I read Tartt’s other two novels some time ago, and enjoyed them. This one took her seven years to write so I know I am not the only person to have been eagerly awaiting this one. It was released last year but is 770 pages long and I am very busy these days so it took me a while to get to it. So, I enjoyed her first novels, I had been waiting a long time to read it, my hopes were high, I was worried that I might be disappointed. I wasn’t.
This is kind of a coming-of-age story. It begins on Upper West Side Manhattan (where I lived when I first moved to the US), then goes over to Upper East Side Manhattan (where I lived next) then pops over to Las Vegas for a little while (where I currently live). I enjoyed Tartt’s portrayals of all the places. Something utterly, unthinkably terrible happens on the UES and Theo, our protagonist, loses his mother. He is practically an orphan from then on, but various adults assume varying levels of responsibility for him.
It is about family, and love, and the importance of parenting, whether or not it is a parent who does it. It is about friendships and relationships and the importance of the way we interact with people, even if it is just for a moment, and how those interactions might be extremely important to us, but we may not know until later on.
Theo works in antiques and art and the book is partly about that world, and the way art speaks to us. The characters discuss how people can love a piece of art because it strikes us and draws us in. I am sure you can think of a couple of pieces of art that spoke to you. Well, a particular painting, The Goldfinch, changes Theo’s life in a very unusual way. I was left wondering quite what would happen with it all the way through the book. That is the beauty of reading something like this, that does no fit neatly in to a genre, you cannot guess what is coming next because it does not follow any usual pattern. It was a long book but it kept me interested all the way through.