The Goldfinch

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*Gulp* that was so, so good. The first book I completed in 2014 and it will have to take something extremely, extremely special to knock it off my favourite book of the year. The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt is about a young boy, Theo, whose life is well and truly f***ed up upon the death of his mother; art theft is involved, as is drug abuse, depression and some extremely dodgy characters and to some extent, yes, in a way it is a depressing book but in another, bigger way, it’s beautiful, it’s about the transience of existence and the immortal art work we leave behind.

Crossing between New York, Las Vegas and Amsterdam, you really get immersed in each city and you meet some wonderful characters, my utter favourite being Hobie, who I can honestly say I fell a little bit in love with. Hobie is a genial antique restorer who is like a safe harbour to Theo and I think everyone could do with a Hobie in their lives. As Theo grows up he makes some terrible decisions, some of which impact on Hobie and as I read I was almost cringing, going “Don’t do that to Hobie!” but the genius of Tartt is that, although they are terrible decisions, you know exactly why Theo is doing them, every character action is understandable. There’s some key scenes between Theo and Hobie towards the end of the book where my heart was in my mouth, forgetting to breath, literally squirming.

As usual for me these days, I’m actually reading three books at once; The Goldfinch was my audiobook (brilliant narration to) and I also have an ebook and a paperback on the go to. To be honest I’m barely looking at the ebook and I’m struggling with the paperback because they’ve both been totally outshone by The Goldfinch. And it made me realise why I was struggling in particular with the (will currently remain nameless) paperback, in The Goldfinch the characters were literally alive to me, like I said, I fell a little bit in love with Hobie and as I was reading my paperback, I couldn’t help but think “why am I not ‘getting’ this book, like I’m getting The Goldfinch?” and that’s what it was, in The Goldfinch the characters were alive to me, if one of them walked into the room as I was reading I swear I wouldn’t be surprised, whereas in the currently nameless paperback, well, the characters in comparison are just constructs for things to happen to, their only reality the paper they were printed on. I am now in a little bit of mourning, I want to know what happened to Theo and his friends, in my head I think I know what happened to them, although that’s torn between the happy ending I want for them all and what I think would have really happened.

***** (out of 5)

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