Date finished: January 14, 2019
The Nightingale, Donna Tartt
This book blew me away. It has pretty much everything a reader could want in a book, from beautiful prose and romance to adventure and murder. I’m learning that entire-life-spanning tales are my cup of tea (thank you Donna Tartt, Kristin Hannah, and Lauren Groff), and The Goldfinch is exemplary in that regard.
Theo, while being kind of a Bad Guy, is so well-characterized and portrayed that you can’t help but feel for him. He’s a thief, an addict, a liar, and occasionally a real jerk, but Tartt illustrates with vivid detail and heartrending prose his all-consuming love for beautiful things all the while:
“As much as I’d like to believe there’s a truth beyond illusion, I’ve come to believe that there’s no truth beyond illusion. Because, between ‘reality’ on the one hand, and the point where the mind strikes reality, there’s a middle zone, a rainbow edge where beauty comes into being, where two very different surfaces mingle and blur to provide what life does not: and this is the space where all art exists, and all magic. And—I would argue as well—all love.”
While this is perhaps a high-minded example, it exemplifies the extent of Tartt’s use of metaphor and deep, philosophical ideas to convey Theo’s inner ache for and about loss, life, and love.
A simpler favorite passage:
“She was busy with the dog, mustard-yellow sweater and hair like an autumn leaf, and her colors were mixed up and confused with the bright colors of the kitchen: striped apples glowing in a yellow bowl, the sharp ding of silver glinting from the coffee can where Hobie kept his paintbrushes.”
The Goldfinch is an unforgettable story, but Tartt’s prose and expertly communicated images and ideas make this one. I’ll be picking up more of her work immediately.
Four stars because, although I love this story desperately, I would love it more if it didn’t center around a bunch of super privileged white men.