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Book Review: "The Goldfinch" by Donna Tartt.

2.5/5 - severely underwhelming...

By Annie KapurPublished 2 years ago 3 min read

The Pulitzer Prize for Fiction is one of the most prestigious awards in fiction writing and honestly, there have been some amazing winners in the past including: The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead, The Road by Cormac McCarthy, Empire Falls by Richard Russo, The Hours by Michael Cunningham and a whole bunch of others. Now that I've mentioned these alone, you can kind of see a common theme of emotional depth of character, intense descriptions and atmospheres, simplistic plots that overwhelm and intensify as the book goes on. That's all well and good and possibly some of the criteria for winning the award. Unfortunately, I cannot say that I understand entirely how The Goldfinch was chosen to stand next to these. With hardly any character development and clichés at every corner, The Goldfinch proves that its prose is a good start that turns into a bunch of washy nonsense as the book goes on.

The Goldfinch is about a boy called Theo who was in an explosion at an art gallery which killed his mother. They had gone there to see an exhibition featuring her favourite painting called The Goldfinch (which was a surviving painting from a different explosion but this one was real and destroyed most of all the other works by that painter). Theo takes the painting and keeps it. As the book progresses, he realises his father doesn't care very much and goes to hang out with rich friends who treat him amicably. He begins using drugs to cope in the most cliché bildungsroman trope of the 20th and 21st centuries. He also likes a girl. That is sure going to end well for him (she says, sarcastically).

The book progresses without climax, constantly in a state of its own exposition, constantly trying to highlight how 'messed up' this child is, when in reality he probably just needs a lot of therapy. It's a great concept which slowly got worse and worse the more than was written on it. It should have been shorter than it was. I mean take a look at Less than Zero by Bret Easton Ellis, less than half the size of this book and yet, explores: the theme of grief, drugs as a coping mechanism and the idea that people can change for the worse as well as the better - a lot deeper than The Goldfinch does.

I can also tell you the reason for that. It's mainly because a lot of the writing does not feel like it is going anywhere. When you write a book, you need things like atmosphere, description, plot, character development, themes etc. But a lot of the writing in The Goldfinch seemed not to be actually adding any meaning but was there instead as an excuse for Donna Tartt to show off some skills in writing.

Honestly, I really wanted to like this book because of all the hype that was around it and because of all the awards it has won. But it really fell flat for me. It felt very cliché, it felt very underwhelming and I didn't feel like when I came out of it, I was begging to go back in. It just wasn't the right book for me because of everything in there that seemed to lead to nothing. But one of the most underwhelming parts of the novel was the ending. There seemed to be no actual ending to the book and I know how it's trying to be profound and all that, but there needs to be some sort of closure and there wasn't. I just feel a little bit sad about it.


About the Creator

Annie Kapur

200K+ Reads on Vocal.

English Lecturer

🎓Literature & Writing (B.A)

🎓Film & Writing (M.A)

🎓Secondary English Education (PgDipEd) (QTS)

📍Birmingham, UK

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