Book review: The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

The GoldfinchThe Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

From BBC Radio 4 – Book at Bedtime:

At the heart of the novel lies a masterwork by the Dutch painter Carel Fabritius, a picture of a small chained bird, The Goldfinch. This tiny painting becomes the only certainty for thirteen year old Theo Decker when his secure world with his devoted mother is shattered and life becomes fallible and frightening. From the vagaries of existence with his foolish, reckless father, and a passionate friendship with the chaotic, warm-hearted, wild Boris, to the drawing rooms of the Upper East Side and a dusty downtown antique shop, Theo is left to find his own way through his teenage years and into adulthood. The painting is his talisman, his touchstone, until it draws him into a murky criminal underworld of drugs, art theft and fatal dealings.


1/15. Tiny Yellow Bird, Faint beneath a Veil of Dust: Theo finds a treasure amid the rubble.

2/15. Ring the Green Bell: Having survived the museum bombing, Theo must make a new life – and trace the owner of the antique ring.

3/15. A Morphine Lollipop: Theo finds a new and rare friendship in a dusty old antique shop – and is reunited with the girl with the golden-brown eyes.

4/15. Under a Desert Sky: The reappearance of his father changes Theo’s life again, as he, and the painting, find themselves cast adrift in the harsh light of Las Vegas.

5/15. What Are You Doing Here? In Las Vegas and under the hapless care of his father, Theo’s life becomes increasingly anarchic – only his new friend Boris offers consolation.

6/15. Revolver, Roadside or Roof: Boris offers Theo a timely warning, when a stranger comes looking for Theo’s father.

7/15. I Won’t Forget You: With his father dead, Theo knows he must leave Las Vegas, and Boris, and find his way to New York and the girl with the golden-brown eyes.

8/15. Museum Masterworks Recovered in the Bronx: The discovery of other lost art fuels Theo’s anxiety about ‘his’ painting.

9/15. I Know About the Museum: Theo’s fraudulent dealings lead him into a murkier art world – and his long-held secret looks suddenly vulnerable to exposure.

10/15. Friend of My Youth: Boris’s unexpected reappearance prompts first joy then anger as he reveals a terrible truth that will shake Theo’s world.

11/15. Negotiable Instrument: Theo finds that both art and love can be bought, sold and used as collateral.

12/15. Who I Needed to Be With: An evening with Pippa confirms Theo’s feelings, but life is complicated, and Boris offers a way out.

13/15. This Is for You: In a foggy, pre-Christmas Amsterdam, Boris is determined to put The Goldfinch back in Theo’s hands, whatever the cost.

14/15. No-One Knows of This Thing Except Us: Alone in his hotel, with blood on his hands, Theo faces a future without the painting, Boris or freedom.

15/15. Sometimes You Have to Lose to Win: Loss proves bountiful, as Theo comes to understand what his painting meant and what to take forward into the future.

It’s amazing how Donna Tartt managed to write another 5 star book even 10 years after she had written “The Secret History” – see my review here, another magnificent book.

Some interesting hints about the beautiful cover of this book:

The Goldfinch by Carel Fabritius

Friday Book Design Blog: The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt


4 thoughts on “Book review: The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

  1. Pingback: Impac Dublin Literary Award 2015 | Pleasure of Reading

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