Thursday, 26 March 2015

The Goldfinch - Donna Tartt | Book Review

Let me just start this review by saying that this book took me five months to read. I am a quick reader; the last book that took me a long time to read was Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (a year and a half if anyone was wondering), and that was back in 2003. I can get through a book in a day, thus the length of time it took me to finish this, also noting that it was my 'travel' book at the time (including four flights, accumulating nearly 30 hours in total), my opinions of this book should already be fairly evident...

Essentially, the book follows Theo, a boy who loses his mother when a bomb goes off in the museum. Don't worry, this is not a spoiler. The psychological impact of this is in essence the underlying theme of the entire book. The painting, The Goldfinch by Fabritius of 1654, actually comes into it very little. Yet it is what Theo takes from the aftermath of the museum, given to him by a man who is dying there. The book then follows his life, which does veer on being one of those where things seem to just go from bad to worse. Or at the very least, they don't seem to ever go very well.

I started reading this book last August. I then finished it, desperately in December, to avoid having to bring it into the new year with me. I had kept on reading good reviews about it. It won the Pulitzer Prize. It was New York Times Bestseller. Everyone (seemed to have) loved it. Yet there I was, not hating it, but being so completely indifferent and unmoved by it, that I just became disillusioned with it. On numerous occasions when I was reading it in public, people stopped me and asked me if I was enjoying it. All I was ever capable of responding was with an audible 'Ehh...'
Don't get me wrong. The book is beautifully written; Tartt's writing style is one of my favourites and something that cannot be faulted. Her way with words is extraordinary. But the story and the characters...nothing captivated me. Not to mention it held nothing of the story I was expecting. Again, this may be through only fault of my own, in that I never read book blurbs, due to an immense fear and hatred of spoilers of any kind. Thus instead of a  beautiful story about a wonderful painting, I had 700 odd pages of the life of someone suffering with PTSD. 

Note that I mentioned I finished this three months ago. And am still bitter about it. This was reignited in me as I just read a review of it in which someone is a quarter of the way through and was raving about it. And I sat here going 'Why!? Just why!?' (For anyone who knows me, you will be able to imagine me saying this, and the gesticulation that went along with it). I am convinced that nobody actually likes this book. That it is all a ruse, which everyone is hiding behind because everybody else is. But I am here to bring you from that!
You do not need to love this book. I would never say do not read something, books are extremely subjective matters, but just keep in mind that there seems to be a conspiracy regarding the enjoyment of this book. I have discussed it with manymany people, and all of them have felt the same way as me about it. So stop with the positive reviews of The Goldfinch. If you don't like the charcters and their development, that's fine. If you don't like the storyline, that's fine. Yet if you cannot appreciate the way in which it has all been written, then that it not fine.
And with that, I shall leave you to make your own decisions upon this book.

Have you, or would you read The Goldfinch?

p.s. I realise that this turneed into more a book rant, than review...but at least it was honest!