I am ridiculously late to the party here, but I finally read The Goldfinch! It’s not just in Blogland, but at real life work the whole adult population of the school seemed to have read it last year too (as in teachers, teaching assistants, receptionists, guidance leaders).
Having said “adult population” I have passed it on to my daughter to read and wonder what she will make of its perspective. It’s a tricky voice that Donna Tartt has successfully pulled off, that of precocious adolescent thrown into turmoil that a boy of that age shouldn’t have to deal with. That’s a question that has worried me since my husband was alive – we both used to worry about what would happen if we both died, as we knew no adults who we thought able to raise the girls in a sympathetic manner. I never did solve that conundrum – a lovely couple of friends very kindly agreed to fill the role if anything had happened to me, but I am sure the girls would have found it difficult to adapt to the different environment, and they are a couple of years older and therefore more capable aware than Theo Decker at the beginning of the novel.
The novel made me reflect too on how compelling the child/adolescent voice section of a novel can be so much more compelling and memorable than the adult section when it is done well. I am thinking of Jane Eyre and of Great Expectations. Although The Goldfinch has been described as Dickensian in the vividness of its characterisation and description, I would venture (non-Dickens fan alert here) that The Goldfinch is much more tightly plotted than any of Dickens’s sprawling, serialised works.
The stand out feature for me was Tartt’s understanding of what it is that attracts us to other people, and how our needs are especially and sometimes indelibly imprinted upon us when we are at our most vulnerable. It’s a theme that I’m writing about at the moment, although what with having read this and The Bone Clocks, it also makes me think “B*** it, why not just pack it in now, since Tartt and Mitchell have already said everything there is to be said on the subject?”