013

...Tartt’s prose is so precise, so refined, that none of those hundreds of pages feel like unnecessary padding.

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Express

Good
Reviewed by Caroline Jowett on Oct 25 2013

Tartt has an extraordinary ability to paint the bigger picture while immersing you in the details. And she makes her reader work.

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Review (Barnes & Noble)

Below average
Reviewed by JAMES PARKER on Oct 21 2013

Tartt's prose is of the kind that goes everywhere, explains everything, tumbles over its own rhythms in transports of data-based imagery...TMI, as the kids say?

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The Columbus Dispatch

Below average
Reviewed by Margaret Quamme on Oct 20 2013

The Goldfinch can be messy and self-indulgent. Tartt may be too much in love with Boris’ mangled English. Also, the thriller plot into which Theo finds himself plunged in his late 20s strains credulity.

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Chicago Tribune

Good
Reviewed by Amy Gentry on Oct 13 2013

"The Goldfinch" harnesses the intense, immersive, almost druglike pleasure of long-form realist narrative to make an extended argument for the transformative power of art.

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NY Daily News

Excellent
Reviewed by Sherryl Connelly on Oct 27 2013

In “The Goldfinch,” Donna Tartt presents such a spectacle of life in a novel so entertaining, mordantly funny and, yes, profound that it’s almost required reading.

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NY Daily News

Below average
Reviewed by JEVA LANGE on Oct 22 2013

The language is urgent, verbs full of action and possibilities, and sometimes overdone, as if Tartt is pleading for our attention. That’s disappointing because it’s so unnecessary.

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Tulsa World

Good
on Oct 27 2013

The author trains an acute eye on the moral ambiguity of all of her characters in “The Goldfinch”...

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North Jersey

Good
Reviewed by Mae Anderson on Oct 27 2013

Tartt...paints the many different strata of life that Decker floats through with vivid detail, including the dissolute Vegas gambling scene, high-society Manhattan, the world of antique furniture dealing and shady underworld art dens.

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Lit Reactor

Good
Reviewed by CATH MURPHY on Oct 22 2013

The Goldfinch isn’t exactly a thriller, but as Theo tries to hang onto his purloined treasure, it contains enough suspense to justify its length. There’s a proper ending too, and a settling of accounts which gives this work the sense of closure...

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New York Observer

Good
Reviewed by Alexandria Symonds on Oct 29 2013

The Goldfinch is at heart the story of Theo growing up; and it isn’t until close to the end of the novel, when Theo looks at Fabritius’s work for the first time in many years, that Ms. Tartt reveals what a brilliant strategy it has been to set a bildungsroman against the backdrop of the painting.

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Three Guys One Book

Good
Reviewed by Jim Ryan on Oct 21 2013

In the hands of a lesser writer you would nearly be tempted to accuse of the text of a voyeurism verging on the profane...To go any further would be to give too much away – suffice it to say that by the time the last page is turned one is left in no doubt that Tartt has produced a limpid and finished work of art.

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Prospect

Good
Reviewed by Elaine Showalter on Sep 18 2013

Although the novel is 784 pages long, it is meticulously structured and paced, and reading it is an enthralling experience of total immersion in Tartt’s vision and voice. A beautiful and important book.

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Kentucky.com

Good
Reviewed by Hephzibah Anderson on Oct 27 2013

Donna Tartt's long-awaited new novel, The Goldfinch, is an out-and-out dazzler, a thrilling reminder of how intellectually stimulating first-rate storytelling can be.

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Vanity Fair

Good
Reviewed by David Gilbert on Nov 01 2013

As one character says of Fabritius and his special little bird, “There’s a doubleness. You see the mark, you see the paint for the paint, and also the living bird.” The next moment, he marvels at the physical weight of the painting’s wooden board, its surprising heft. The same holds true for The Goldfinch.

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The Big Issue

Below average
Reviewed by THOMAS QUINN on Sep 25 2013

...I think Tartt – who is fabulously rich, enigmatic and talented – gets a dose of big book-itis. Because this book is so large, whatever she puts in it MUST BE GENIUS. Well, it isn’t. It’s actually a drag for quite a long time as we get the minutiae of Theo’s cloistered, then utterly neglected existence...

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National Post arts

Below average
Reviewed by Zsuzsi Gartner on Nov 01 2013

It’s as if Tartt wanted to write a convincing realist novel, but felt compelled to keep reminding readers that it is a novel. She wanted to have her tart and eat it, too.

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http://skrishnasbooks.com

Above average
Reviewed by Swapna Krishna on Oct 21 2013

...Tartt manages to juxtapose these two opposites, ensuring that the reader feels for a boy who doesn’t quite now how to feel for himself. Really, at its heart, it’s Theo’s story, and despite his missteps and blunders, readers will be won over by him from beginning to end.

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Readings

Below average
Reviewed by Ruth McIver on Oct 22 2013

Tartt devotes a large, curiously uneven amount of time to Theo’s pained adolescence, which makes sense on a narrative level, but somewhat interferes with pace.

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BrodartVibe's Blog

Excellent
Reviewed by Susan on Sep 26 2013

Words cannot do justice to describe the splendor of this work. If you read no other book this year you must choose this tour de force from Donna Tartt and experience what everyone else in the literary world will be soon be gushing about!

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Bibliophile By the Sea

Good
on Oct 21 2013

I loved the way the novel drew me into the world of art, and although it can't be considered a happy story, it is a story that, for me, had a very satisfying conclusion.

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Bermuda Onion's Weblog

Good
on Nov 01 2013

The book is told from Theo’s perspective in the first person and it’s long and rambling at times but the writing is so gorgeous and the story is so engrossing, I was captivated the whole time.

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My Bookish Ways

Below average
on Sep 26 2013

There will be many that think that the book is a little long in the tooth (it is, at almost 800 pages), or that the prose wanders a little too much (sometimes, it does), however, I found Theo’s story fascinating, sad, strangely uplifting, and ultimately impossible to take my eyes from.

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Bookmunch

Good
on Nov 30 2013

I was sad as I drew to the end but resolutely thrilled at the sheer enjoyment of reading the book. I am sad as I draw to the end of this review because I could go on and on talking about it...

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The Booksellers New Zealand blog

Below average
Reviewed by Renée Boyer-Willisson on Oct 21 2013

My only gripe was with the last few pages of the book where Theo falls into exposition...Perhaps Tartt didn’t quite trust her readers to understand what she was trying to say, but I felt like it was an unnecessarily drawn out and slightly dull ending...

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It's Either Sadness or Euphoria

Good
Reviewed by Larry on Nov 03 2013

You may think to yourself, almost 800 pages? Is it worth it? Will I be able to get into the story? I'd say unequivocally, yes, to both of those questions. While not a perfect book, The Goldfinch is one that will leave you thinking long after you've finished it.

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http://flavorwire.com

Good
Reviewed by Emily Temple on Oct 23 2013

In the end, the book is not just a romp, not just Harry Potter for adult realists...not just a tome of an adventure story. Tartt has deep insights on the human condition, the tragedy of waywardness, and the nature of art...

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BookPeople's Blog

Good
Reviewed by Consuelo on Oct 22 2013

Like Donna Tartt’s other novels, The Goldfinch will stick with me in the best possible way – when a story is close to your heart for the mere fact that it is a great story, one that spellbinds you and demands your attention.

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A Common Reader

Good
on Nov 11 2013

...despite The Goldfinch’s great length you will end up wanting to spin it out to prevent it from ending too soon. Altogether a masterly work of fiction well worth waiting for.

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The Review Broads

Excellent
Reviewed by Ava on Sep 16 2013

Tartt has offered up a magnificent novel, a must read novel, that creates a third dimension of both the art world and the novel and its characters. Mellifluous and tender, complex, and simply brilliant.

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George Kelley

Below average
on Nov 14 2013

Whether you’re going to like Donna Tartt’s 771-page novel depends on whether you can tolerate the narration of a teen-age narrator for all those pages.

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Isabel Costello

Below average
Reviewed by Isabel Costello on Nov 13 2013

I must be honest here – the final third of the book lost me...It was more that once the scene shifted to Amsterdam, there was a sudden influx of international gangsters...and high-octane action which had a jarring and confusing effect.

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Reader Rating for The Goldfinch
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Deborah Grove 14 Jul 2014

Excellent, though could have used a few edits to make it shorter.

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