Let art speak to you. {The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt}


Let art speak to you.

About The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt*: It begins with a boy. Theo Decker, a thirteen-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 unbearable longing for his mother, he clings to 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 combines vivid characters, mesmerizing language, and suspense, while plumbing with a philosopher's calm the deepest mysteries of love, identity, and art. It is an old-fashioned story of loss and obsession, survival and self-invention, and the ruthless machinations of fate.

My two cents

Theo and his mother love living in New York. Thank goodness his good for nothing father is out of the picture. The humdrum life all changes in a flash. On this day, Theo and his mother take a side trip to the museum - a distraction from a parent teacher meeting that could only mean more trouble for Theo. This is a coming of age story that shows life's contradictory nature, bringing out the beautiful and darkest sides of people, set against the contrasts of the beauty and corruption of the art world.

Ever since I read The Secret History (my review), I knew that I was bound to pick up another book by Donna Tartt. And so it came to be.

***

Fresh from a trip from New York, I reveled in The Goldfinch because I had walked the halls of the Metropolitan Art Gallery, wandered the streets of the Upper East Side of Manhattan (and beyond) and took the subway many a time. This is Theo's world and it became tangible to me when I was reading it.

The Goldfinch is a book that I sorely needed to remind me why I read and why I love to blog about books: it's a story like this that reminds me that books contain life's truths. I've become absorbed in desire to book blog like a madwoman, I've done so many book tours, done all the bloggy and bookish memes. I've burnt out. I've returned. And now, I reiterate to myself: make peace with my book blogging lull and simply go for the ride.

Why I loved The Goldfinch

This forced me to slow down. This is a classic case of a book finding me when I needed it most. I needed to read it, and more importantly, to feel it. The first hundred pages or so begs for attention. Tartt's prose is incredibly immersive: you're there in the museum. You feel Theo's pain. You feel the angst, the hunger for sympathy and kindness. I dare you to want to be absorbed in this story.

It's highly relatable. I have very little in common with Theo. But I do have a lot in common with his foray of emotions and the mental state he is in through various incidents, often traumatic. I absorbed his tribulations, maybe a bit too much.

The painting "The Goldfinch"
From Wikipedia
The art, the art. I have a soft spot for anything involving art and the fact that this story delves into this world was a special treat.

The story revolves around the painting The Goldfinch (in Dutch: Het puttertje) by Carel Fabritius (1654). This piece seemingly begged to be saved by a dying man, and it called out to Theo as well. To me, the metaphor of art "speaking" to someone in a profound, sometimes even mystical way, is a testament to the power of art in general.

It polarizing. I love the fact that this book gets lovers and haters and thus makes for great discussion. If you love reading blogger's opinions, you'll get both swings of pendulum on this one. I was starting this and posted on Instagram. I got mixed reactions from "oh this is so good, you're going to love it" to "I couldn't get into it."

Don't read this ... If you're looking for action and a fast pace, put this down. If you hate chunksters, put this down. If you listen to other book bloggers negative reviews and are easily swayed, then don't read this.

Verdict

One of the most moving stories I've read in a very long time, this coming of age story set against the art world of New York forced me to slow down and immerse myself. My review is highly based on emotion, and I am not ashamed to say that sometimes some books hit me at a very raw level - similar to how art speaks to our souls. In short, The Goldfinch spoke to me. Will you allow it to speak to you?



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© guiltless readingMaira Gall