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Saturday, 29 March 2014

Donna Tartt - THE GOLDFINCH

reviewed live on the bookshow feb 2014 by Babs Simpson.  This is her review:
THIS AUTHOR PRODUCES A HUGE NOVEL EVERY 10YRS AND I THOROUGHLY ENJOYED HER PREVIOUS TWO - THE SECRET HISTORY - A STUNNING DEBUT NOVEL WRITTEN WHEN SHE WAS IN HER 20's - AND THE LITTLE FRIEND WHICH APPEARED 10 YEARS LATER.
THE HERO OF THE GOLDFINCH IS THEO DECKER, BROUGHT UP IN NEW YORK BY HIS MOTHER AFTER HIS FECKLESS FATHER LEAVES THEM.  THEO AND HIS MOTHER ADORE EACH OTHER AND ARE VERY CLOSE.  THEN ONE DAY, WHEN HE IS 13, ON A VISIT TO A MUSEUM, A TERRORIST BOMB EXPLODES AND THEO'S MOTHER IS KILLED.  HE ESCAPES WITH MINOR INJURIES AND AMID THE DUST AND RUBBLE, THEO SEES AN ELDERLY GENTLEMAN, BADLY HURT AND TALKS TO HIM UNTIL THE MAN PASSES AWAY AFTER GIVING THEO A HEAVY GOLD RING WHICH HE TELLS HIM TO TAKE TO AN ADDRESS IN GREENWICH VILLAGE.
THEO GETS OUT OF THE WRECKED BUILDING WITHOUT BEING SPOTTED BY ANY OF THE EMERGENCY SERVICES WHO ARE ON THE SCENE AND TAKES WITH HIM A SMALL PAINTING BY A DUTCH OLD MASTER AN EXQUISITE PICTURE OF A GOLDFINCH WHICH BECOMES MORE AND MORE OF A BURDEN THE LONGER HE KEEPS IT A SECRET.  AS INSTRUCTED HE RETURNS THE RING TO THE MAN IN GREENWICH VILLAGE, HOBIE, A CRAFTSMAN WHO RESTORES ANTIQUE FURNITURE.
HOBIE IS WONDERFUL, KINDLY AND UNASSUMING AND FROM HIM THEO DEVELOPS A PASSION FOR ANTIQUES.  BUT ALTHOUGH THEY BUILD A CLOSE FRIENDSHIP, HE DOESN'T SHARE THE AWFUL SECRET  OF THE PAINTING HE STOLE.  HE ALSO DEVELOPS A PASSION FOR PIPPA, HOBIES NIECE, WHO WAS INJURED IN THE BOMB EXPLOSION ON THAT FATEFUL DAY.
ONCE TRACED BY THE AUTHORITIES, THEO HAS TO LEAVE THE APARTMENT HE SHARED WITH HIS MOTHER AND IS TAKEN IN BY THE RICH FAMILY OF A SCHOOLFRIEND UNTIL HIS FATHER AND GIRLFRIEND COME TO TAKE HIM HOME WITH THEM TO LAS VEGAS.  THERE HE MEETS BORIS, SON OF A RUSSIAN OIL WORKER WHO HAS TRAVELLED THE WORLD AND WHO IS INTO DRUGS, ALCOHOL AND ANYTHING ELSE HE CAN GET HIS HANDS ON.
THEO'S LIFE IN LAS VEGAS IS A MUDDLE OF DRUG-FUELLED SESSIONS WITH BORIS AND GETTING TO KNOW HIS FATHER WHO HAS A GAMBLING HABIT THAT LEAVES HIM WITH TERRIBLE MONEY TROUBLES.  AND OF COURSE THE PAINTING OF THE GOLDFINCH - STILL A SECRET - WEIGHS HIM DOWN WITH GUILT.
EVENTUALLY THEO RETURNS TO NEW YORK WHERE HE LODGES WITH HOBIE AND JOINS HIM IN THE ANTIQUES TRADE BUT IS NOT AN ETHICAL DEALER AND DISHONESTLY MAKES A LOT OF MONEY WHICH WOULD APPAL HOBIE WHOSE LIFE IS CONCERNED ONLY WITH THE RESTORATION OF BEAUTIFUL OLD FURNITURE.
THEN BORIS COMES BACK INTO HIS LIFE AND IS INSTRUMENTAL IN RETURNING THE GOLDFINCH TO WHERE IT RIGHTFULLY BELONGS AND THE NOVEL FINISHES WITH THEO FINALLY AT EASE WITH HIS LIFE.
DONNA TARTTS WRITING IS AMAZING.  YOU ARE THEO THOUGH EVERYTHING, GOOD AND BAD.  HER DESCRIPTIONS OF PLACES, PEOPLE, MOODS, FEELINGS ARE INCREDIBLE AND ALTHOUGH I FOUND IT A BIT TEDIOUS FOR A SHORT TIME WHEN THEO IS IN AMSTERDAM TOWARDS THE END OF THIS HUGE BOOK, I WOULD HAVE TO RECOMMEND IT AS A MASTERPIECE OF FINE WRITING AND GREAT STORY-TELLING.

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