If I were to write out the major plot points of The Goldfinch it may not seem as expansive a book as it is. Yet the journey feels huge—much larger than its 771 pages; yet, seemingly contradictory, the novel is a fast read. Every time the story shows signs of growing stagnant, it zooms off in another direction. On many levels, this is an engaging read. Many will find it unputdownable.
Donna Tartt is an amazing writer (so why am I only now hearing of her?) She has a masterful grasp on her story and understands the language she employs. Even considering it takes her ten years to write each novel, there is an exceptionally high level of understanding of craft in these pages. Her characters are engaging if not always believable. Her language is interesting and intelligent. And the plot... it slows only long enough for the reader to catch their breath.
The bulk of the book is plot-driven, and this was the only factor that kept me from being fully engaged. For readers of plot-centric novels, I can almost guarantee a thoroughly enjoyable read. And though the novel is heavy in plot, The Goldfinch, I believe, successfully stimulates the majority of readers of fiction in a way only great books can.
The final chapter was absolutely beautiful—worth reading again. For me, those final twelve pages were magical—a brilliant example of the author's may talents. Some may find it a bunch of philosophical gobbledygook which evades answering their most pressing questions—sure, it is that, but that's not to say that it also isn't breathtaking. That, along with those first fifty or so pages, was for me the highlight of the novel.
The Goldfinch has been the hype this year, and this eventually will drag down the overall consensus of the quality of the novel. All the glowing reviews and friendly recommendations will increase sales, put The Goldfinch under the Christmas tree for many avid readers, and surely not live up to the hype for some. Let me be among the first to say that The Goldfinch was not the most amazing book I've read in years. It didn't keep me up all night long or make me salivate with desire. It was a good book, written exceptionally well, but for me it wasn't orgasmic; readers of intelligent, plot-driven fiction, however, may wish to bring a towel along just in case.