Book review

The Goldfinch

The Goldfinch
Read date: Oct 2018

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I’ve just finished The Goldfinch, and wow, I’m at a bit of a loss for words. This is an epic book in every sense – the prose is quite extraordinary, with hugely evocative descriptions of a scene or a person, sentences going across many many lines, and then a single phrase that stops you in your tracks, leaving you gazing about as if someone has unexpectedly slapped you across the face with a wet towel. And even though it is 800+ pages, the story is gripping throughout, a real page-turner, as my neglected wife would tell you!

In some ways it’s a book of two halves, with a gap of eight years between them, and if I had a criticism it’s perhaps that the second half was longer than it needed to be. Although the descriptions and paragraphs are still as compelling as the first, perhaps we could have sped up the pace a little at times in that second half. Much more than that, I cannot say, for fear of revealing any of the many twists and turns within. I was reminded on the one hand of Edith Wharton and The House of Mirth, for the detailed and exquisite descriptions, and on the other hand of Cormac McCarthy and Blood Meridian, for the despair and depth written into almost every line.

Regardless of my minor quibble about the second half, this is a book that is going to live large in my imagination. The characters, the colour and vividness of the scenes, all quite astonishing. Even the conclusion is a revelation, throwing the rest of the book into a new light.

And, dear reader, if I could write one sentence as beautifully as Donna Tart writes 841 pages, I think I would die happy.

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