The Goldfinch, by Donna Tartt

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    Hilary FiskHilary Fisk

    This novel is an ambitious work spanning decades in the life of Theo Decker.  At the start of the book he is a New York schoolboy full of angst and neuroses. By the end, some decades later, he is a wheeler-dealer of antiques, purveyor of somewhat misrepresented Sheraton and Chippendale, who ends up….but that would be a spoiler! The initial sequence portrays a convincing and colourful picture of New York life and works intriguingly round to the confused way in which Theo becomes an art-collector (of sorts) – by ‘acquiring’ the painting of the ‘Goldfinch’ of the title – and making the acquaintance of the girl, Pippa and the saintly Welty. What ‘The Goldfinch’ represents to Theo changes over time in a convincing fashion, but Theo himself is a bit of a cypher – certainly in contrast to the strong delineations of other characters such as his friend Boris, the enigmatic but mostly kind Mrs Barbour, and Hobie, the genius furniture restorer. The book is overlong (the LA sequence being particularly repetitive)  and could have done with a strict edit, but I rather think that elements of it will stay in my mind to be turned over and thought about for a good while yet. A partial recommend.  Only tackle if you like good long reads!

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