• The Goldfinch

  • By: Donna Tartt
  • Narrated by: David Pittu
  • Length: 32 hrs and 24 mins
  • 4.3 out of 5 stars (40,265 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Audie Award Winner, Solo Narration - Male, 2014

Audie Award Winner, Literary Fiction, 2014

The author of the classic best-sellers The Secret History and The Little Friend returns with a brilliant, highly anticipated new novel.

Composed with the skills of a master, The Goldfinch is a haunted odyssey through present-day America and a drama of enthralling force and acuity.

It begins with a boy. Theo Decker, a 13-year-old New Yorker, miraculously survives an accident that kills his mother. Abandoned by his father, Theo is taken in by the family of a wealthy friend. Bewildered by his strange new home on Park Avenue, disturbed by schoolmates who don't know how to talk to him, and tormented above all by his unbearable longing for his mother, he clings to one thing that reminds him of her: a small, mysteriously captivating painting that ultimately draws Theo into the underworld of art.

As an adult, Theo moves silkily between the drawing rooms of the rich and the dusty labyrinth of an antiques store where he works. He is alienated and in love - and at the center of a narrowing, ever-more-dangerous circle.

The Goldfinch is a novel of shocking narrative energy and power. It combines unforgettably vivid characters, mesmerizing language, and breathtaking suspense, while plumbing with a philosopher's calm the deepest mysteries of love, identity, and art. It is a beautiful, stay-up-all-night and tell-all-your-friends triumph, an old-fashioned story of loss and obsession, survival and self-invention, and the ruthless machinations of fate.

©2013 Donna Tartt (P)2013 Hachette Audio

Critic Reviews

Narrator David Pittu accepts the task of turning this immense volume into an excellent listening experience. Pittu portrays 13-year-old orphan Theo Decker with compassion, portraying his growing maturity in this story of grief and suspense…Pittu adds pathos to his depiction of the troubled Theo as he deals with addiction and finds himself in a dance with gangsters and the art world's darker dealers. ( AudioFile)
"Dazzling....[A] glorious, Dickensian novel, a novel that pulls together all Ms. Tartt's remarkable storytelling talents into a rapturous, symphonic whole and reminds the reader of the immersive, stay-up-all-night pleasures of reading." ( New York Times)
"A long-awaited, elegant meditation on love, memory, and the haunting power of art....Eloquent and assured, with memorable characters....A standout-and well-worth the wait." ( Kirkus, Starred Review)

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What listeners say about The Goldfinch

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  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Boy, am I in the minority on this one.

I wanted very much to love this book. I loved Secret History. I'm almost 3/4 of the way through The Goldfinch, trying to hang in there, switching it off in irritation . . . thinking "this is getting such positive reviews; maybe it ends up somewhere better than this," switching it back on . . . and now I'm giving up. It has a great story idea. The opening, particularly once we get to the museum, is very well done. Most of the rest of the book I found incredible repetitive and overwritten. Often the writing is just not good. The author uses seven descriptive terms rather than choosing the best. The protagonist often walks around dazed, confused, blasted out of his mind, stoned out of his mind, and did I mention dazed and confused? It beggars belief that someone this drug- and alcohol-addicted could make it to the age of 27 or 30 able to function in his job and without the people around him noticing. I wanted to send him to rehab. People ask him questions and he repeatedly answers "huh?" "what?" "but –" There is some good in the book, certainly. Boris is a great character and David Pittu does such a good job with him that he keeps talking in my head. Overall I feel David Pittu tries too hard to inflect every single word, and it's exhausting. Let the words speak for themselves. I feel the book is at least half again as long as it should have been. How many detailed and exhaustive scenes of teenage boys getting blasted, stoned and drunk do we need to convey this part of the narrator's life? It just goes on and on. Like my review. So I'll sign off now.

1,266 people found this helpful

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One ruinous moment

I was bedazzled and enchanted by this novel, and I enjoyed the fairly low-key narration of the audiobook. I have no need to repeat what knowledgeable reviewers have said regarding the quality and impact of The Goldfinch. I do have a personal comment on just one thing, and it has to do with the production, not the book itself: After immersing myself completely in the 32 hours of its reading, allowing the author's craft to lead me along, inch by inch, to the very moving conclusion, my savoring of the last words was shattered by the sudden intrusion of a ridiculous crescendo of music, as though, after all that brilliant writing, I needed help "feeling" the book. What an insult to the art of writing and the intelligence and sensitivity of the reader! I'm going to be wandering into a local bookstore soon just to read those last words to myself, in silence, free from the influence of any marketing expert's ill-conceived attempt to program my reactions to them. Audible, feel free to be frivolous with frivolous books, but please, let serious works of fiction stand on their merits; they need no heavy-handed assistance in performing their magic.

583 people found this helpful

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A stunning achievement - for author and narrator

No question, this will be on my "favorite books of the year" list - and very near the top. Tartt examines some very big topics - love, loss, death, life, forgiveness, redemption and addiction - and she does so with a skill that's secondary to none.

The main characters are BIG - in personality, flaws, strengths - and enormously engaging. I adored Theo, Boris and Hobie and have loved having them live at my house while I was listening. There's a sense of loss now that they're gone.

I've read some harsh reviews of the narrator and I don't understand that. I thought he was perfect for this book. It was a fresh take. His interpretation of both Boris and Hobie was delightful. I never would have imagined those voices if I'd read this in print. It was an added dimension that made it all the more enjoyable.

With more than 30 hours of engaging story, this is one of the most credit-worthy books around. Really, what could be better? It's a good long listen that's beautifully read. I wish they were always this good.

321 people found this helpful

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Stellar narration but depressing story

Wow, I got through this lengthy, drug and alcohol fueled story by wanting to find out what happens. Not glad I did. It got maudlin and depressing with long descriptions of drug-fueled dreams/trips. The narrator was so wonderful though. The accents were great and each character had a distinct voice. I will look for more books read by him. The book starts out with a literal bang and is very exciting at first, but quickly goes downhill where we meet more and more damaged people and sad things keep happening.

247 people found this helpful

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A Not So Secret History

Any additional comments?

The good news:
∙Easy to read, interesting, and thought-provoking.
∙Lots of words for the money, and for the most part, it doesn't drag or seem like filler.
∙Called Dickensonian by many (e.g. Stephen King), the book has many of the elements of other accomplished author's works. Obvious ones are "On the Road", "The Catcher in the Rye", "The Painted Bird", "The Great Gatsby", "The Mystic Arts of Erasing All Signs of Death", "Dark Places", "Snobs", and "The Kite Runner". Most of the Dicken's comparisons mention "Oliver Twist" or "David Copperfield", but I found that it borrows the most from "Great Expectations" if plot is excluded. It's probably pointless to make comparisons to Tartt's classmate, Bret Easton Ellis, but you can't read "Lunar Park" and escape the kinship.
∙It has a lot of what made "The Secret History" great.
∙The setup is as compelling as any book in recent memory.
∙One of the main character's friends is as developed and memorable as any character in popular fiction.

The bad news:
∙The first couple chapters are tedious. I was relieved when the book finally took off. You'd think the editor didn't get a say.
∙The painting serves somewhat as a MacGuffin, reducing its impact as a near-character in the novel.
∙The 2nd quarter of the book goes on an indulgent interlude. The book is the length of 4 standard novels, so this section could easily have been tightened up with no harm done.
∙Toward the end, the novel's themes are reiterated in narrative exposition as if the author doesn't trust the reader to understand them from the story itself.
∙At least one important character is very static and woefully underdeveloped.
∙It may be personal preference, but I tend to dislike characters that repeatedly behave immorally or amorally, but constantly fret about it. Fine if the character grows over time (or devolves), but frankly, who likes a shit that constantly feels bad that he's such a shit. There's Byronic and there's embryonic. I imagine Tartt might say, "But some people are actually like that". Yes, but perhaps that makes them more bland than a hero or an anti-hero.

Other thoughts:
Some movie comparisons might be "Closer", "Good Will Hunting", and "Ordinary People" with a little "True Romance" thrown in for feathers.

194 people found this helpful

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Survival story of a non-heroic hero

As an artist and museum professional, I have spent my career encouraging people to view things left behind as more than just "stuff" to be trashed or relegated to flea markets. The objects, beautiful or utilitarian, can reveal much about the lives and vales of the people who created, used, or saved them. They have stories to tell to those who will listen. 

Such treasured things don't merely "decorate" this book, rather they inhabit it, anchoring  wounded characters to the world as they weather unthinkable loss. In the hands of the author, works of artists and craftsman come to embody memories of the past and hopes for a tolerable  future. 

Don't worry! This is not a book about dusty furniture and paintings! It is a story about survival, but not the heroic survival of nonfiction tales (a genre I love, by the way). This is a case of fiction being "truer" than nonfiction. Only heroic tales earn nonfiction book contracts! It takes a novelist to plumb the depths of what nonheroic Theo (mixed-up but not evil) does when confronted with tragic misfortune. 

The story is told in first-person and the narrator did an excellent job as Theo, while distinctly voicing other characters to indicate dialog. 

In my personal life at the moment, I'm adjusting to the loss of my own mother (very different circumstances, of course) and the things she left behind, much of which is imbued with meaning and memory for me. So many acquaintances (my friends know better!) counsel, "It's just stuff -- get rid of it!"  Not to me. Those things are tangible connections to the people I've loved and lost.

So if you are a collector who others suspect of being One of Those Hoarders, you'll find justification in this book and possibly better understanding of why inanimate objects mean more to you than to others. 

You don't have to be a collector to enjoy this The Goldfinch, but you should enjoy long, thoughtful books. Even action sequences, filtered through the Theo's thoughts, take much longer than they  would in a thriller, but I was never tempted to fast-forward. On the contrary, I regret reaching the end and wish I could follow Theo further along his journey to see how he fares. 

170 people found this helpful

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Get To The Point!!!

I liked the narrator very much. I simply could not get through this audiobook, however. After listening to the first chapter which took an eternity to go nowhere, I turned it off when the narrator said "chapter 2" and realized there were still over 30 hours remaining. Donna Tartt is an excellent writer, but can take over twenty minutes to make a statement or observation that can be made in one with the same impact. This particular over-detail of minutia is the same reason I stopped reading Anne Rice novels. This was just not for me.

166 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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What a slog

I slogged through the whole book hoping that I would begin to appreciate the story but I'm afraid I never did. Donna Tartt just doesn't trust her readers. She writes down to them - repeating the same themes over and over, just in case we didn't get it the first, second, or third time. Had she let her story speak for itself, instead of insisting on telling us what we were suppose to take away from it, I believe this would have been a much better book.

162 people found this helpful

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Tried twice couldn't make it through

What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

There is no doubt this is an interesting story idea but it is a slog to get through. Scenes are painfully long and tedious. The book would benefit from some editing. Maybe half as long would have been more than enough.

My second attempt was in a 14 hour care ride with my wife. Nothing else to do but listen to the book. We made it about 4 hours before we gave up

Would you ever listen to anything by Donna Tartt again?

I would only give Donna Tart another try if the reviews were by people who didn't like this book and could explain why the other book was different. Her writing is terrific but the pacing is glacial.

160 people found this helpful

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overrated

Listening to this was like hearing every frame of a long movie, in excruciating detail described along with totally irrelevant conversations. The conversations of a group of travelers in front of him getting off the plane, the menu in a coffee house, the details of an airline ticket. And on top of it the narratormakes every five words into a melodramatic, mystery thriller cadence for 32 hours. And his voice for every female character made me cringe. The basic story was interesting, but could have been written in two thirds the words.It was as though every scene was described in two or three ways because the writer couldn't choose which one to use.
Aside from that, I found the character unsympathetic, though I really wanted to care for him, given the hard luck he had.
I really struggled to finish this.

134 people found this helpful

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