Sorry, I haven’t posted anything in a while but I wanted to take some time to catch up on my reading before I reviewed another book. I bought Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch last year and this is the first opportunity I have had to actually read the whole thing. It is a longer book but it is still worth it. Since reading The Secret History, I have been looking forward to reading more of Tartt’s novels. Now, I will review The Goldfinch for you.
When Theo Decker was thirteen years old, he survives an explosion in an art museum that unfortunately takes his beloved mother from him. He finds himself uprooted with only a small painting he recovered from the wreckage and the last words of a dying old man that lead him to his new mentor. In his adult life, Theo spends his life with antiques and is captivated by the same painting that eventually leads him to a dangerous circle.
Tartt’s ability to blend the modern world with the beauty of Dutch art makes this novel an elegant but relatable read. Her descriptions and characterizations are poetic. The characters feel as though they could walk off the page. Tartt doesn’t hold back in her exploration of human emotions as she connects Theo’s story with the stories of the Dutch artists. You don’t have to be an art expert to enjoy this book. The Goldfinch is a tragedy, romance, and mystery all wrapped up in the clean bow of Tartt’s eloquence and honesty.
Note: This is all simply my opinion but I hope you find it helpful nonetheless. I am avoiding spoilers, as well.
The Secret History was the first novel by Donna Tartt I had read. I decided to pick it up again after finally finishing a rather generic but well written crime novel. (I had gotten that book for free so I couldn’t complain too much.) The Secret History, which was Tartt’s first novel, is elegant, cynical, dark, and gripping, It is told through the eyes of Richard Papen, who is reflecting on his years at Hampden College in New England (Connecticut, to be specific.) Richard moved from a boring life in California to start over at Hampden. While he is there, he is drawn to a private and elite professor who teaches a small group of secretive students about the intricacies of Greek and Latin. Richard soon finds himself in over his head in a world of murder, drugs, sex, ancient Greek rituals, and the private lives of upper class.
This novel is particularly unique in its writing style. Tartt, in Richard’s voice, describes rather mundane college happenings in a way that is Shakespearian. Richard, who is simply trying to reinvent himself, is relatable for anyone who has ever wished to get away from their hometown. Also, like other college students, he learns that looks are deceiving. While his experiences are a little more extreme than the average college students’, it is still easy to understand what he is going through. Tartt does an excellent job crafting characters who are complex, dangerous, and painfully human. Hubris is the word that comes to mind when describing the downfalls of the cast of characters in this novel. Anyone familiar with Greek tragedies can recognize the trademarks that Tartt weaves into her novel.
You don’t have to necessarily be interested in Homer or know Latin to enjoy this novel. While these drew me into the novel in the first place, anyone who is interested in dramas or thrillers will definitely enjoy Tartt’s novel. I highly recommend this book for those seeking an intelligent and well-crafted novel that keeps you wanting more. It’s combination of realism and drama is compelling and hard to stop reading. The Secret History is an engaging novel with a depth and eloquence that few can capture.
(Also for more images of Greek statues in modern clothing, check out this link: )