{Books} The Goldfinch

I'm sorry for the radio silence recently! I've been terribly busy with research and making plans for the future (more on that later), and in addition to that, last week a very dear friend came to visit, so I had a mini-vacation of sorts (more on that later too), plus next week I'm off on a research trip (aka a glorified vacation) to France, so I've been terribly neglectful of this little blog lately, but I wanted to pop by to check in, promise more things are on their way, and tell you about how much I loved the only book I've had time to read so far this year, The Goldfinch.
I do so much reading for work that at the end of the day, I often don't feel like picking up anything else to read, even if it is just for fun. Everyone had been eagerly anticipating the release of Donna Tartt's latest novel, and so I added it to my list, and I finally found a little time at the end of January to get started on it. It's a lengthy tome, but I devoured it. It's the type of book you just can't put down once you get started. The characters were so richly developed and the plots were so intriguing and the settings were described so vividly that I was completely enchanted. I usually read just before bed, and one night, I am only a little bit ashamed to admit that I stayed up long past my bedtime because I kept telling myself 'one more chapter, one more section' without end.
Many people have compared the book to a Dickensian novel, and there are definite parallels between The Goldfinch and, in particular, Great Expectations, although Tartt's novel is in no way a modern retelling of a Dickens novel so much as a modern setting on general themes common to much of Dickens' work: childhood loss, unrequited love, the unexpected twists and turns in life that shape our destinies. The main character and narrator, Theo, finds himself at New York City's Metropolitan Museum of Art with his mother by an accident of fate on the day a terrorist sets off a bomb at the museum in this ambiguously timeless parallel universe. Theo's mother dies, he has a strange interaction with a dying man who compels Theo to take a painting (the titular Goldfinch) from the gallery, and this single day completely alters the course of Theo's life. He first moves in with family friends on the Upper East Side, then moves out to Las Vegas with his estranged father, where Theo meets a young Russian who has come to town with his expat father. Theo's friendship with Boris, the most richly drawn relationship in the novel, again reshapes the course of Theo's life, unbeknownst until later by Theo. The second half of the novel revolves around the international search for The Goldfinch and grapples with Theo's emotional response to the impulsive action he took that day in the museum as a child. Theo finds a father figure later with the business partner of the old man he saw dying in the museum, and finds his Dickensian Stella (aptly named Pippa) in the old man's niece.
The book comes to a gorgeously introspective end (in the manner of The Great Gatsby) after over 800 pages of nonstop action and intrigue that I fear a little blog post cannot do justice to, so all I can say is, if you're only going to read one book this year (as I have so far, unfortunately), make it The Goldfinch, because the combination of coming-of-age story and crime novel in this book was pitch-perfect.
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