Tag: The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

Book Review of The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

I read this book as part of the 2017 European Reading Challenge and also The Bestseller Code Reading Challenge.   Locations include Belgium &  The Netherlands, mostly Amsterdam, and the United States.

The Goldfinch*, by David Nicholls

(*Amazon Affiliate link)

The Goldfinch (2014) is Donna Tartt’s third novel, following her critically acclaimed debut novel The Secret History (1992) and The Little Friend (2003).  Observe the number of years between each publication date; Tartt takes her time, writing large novels, both in length and in scope.

Bildungsroman

When I finish a book, I like to read other descriptions and reviews.  Sometimes those reviews gel the thoughts and feelings I had while reading the novel, while other times I disagree entirely with the reviewer.  While reading through a few reviews for The Goldfinch, I came across a new term (to me): bildungsroman.  Merriam-Webster provides this definition:

literature : a novel about the moral and psychological growth of the main character – a bildungsroman by Charles Dickens

This is certainly an apt description for The Goldfinch, as Tartt leads the main character, Theo Decker, on a decade long journey of life-altering catastrophes, emotional and physical upheavals, grief, and survivor’s guilt, providing plenty of opportunities for moral and psychological growth.  As a reader, Theo drew me in from the very beginning, and I followed his journey avidly, hoping he would make it through the storms, while preparing myself for the possibility that he would not.

Truisms and Real Literature

Some reviewers blasted The Goldfinch for not being “real literature” because the novel explained too much to the reader and didn’t require said reader to have to analyze the book for its underlying message.  The last chapter presents several “truisms” that Theo has come to realize from his bildungsroman, and they are spelled out for the reader.  These reviews included long rants about what the term “real literature” means, what makes a book “serious” and “literary” rather than merely a contemporary novel, quickly read and easily forgotten.  The same discussion occurs with art.  What is art?  What makes it art?  Tartt addresses this:

You see one painting, I see another, the art book puts it at another remove still, the lady buying the greeting card at the museum gift shop sees something else entire, and that’s not even to mention the people separated from us by time—four hundred years before us, four hundred years after we’re gone—it’ll never strike anybody the same way and the great majority of people it’ll never strike in any deep way at all but—a really great painting is fluid enough to work its way into the mind and heart through all kinds of different angles, in ways that are unique and very particular.

 

In the end, art is whatever makes us, as individuals, feel.  Literature is the same.  It challenges us individually.  It speaks to us individually.  It affects us individually.  For me, The Goldfinch is definitely literature, worthy of the time it took to read.  It’s a book that I will think about and mull over for weeks to come, and one that I will quite likely read again.

This is an abbreviated review.  For the full review, please visit It’s A Mystery Blog.

Weekly Overview 01.15.18

Outside My Window…  sunshine! Oops!  No, that was half an hour ago.  Now the clouds (rain, and then later snow) are rolling in.

I am thinking…  that I got outside this morning and walked while it was (relatively) warm (60) and sunny.

I am thankful for… the new fitness tracker I have.  I wasn’t sure I wanted one, but when one of Bill’s coworkers offered the deal of the week on one he had purchased but couldn’t use, I took a chance.  I set it up yesterday and it’s rather cool.  I do think it will be an impetus to get more activity in each day.

I am hoping… that that winter weather event we’re supposed to have tonight comes and goes quickly without leaving snow behind!

 I am reading…

  • The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
  • Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain by John J. Ratey
  • Jeff Gordon: His Dream, Drive & Destiny by Joe Garner
  • Fast Food Genocide: How Processed Food is Killing Us and What We Can Do About It by Joel Fuhrman

I am busy creating… a granny square afghan, which is a gift for a relative having a BIG birthday later this year.  I’m almost done with it, but it’s so nice to work on an afghan when the weather outside is cold.  I need to crochet snowflakes when I’m done with the afghan, but I may drag out an afghan kit I bought a couple of years ago and work on that instead.  It’ll depend upon how much more of this below freezing weather we have in January/February.

I am hearing… the Morning Joe show on MSBNC.  I tape it every morning and often watch the first segment, sometimes more.

Around the house…  Christmas décor is still up – I intend to leave it up until February.  The kitchen/breakfast area/back hallway/laundry room/downstairs bathroom floors are swept and newly mopped, something that was well overdue.  The rest of the downstairs could use a good vacuuming.

Around the garden…  there’s not much going on.  It’s been cold and I am a warm weather gardener.  Leaves cover the gardens and the lawn – somewhat intentionally, but it looks like hell.  I probably should have watered some containers this morning when it was nice, but I’m hoping Mother Nature will take care of that later today.  My Swiss chard is currently uncovered, but I’ll be putting the sheet back over it tonight, as the temperature is supposed to drop into the teens.  I’m amazed it looks as good as it does, considering how cold it has been the last few weeks and how many days it has been covered with the sheet!

In other news…  I have made progress on cleaning up my office, organizing things there, and logging receipts into Quicken.  I still have a long ways to go, but I anticipate finishing up with the estate portion of receipts later today.  That’s the current big push – need to get that done so I can get reimbursed for some of those expenses!

One of my favorite things…  is our new loveseat / sleeper sofa that is in the bonus room.  Both David and I have been using the room and the loveseat as a reading retreat.  And, as you can see from the picture below, Copper likes it too!  I’ve got it covered with some sheets while we work on the drywall in the room, and Copper is perched on top of the two big throw pillows that came with the loveseat.

Our Weekly Overview… 

Karen:  This week’s focus is continuing with logging receipts into Quicken, a few housecleaning bits, and getting the Dart inspected.  I also need to make a concerted effort to read as much as I can of our current 100 Bestseller Code book, The Goldfinch, so I can write a review later in the week.  On Wednesday evening I have my Master Gardener Graduation Banquet, which Bill will attend with me.  Thursday afternoon I have a Mentor Meeting, where I will be assigned a 2018 Master Gardener Intern to mentor.

Bill:  Bill is working from home all week.  He’s also continuing to putter with his remote control airplane that he brought back from the Alabama storage unit.  I am enjoying him having a hobby to occupy his downtime, and he’s enjoying doing something that has nothing to do with computers.

David:  College classes begin on Tuesday for David.  They are all online classes, but just what that means will likely be something different for all four classes in which he is currently enrolled.

Here’s a picture thought I am sharing …