“The Goldfinch” by Donna Tartt

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

The Goldfinch is a new novel by Donna Tartt, her first since The Little Friend published in 2002, and only the third since her debut novel, The Secret History in 1992. It has had the literary world in quite a spin since the announcement of its impending release last year; one has seen the phrases - “long awaited” and "eagerly anticipated” - frequently and unashamedly - in recent months with reference to DT’s latest work. And I must say, that in this case, it is a book that has been well worth the waiting. Expect The Goldfinch to win literary prizes over the course of 2014 because it really is a magnificent achievement; of a scope and depth to which we are rarely exposed in 21st century contemporary fiction.

Like her two previous novels, this one opens with a bombshell. A bombshell indeed, which is so profoundly unsettling, it immediately puts you down into the confusing and tragic world of protagonist Theo Decker at the age of twelve years old. And from there we go into the life which is shaped and informed by this event.

One of the main reading pleasures is that the book is so fresh and unpredictable; I am very unwilling to spoil the reading experience of The Goldfinch with any kind of intimation of the plot. Don’t, what ever you do, read any sleeve notes.

Of course the Donna Tartt attractions which we’ve come to know and admire are on display: The razor sharp plain English that cuts; the hope and love; the driving morality; the wry dark humour - the darkness at the heart of things. The beauty - the intimacy - the secrets.

Comparisons with the double Ds, that is Great Expectations by Dickens and Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment are apt. But I shall leave it there. In a few months I would welcome the chance to carry the discussion further on the subject of this novel.

Read well & feed your imagination.

SLB, 2014.01.29, London

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