1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.
  2. Hi Guest, welcome to the TES Community!

    Connect with like-minded education professionals and have your say on the issues that matter to you.

    Don't forget to look at the how to guide.

    Dismiss Notice

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

Discussion in 'Book club' started by Chris4, Feb 24, 2014.

  1. Chris4

    Chris4 New commenter

    I don't know if someone might have had a thread on here already about this book, but I can't find it. I am just longing to discuss this book with someone as I've just adored reading it. Actually, the first time I read it, I just read it mainly for the plot, so as soon as I finished I just started it again, enjoying the writing and the characters far more. The second reading was by far the best, I thought, and I still love it and will probably read it a third time over the summer.

    I loved the way you just don't know where it is going next with its massive shifts in setting and the change of the characters over time. I loved the kindness of her portrayal of everyone - no one is really bad, just doing the best they can in the circumstances they have. I especially loved the ending, the discussion of paintings and what they mean to us, the direct connection. I have given this book as presents to two of my friends to read so that we can talk about it, but they just aren't reading it quickly enough!

    I won't go on any more for the moment - but please, has anyone else read it and felt the same?
  2. TheoGriff

    TheoGriff Star commenter

    No, I haven't read it, but I've got it and it's in my pile to read!

    Best wishes


    Meet Theo on line on the TES JobSeekers Forum, or in person at one of the TES Careers Advice Service seminars or individual consultations.
  3. minnie me

    minnie me Star commenter

    I mentioned it on the ' what are you reading thread ? ' . (The Secret History is one of the best books I have ever read too )
  4. TheoGriff

    TheoGriff Star commenter

    Yes, I know, Minnie - that's why it's in my pile!

    Best wishes


    Meet Theo on line on the TES JobSeekers Forum, or in person at one of the TES Careers Advice Service seminars or individual consultations.
  5. TheoGriff

    TheoGriff Star commenter

    I'm absolutely hooked. I think I'll leave the ironing/cooking/cleaning/writing my contracted replies on JobSeekers and go and have another read.


    Best wishes


    Meet Theo on line on the TES JobSeekers Forum, or in person at one of the TES Careers Advice Service seminars or individual consultations.
  6. Chris4

    Chris4 New commenter

    That's the spirit, TheoGriff - stop everything today and read the book so we can discuss it! You might find you have to bear with it at times (I found the druggy parts a bit tedious in places if I'm honest, but that's always my reaction with druggy descriptions, drunks and drinking, or people's dreams or nightmares in books - I never feel they add much!) but it repays you in the rest.

    Minnie me, I'm so pleased you also love Secret History. It's a long book but I felt bereft when I finished it, I just wanted it to go on much more. Same with The Goldfinch - just upset when I got to the end and wanted more. I can see why she takes so long to write a book though, as every sentence is so well crafted, but in a subtle way, not a showing off 'look at me and my clever words' way.

    Thanks for the replies guys!
  7. TheoGriff

    TheoGriff Star commenter

    So far, 1/3 way through, it seems to me like a picaresque novel, one of those romans a tiroirs, where you have a protagonist who has a series of unrelated adventures, often with different supporting characters and in a different context, with only the most casual of links between them.

    SPOILER warning : Stop reading now if you haven't finished the novel!

    We have had the hotel in Netherlands, the apartment with mother and the museum, the posh apartment with 8 servants, the half-empty (and apparently totally empty of food) house in Las Vegas.

    Will there be something to draw all these threads together, apart from the presence of the protagonist?

    Another question: he was 14, 14 years ago, and someone lends him an iPhone. Did they really exist 14 years ago?

    Am still hooked, though!

    Best wishes


    Meet Theo on line on the TES JobSeekers Forum, or in person at one of the TES Careers Advice Service seminars or individual consultations.
  8. Chris4

    Chris4 New commenter

    Yes, the iphone struck an odd note with me at first, but I decided to go with the idea that that was in the present, then the novel moves forward in time maybe? To cover the fact that the explosion in the museum isn't actually a factual event, but could be. That makes no difference to the narrative at all, but it was the only way it made sense for me. It didn't have to be an iphone, it could have been any phone, so it was specific for a reason (I'm not going to consider product placement as a possibility!)

    I like the 'roman a tiroir' idea - there is the presence of the protagonist and something else, of course...but I'll leave that discussion until you have finished!
  9. Chris4

    Chris4 New commenter

    By coincidence, the painting The Goldfinch is on page 25 of the The Guardian today in a piece about paintings being returned to The Mauritshuis museum following its renovation.
  10. I loved it :)
  11. Chris4

    Chris4 New commenter

    Oh thank goodness - someone else has read it! Tell me what you thought - who was your favourite character? I loved Hobie and found it so refreshing somehow to have a totally good person described in a book, who was also really fascinating. Tartt could have done so many obvious things with Hobie, (he could add to the people who let the narrator down, he could die, kick him out...) but didn't so he was just perfect I thought. I loved Boris for all his faults as he did the right thing in the end. I especially loved the idea of the painting running through the book - it didn't need to be there, it could just be an idea, a comfort. I also liked the musings on why old things are so good to be around as it expressed something I have always felt and I liked the ideas on why Art is important, and why what you like is your emotional reaction, the 'kick to the heart' I think she calls it, the instant connection. I'm so glad you loved it too, Thompson24. I suppose this is why I really should join a book group so I could discuss books, but I don't think I could bear to discuss this with someone who didn't like it. I might be violent.
  12. Haha! love your last comment!

    My sister is stuggling to read it at the moment and she was the one who sent it to me!

    I think for me, it was the idea that this quite damaged person held on to this precious item for dear life but it was like a noose around his neck...

    Aww Hobie is a wonderful character isn't he and I got really cross with the way the narrator treated him in the end - biting the hand that feeds kind of... and the unrequited love story (aww!)

    Art and antiques - long lasting

    Relationships withhumans - short lived

    That was the kind of gist I got from it!

    I would love to join a book club but I only ever get to read stuff on hols grr - if I get into a book then that's it - nothing else gets done oops!
  13. Chris4

    Chris4 New commenter

    Yes, with book clubs I fear I would only like it if I agreed with everyone, or rather everyone would have to agree with me. I would worry about the whole idea of having to read a book by a deadline, ie, the next book club meeting. If I don't like a book, I don't read it after the first few chapters, I wouldn't want to feel I had to keep reading if I didn't want to as that is just too much like hard work. I manage to read every evening before I go to sleep - I have to severely limit myself to holidays otherwise (sometimes weekends) or as you say, nothing gets done.

    I felt I got so much from The Goldfinch on the second reading, I might go for a third reading this summer, when I have enough time to do that. A friend of mine who finally finished the book recently and also loved it, found the druggy Las Vegas part tedious, and we debated why Tartt puts that in at such length. In the end we decided that it was only realistic that someone in that situation would try drugs, it was necessary for the plot (because otherwise he would have kept in touch with Hobie or the Barbours and let them know he needed help) and it was also important that he had such a strong bond with Boris because of what happens later. Although the book appears to ramble at times, you can't take anything out without affecting the whole.

    I know what you mean about the way Hobie gets treated, the flawed narrator is just such an interesting idea for a novel - most novelists just want their narrator to be the hero. This is much more interesting I think.

Share This Page