Cover image for The goldfinch
The goldfinch
Publication Information:
New York : Hachette Audio ; Prince Frederick, MD : Distributed by Recorded Books, p2013.
Physical Description:
26 sound discs (32 hr., 30 min.) : digital ; 4 3/4 in.
General Note:
Compact disc.

In container (17 cm.).
Taken in by a wealthy family friend after surviving an accident that killed his mother, thirteen-year-old Theo Decker tries to adjust to life on Park Avenue.
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1:CTWAV TARTT 1 .CIRCNOTE. 26 compact discs
CD Book TARTT, DONNA 1 .CIRCNOTE. *****26 CD'S*****
CD Book PS3570.A657G65 2013 1 .CIRCNOTE. 26 cds

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" The Goldfinch is a rarity that comes along perhaps half a dozen times per decade, a smartly written literary novel that connects with the heart as well as the mind....Donna Tartt has delivered an extraordinary work of fiction."-- Stephen King, The New York Times Book Review

Theo Decker, a 13-year-old New Yorker, miraculously survives an accident that kills his mother. Abandoned by his father, Theo is taken in by the family of a wealthy friend. Bewildered by his strange new home on Park Avenue, disturbed by schoolmates who don't know how to talk to him, and tormented above all by his longing for his mother, he clings to the one thing that reminds him of her: a small, mysteriously captivating painting that ultimately draws Theo into the underworld of art.

As an adult, Theo moves silkily between the drawing rooms of the rich and the dusty labyrinth of an antiques store where he works. He is alienated and in love--and at the center of a narrowing, ever more dangerous circle.

The Goldfinch is a mesmerizing, stay-up-all-night and tell-all-your-friends triumph, an old-fashioned story of loss and obsession, survival and self-invention, and the ruthless machinations of fate.

Reviews 6

Publisher's Weekly Review

Donna Tartt's latest novel clocks in at an unwieldy 784 pages. The story begins with an explosion at the Metropolitan Museum that kills narrator Theo Decker's beloved mother and results in his unlikely possession of a Dutch masterwork called The Goldfinch. Shootouts, gangsters, pillowcases, storage lockers, and the black market for art all play parts in the ensuing life of the painting in Theo's care. Tartt's flair for suspense, on display in The Secret History (2005), features the pulp of a typical bildungsroman-Theo's dissolution into teenage delinquency and climb back out, his passionate friendship with the very funny Boris, his obsession with Pippa (a girl he first encounters minutes before the explosion)-but the painting is the novel's secret heart. Theo's fate hinges on the painting, and both take on depth as it steers Theo's life. Some sentences are clunky ("suddenly" and "meanwhile" abound), metaphors are repetitive (Theo's mother is compared to birds three times in 10 pages), and plot points are overly coincidental (as if inspired by TV), but there's a bewitching urgency to the narration that's impossible to resist. Theo is magnetic, perhaps because of his well-meaning criminality. The Goldfinch is a pleasure to read; with more economy to the brushstrokes, it might have been great. Agent: Amanda Urban, ICM. (Oct. 22) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Guardian Review

Like almost everyone else, I consumed Donna Tartt's electric first novel The Secret History in a couple of fevered sittings. Here was a psychological page-turner concocted with such genuine emotional sophistication that you felt you'd stumbled on a whole new way of writing. Tartt conveyed the sly evil of amorality with a subtlety that chilled, and in doing so created that relatively rare thing: an immensely readable, yet properly grown-up, debut novel. But that was 20 years ago. And, with only one novel since, our appetite for a new Tartt remains lusty. I don't know what I was expecting when, with some excitement, I picked up The Goldfinch, but a Harry Potter tribute novel was definitely not it. Theo is 13 when he survives a bomb attack that kills his mother. Caught in a rainstorm, ducking into a museum to take in an exhibition of old Dutch masters, she has just shown him her favourite, Fabritius's The Goldfinch "the smallest in the exhibition and the simplest" when the explosion hits. Though Theo was stirred by the painting, he was even more stirred by a feisty red-haired girl whom he'd seen accompanying an elderly man around the exhibition. Now, bloodied and dying, this same man presses an antique ring on Theo, which he tells him to take to a place called Hobart and Blackwell "Ring the green bell!" He also urges him to grab Fabritius's painting, lying there frameless and unguarded, and take it home. In a post-traumatic daze, Theo obeys. Since Theo's reprobate father ran off some months ago, he is effectively an orphan. Taken in by a school friend's wealthy yet emotionally chilly family on Park Avenue, and still grieving for his mother, he finally remembers to track down Hobart and Blackwell and ring the green bell. There he finds himself welcomed by Hobie, an eccentric but kindly antiques dealer who wears a "rich paisley robe with satin lapels" that 'fell almost to his ankles and flowed massively around him'. So far, so JK Rowling. The sensation only deepens when, a few pages later, Theo gets new glasses that are, yes, "round, tortoiseshell". And when, 100-odd pages after that, his new best friend actually tells him he looks like the boy wizard ''Where's your broomstick?" "Left it at Hogwarts,' I said" you do start wondering what on earth Tartt is up to here. Hobie is the business partner of the dead man who, it turns out, was the uncle of the red-haired girl who, like Theo, has survived the attack. Finding sanctuary in his increasingly regular visits to the kindly wizard sorry, antiques dealer Theo befriends her. He is therefore aghast when his alcoholic, drug-and-gambling-addict father turns up with a Juicy Couture-wearing, cocaine-snorting girlfriend and whisks him off to live with them in Vegas. Here, Theo meets rascally Russian boy Boris (who nicknames him Potter) and these two latchkey children embark on a friendship which, though it includes lengthily described drink and drugs binges and even the odd youthful dabble in homosexuality, nevertheless retains such a bizarrely gung-ho flavour that it might all just as well be straight out of Hogwarts. And all this time, Theo still has the painting, which, though hidden away, he likes to know is there "for the depth and solidity it gave things". Fast-forward eight years and it is not spoiling anything to reveal that, with "Potter" now in his 20s, the high jinks continue with ever more drug-addled capers, some of them (inevitably) bloody. For we are now in the world of art crime and, though there is a (mildly guessable) twist involving the painting, and a certain amount of heist movie-style plotting, for all the lack of any real adult darkness or complexity or consequence, we honestly might just as well still be on platform 9¾. And I admit that by this point, close to the end of a monotonous 800-page novel, I was truly perplexed. Nothing wrong, I suppose, with a Harry Potter homage, but it's hard for an adult reader to be gripped by a tale with no real subtext and peopled entirely by Goodies and Baddies. And, though our narrator comes over as (just about) plausibly male and hetero, his unrequited love for the redhead only exists because Tartt tells us it does. If what we have here is an unreliable narrator who desperately needs to burst out of the closet, then I stand corrected, but nothing in the prose evidences that. Instead it feels as if Tartt simply forgets from time to time what's driving her juggernaut forwards. Hence both redhead and painting the two supposed passions of our protagonist's life are dropped for hundreds of pages at a time, and I'm afraid we don't miss them. But maybe none of this would matter much if the writing itself were sharp and pacy, light on its feet. Unfortunately it's leaden, bereft of any attitude or attack, vision or edge. How on earth could a novelist who once treated us to such a tautly sustained suspense-fest have forgotten that one of fiction's most vital tools is the edit, the cut, the authorial nerve to be in charge and not have to tell the reader absolutely bloody everything? Conversations, monologues many of them in Boris's broken and extremely tedious-to-read Russian accent are drawn out over pages. They take the plot nowhere and all too frequently only reiterate things we already know. Not only that, but every scene, every character's face and clothes, every new place or aeroplane or bus or room, whether ultimately relevant or not, is described at such voluminous length that you honestly begin to wonder who the writer is trying to convince you, or herself? There are some highs. Narcotics and antiques: these, you feel, are where Tartt's heart lies. Her description of the terrible white-knuckle ride that is addiction, while not perhaps deserving of so many pages, has the heartsink ring of authenticity. And when she describes the eerie life of inanimate objects, the way that antique furniture, nurtured and respected down the centuries, can acquire an almost talismanic power, then I believe her absolutely. Here at last her prose comes alive. Sadly it's not enough to save this great, mystifying mess of a novel. I was intrigued to discover that Fabritius's painting really does exist not, to be fair, that this matters a jot to the novel. But if even I, no art historian, vaguely remember that goldfinches were often icons of the messiah, then how can Tartt have Theo wonder (again and again) what the artist meant when he painted it: "Why this subject? A lonely pet bird? Which was in no way characteristic of his age or time" ? Maybe it's a sad symptom of how little confidence I had by now in either novel or author that, instead of trusting that Tartt must have her reasons for leaving it out, I simply suspected she'd forgotten to put it in. Remember the suicidally long, dope-fuelled follow-up novel that Grady Tripp is writing in Chabon's Wonder Boys? Well, guys, here it is.

Kirkus Review

A long-awaited, elegant meditation on love, memory and the haunting power of art. Tartt (The Little Friend, 2002, etc.) takes a long time, a decade or more, between novels. This one, her third, tells the story of a young man named Theodore Decker who is forced to grapple with the world alone after his mother--brilliant, beautiful and a delight to be around--is felled in what would seem to be an accident, if an explosion inside a museum can be accidental. The terrible wreckage of the building, a talismanic painting half buried in plaster and dust, "the stink of burned clothes, and an occasional soft something pressing in on me that I didn't want to think about"--young Theo will carry these things forever. Tartt's narrative is in essence an extended footnote to that horror, with his mother becoming ever more alive in memory even as the time recedes: not sainted, just alive, the kind of person Theo misses because he can't tell her goofy things (his father taking his mistress to a Bon Jovi concert in Las Vegas, for instance: "It seemed terrible that she would never know this hilarious fact") as much as for any other reason. The symbolic echoes Tartt employs are occasionally heavy-handed, and it's a little too neat that Theo discovers the work of the sublime Dutch master Carel Fabritius, killed in a powder blast, just before the fateful event that will carry his mother away. Yet it all works. "All the rest of it is lost--everything he ever did," his mother quietly laments of the little-known artist, and it is Theo's mission as he moves through life to see that nothing in his own goes missing. Bookending Jonathan Safran Foer's Extremely Loud Incredibly Close, this is an altogether lovely addition to what might be called the literature of disaster and redemption. The novel is slow to build but eloquent and assured, with memorable characters, not least a Russian cracker-barrel philosopher who delivers a reading of God that Mordecai Richler might applaud. A standout--and well worth the wait.]] Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Booklist Review

*Starred Review* Cataclysmic loss and rupture with criminal intent visited upon the young have been Tartt's epic subjects as she creates one captivating and capacious novel a decade, from The Secret History (1992) to The Little Friend (2002) to this feverish saga. In the wake of his nefarious father's abandonment, Theo, a smart, 13-year-old Manhattanite, is extremely close to his vivacious mother until an act of terrorism catapults him into a dizzying world bereft of gravity, certainty, or love. Tartt writes from Theo's point of view with fierce exactitude and magnetic emotion as, stricken with grief and post-traumatic stress syndrome, he seeks sanctuary with a troubled Park Avenue family and, in Greenwich Village, with a kind and gifted restorer of antique furniture. Fate then delivers Theo to utterly alien Las Vegas, where he meets young outlaw Boris. As Theo becomes a complexly damaged adult, Tartt, in a boa constrictor-like plot, pulls him deeply into the shadow lands of art, lashed to seventeenth-century Dutch artist Carel Fabritius and his exquisite if sinister painting, The Goldfinch. Drenched in sensory detail, infused with Theo's churning thoughts and feelings, sparked by nimble dialogue, and propelled by escalating cosmic angst and thriller action, Tartt's trenchant, defiant, engrossing, and rocketing novel conducts a grand inquiry into the mystery and sorrow of survival, beauty and obsession, and the promise of art. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Word of best-selling Tartt's eagerly awaited third novel will travel fast and far via an author tour, interviews, and intense print, media, and online publicity.--Seaman, Donna Copyright 2010 Booklist

New York Review of Books Review

The goldfinch referred to in the title of Donna Tartt's dazzling new novel is a charming painting of a pet bird created in 1654 by the Dutch artist Carel Fabritius, who died that year at 32, when the gunpowder arsenal in Delft exploded, destroying part of the city. His "Goldfinch" is considered a small but priceless masterpiece of Dutch painting. Ms. Tartt has made Fabritius's bird the MacGuffin at the center of her glorious, Dickensian novel, a novel that pulls together all her remarkable storytelling talents into a rapturous, symphonic whole and reminds the reader of the immersive, stay-up-all-night pleasures of reading. "The Goldfinch" is at once a thriller involving the theft and disappearance of the Fabritius painting, a panoramic portrait of New York (and, for that matter, America) in the post-Sept. 11 era, and, most especially, an old-fashioned Bildungsroman, complete with a "Great Expectations"-like plot involving an orphan, his moral and sentimental education and his mysterious benefactor. It's a novel that weds Ms. Tartt's gift for orchestrating suspense (showcased in her best-selling and much-talked-about 1992 debut, "The Secret History") with the hard-won knowledge she acquired in her ungainly 2002 novel, "The Little Friend," of how to map the interior lives of her characters. It's a work that shows us how many emotional octaves Ms. Tartt can now reach, how seamlessly she can combine the immediate and tactile with more wide-angled concerns - how she can tackle the sort of big, philosophical questions addressed by the Russian masters even as she's giving us a palpable sense, say, of what it's like to be perilously high on medical-grade painkillers, or a lesson in distinguishing real antiques from fakes. Ms. Tartt's theatrical, almost willful dwelling on the gothic in "The Secret History" has given way here to a deeply felt awareness of mortality and the losses that define the human condition; her controlled, cerebral approach to characters in that novel has given way to a keen appreciation of the tangled complexities of the mind and heart. The narrator and hero of "The Goldfinch" is one Theo Decker, 13 when we first meet him, a smart New York scholarship kid who lives alone with his mother in a small Manhattan apartment. His heavy-drinking father, who abruptly left them (no money, no forwarding address), was always so unreliable that Theo developed a lasting fear that his mother might not come home from work: "Addition and subtraction were useful mainly insofar as they helped me track her movements (how many minutes till she left the office? How many minutes to walk from office to subway?)." Then, one day, everything changes: Theo and his mother are at the Metropolitan Museum of Art to see an exhibition featuring one of her favorite paintings - "The Goldfinch" - when a terrorist bomb explodes. Theo's mother is killed, and his life divides, forever, into a Before and After. In the confusion of the bomb's aftermath, Theo has a strange encounter with a delirious old man injured in the blast. The man, who turns out to be the uncle of a beautiful girl named Pippa, whom Theo glimpsed at the museum before the explosion, begs Theo to save "The Goldfinch" from the burning wreckage and gives him a ring, whispering the cryptic words: "Hobart and Blackwell. Ring the green bell." Somehow, with these two mysterious objects in his possession, Theo stumbles out of the museum and into a new chapter in his life. Soon, Theo is living on Park Avenue with the wealthy Barbours, the family of his school friend Andy, while serving a kind of apprenticeship to James Hobart, the former business partner of the dying man in the museum and an expert in antiques restoration who lives above his old curiosity shop in Greenwich Village. Although Theo initially intends to return the painting he has grabbed so impulsively, he finds it difficult to get it back to the museum unobtrusively, and he realizes that he's developed a deep emotional attachment to the artwork, which he's come to think of as a talisman of his beloved mother. This sequence of events may sound highly improbable, but Ms. Tartt is adept at harnessing all the conventions of the Dickensian novel - including startling coincidences and sudden swerves of fortune - to lend Theo's story a stark, folk-tale dimension as well as a visceral appreciation of the randomness of life and fate's sometimes cruel sense of humor. At the same time, the sudden reversals and comebacks in Theo's life begin to signify something about the American dream itself: the promise of fresh starts and second acts, the continual possibility of reinvention. In much the same way, Theo's peregrinations - which take him from WASP-y Upper East Side soirees to grungy drug haunts near Tompkins Square to the "oceanic, endless glare" of the western frontier - give us a window on the ever-shifting American landscape and its emotional dislocations. No sooner have the Barbours and Hobart begun to provide Theo with the semblance of stability than his disreputable father, Larry, resurfaces, intent on asserting his parental rights and suspiciously keen on cleaning out his wife's apartment. Larry appears to support himself and his girlfriend by gambling, and he quickly whisks Theo (who's packed "The Goldfinch" painting in his suitcase) away to his McMansion in the Vegas desert. Ms. Tartt captures "the hot mineral emptiness" of this neighborhood, full of empty houses in foreclosure, as deftly as she has conjured New York City. Indeed, she turns out to have a wonderfully adroit sense of place, evoking the anonymity and hive-mind flow of Midtown Manhattan in the rain (reminiscent of Eliot's "Unreal City" in "The Waste Land"), the small-town rhythms of the Village and the neon theme-park thrum of the Vegas strip with equal acuity and élan. It's clear that Theo is suffering post-traumatic stress disorder from the museum bombing and is still sick with grief over the loss of his mother - feelings only heightened by being plunked down in the lonely Nevada desert. His salvation is a new best friend named Boris: a funny, profane, street-smart kid who grew up in Australia, Russia and Ukraine and who will play Artful Dodger to Theo's Oliver Twist. The sly Boris is a memorable creation, a testament to Ms. Tartt's ability to create people who have the sort of physicality and psychological depth that Saul Bellow's characters possessed, a vitality and corporality that make the reader feel that they have a life beyond the page. Even the supporting characters in "The Goldfinch" are a finely drawn lot: Theo's mother, quick and birdlike in her starched shirts, a Kansas girl turned catalog model turned art history student, ardent in her knowledge of New York and protective of her only child; Pippa, the elfin, redheaded girl whom Theo regards as a fellow survivor (of the museum bomb blast) and a kind of soul mate; and Andy's beautiful, gregarious and mysteriously detached sister, Kitsey, whom Theo will contemplate marrying as a way to ground his wayward life. Theo and Boris will spend a lot of time drinking and getting high in Vegas, but with different motives. As Boris later puts it: "I was trying to have fun and be happy. You wanted to be dead. It's different." In fact, Theo's lingering trauma over the loss of his mother and his angst about something terrible that has happened to his father have led him to develop a serious addiction to opiates. After his return to New York, Theo joins Hobart's antiques business and tries to stabilize his life. It's not long, however, before he finds himself in an increasingly precarious position: a customer threatens to expose the store for passing off fakes as rare and expensive antiques, and investigations into the disappearance of "The Goldfinch" painting have heated up: there are even mystifying suggestions that it is being used as collateral in international drug deals. Ms. Tartt recounts these developments with complete authority and narrative verve, injecting even the most unlikely ones with a sense of inevitability while orchestrating a snowballing series of events that will grow ever more dangerous as Theo becomes involved with violent criminals who covet "The Goldfinch" as much as he does. But it's not just narrative suspense that drives this book; it's Theo and Boris, the stars of this enthralling novel, who will assume seats in the great pantheon of classic buddy acts (alongside Laurel and Hardy, Vladimir and Estragon, and Pynchon's Mason and Dixon), taking up permanent residence in the reader's mind.

Library Journal Review

This latest work from Tartt (Little Friend) is nothing like the small, exquisitely rendered painting of the title. Protagonist Theo Decker is just 13 years old when his mother is killed in an explosion at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art, which the two had been visiting (but when?). Before the explosion, Theo makes eye contact with an appealing girl his age; afterward, he lifts the goldfinch painting (but why?) and is given a ring by the older man accompanying the girl (but why?). The ring leads him to Hobart and Blackwell, an antiques shop where he meets both generous proprietor Hobie and Pippa, the girl from the museum, who remains the elusive love of Theo's life. Meanwhile, Theo stays with the wealthy family of his sort-of friend Andy until his long-gone father reappears to plunder the mother's apartment (but who paid the rent all that time?) and take poor Theo to Las Vegas. There, free of parental guidance, Theo befriends Russian bad-boy Boris and goes off track, eventually returning to New York, floundering through school, and setting up business with Hobie, whom he more or less betrays (but why?). Verdict There might be an acute psychological portrait of grief and growth buried here, but there's so much unconsidered detail that subject and background seem switched, as in a badly done painting. We should feel for Theo in his anguish, but instead he leaves an acrid taste in the mouth. Tartt is beloved, and readers are going to go after this book (but why?). [See Prepub Alert, 4/1/13.]-Barbara Hoffert, Library Journal (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.