The Goldfinch

by Donna Tartt | Literature & Fiction |
ISBN: 0349139636 Global Overview for this book
Registered by erinacea of Friedrichshain, Berlin Germany on 10/10/2017
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1 journaler for this copy...
Journal Entry 1 by erinacea from Friedrichshain, Berlin Germany on Tuesday, October 10, 2017
I got this book for Christmas last year but didn't get around to start it until some time in April (most likely near the end of April when I got sick). Then it took me until the beginning of October (when I was sick again) to finish the book because a) the book is huge and b) it's heavy, which means I can't take it on public transport or holiday and most reading positions are uncomfortable. That, and I took a lot of breaks.

All in all my reaction is mixed and I really don't understand all these raving comments in the jacket. Yes, the beginning was suspenseful and a real page-turner. I loved how we got to know Theo and his mother and all these little details, and how then everything falls to pieces. The aftermath of the explosion felt so real, I didn't want to put down the book but had to know how Theo would cope with the loss of his mother. I mean it was hard to read about his grief and his environment being sort of unable to reach him but also engagingly written. I really felt for the boy. Meeting the Balbours and Hogie and everything... that was fascinating, and there were still so many pages to the book. It had barely started, really.

And yet somehow about the time (mild spoiler, highlight to make visible) Theo moved to his father I slowly started to lose interest. Boris is clearly what you'd call a "bad influence" and I never really liked him, although I can sort of understand how Theo built a connection to him. I also didn't like Theo's dad or Chandra (?) or all those scenes describing the boys' drug abuse, so the excruciatingly detailed prose I had loved in the beginning now focused on things I just didn't care about at all.

Then there's this sudden time skip of a couple of years (my reaction: "wait, what!?") and now Theo's a hardcore drug addict involved in shady business deals and about to get married to a girl he doesn't love and I sort of felt lost. It was still about the painting, but not really, and I started wondering what was the point of the whole story. I mean I kept reading, occasionally, once every two months, but it felt more and more like a slog to me.

It didn't help that the language was difficult. I like to think that as a second language my grasp of English is way above average but I had to keep looking up words (not that many, about one every couple of pages, but still...) I'd not only never seen before but that a) I'll probably never need again and b) weren't even in my dictionary. The last time I had this much trouble with the vocabulary of a book was when I read Lord of the Rings 15 years ago.

I was disappointed in the ending. The writing got more interesting by the time he reached Amsterdam but, like Theo, I had no idea what was going on.

Spoiler Why didn't Boris tell him anything? I kept thinking until the very end that Boris was going to double-cross him, and even when by the end it's clear that he didn't, I don't understand why Boris neglected to coach him on obvious details like his fake name or locking his passport in the hotel safe.

Theo's fevered state only heightened by the worry of his impending arrest was interestingly described but it just kept going on for so long that my interest started drooping again. After all this build-up I felt cheated by the surprisingly neat resolution. Of course it was a relief, but I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop:
More spoilers Why did Boris conveniently arrive exactly when he did? Did he really return the painting? Legally? The ledger sounds so obviously faked that I'd be surprised if people didn't investigate further. Maybe they were just glad to have these priceless pieces of art back? What was the point of having Theo shoot a man and understandably worry about it endlessly when nothing comes of it in the end?

When that failed to happen, it made the end feel cheap.

Admittedly, I didn't understand the epilogue. Clearly, Theo saw some reason in everything he'd gone through but I didn't: finally accepting that he was pursueing Pippa for the wrong reasons, sort of dropping his engagement to Kitsey except not really, travelling all over the world to buy back the fake furniture he'd sold as genuine, which he was only able to do because of the reward money for returning the picture

What, really? In the end it basically boils down to "it was all worth it"? No! I wasted hours of my life slogging through this 800-page brick of a book for this let-down of an ending?

The beginning was amazing: 8 stars, hands-down. Maybe all the other critics simply didn't finish the book?

Journal Entry 2 by erinacea at Mitte, Berlin Germany on Saturday, December 14, 2019

Released 1 yr ago (12/9/2019 UTC) at Mitte, Berlin Germany

CONTROLLED RELEASE NOTES:

Left on a table at my office as a free give away and presumably pocketed by one of my colleagues. Enjoy!

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erinacea

PS: While I enjoy writing these texts in English, there's no obligation for you to do the same. If you like, you could make an entry in German, or whatever your mothertongue may be.
(Einträge auf deutsch sind auch erlaubt. ;) )

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