On the worst day of Theodore Decker’s life, his mother takes the day off work to meet with school officials about his behaviour. On their way to the interview they duck into the Metropolitan Museum of Art to kill some time. When the Museum is bombed in a terrorist attack, Theo escapes the wreckage carrying a small priceless painting called The Goldfinch. In the ensuing years, Theo turns to addiction and fraud as he struggles to cope with his bereavement and overcome his guilt.
What the Armchair Critics Thought:
Tartt is an incredible writer and the scenes in the Museum and descriptions of the desolate Las Vegas suburbs are standout examples of a writer at the top of her game. We did think the book was in need of stronger editing because it dragged in many places and could been shortened by 200 pages without significant loss to plot or atmosphere. The theme of secrecy was well done. Theo was not quite as clever as he thought at hiding either the painting, his drug use or his antique scam. We enjoyed Hobie – who was quite Dickensian but most of the other characters including Theo were difficult to spend time with – especially nearly 800 pages worth of time. The last chapter of the book was particularly baffling, with its long description of the meaning of art which broke the narrative and left the novel without resolution.