Donna Tartt

All posts tagged Donna Tartt

The Goldfinch – Donna Tartt

Published March 18, 2014 by bibliobeth

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What’s it all about?:

A young boy in New York City, Theo Decker, miraculously survives an accident that takes the life of his mother. Alone and determined to avoid being taken in by the city as an orphan, Theo scrambles between nights in friends’ apartments and on the city streets. He becomes entranced by the one thing that reminds him of his mother, a small, mysteriously captivating painting that soon draws Theo into the art underworld.

What did I think?:

The Goldfinch is the third novel from Donna Tartt, her previous offerings being The Secret History and The Little Friend both of which I enjoyed and this latest is her first novel in eleven years. I can only hope that she doesn’t keep us waiting that long for her next as I am becoming quite a fan! Our main character is a young boy called Theo Decker, whom when the story opens is having a few problems at school and is dreading his mother being called in for a “chat.” This never happens in the end because unfortunately, while perusing the art in a gallery, a bomb goes off, killing his mother and throwing his young life into chaos. Before the explosion, Theo and his mother had been looking at a painting of The Goldfinch by Carel Fabritius (which actually exists and was painted in 1654) and he is at once mesmerised by its simplicity yet extraordinary beauty. Then as Theo comes around post-explosion amongst a heap of rubble, he comes across a dying elderly victim of the bomb – Welton “Welty” Blackwell who begs Theo to deliver a family heirloom, a ring, to his business partner. Theo also misunderstands Welty’s last requests and takes the painting of The Goldfinch with him also as he finds a way out of the gallery. This has the effect of setting into motion a sequence of events that will influence Theo’s life in ways he could never have dreamed of. Wherever he goes whether it is to live with his hopelessly alcoholic and gambler father or to explore new avenues in a antiques business with Welty’s partner, the painting is taken and protected at all costs until it comes to a point where coming clean about the picture may cause more harm than it is worth.

Having read The Secret History fairly recently, I was aware of the beauty and spirit of Donna Tartt’s writing, but it was fully confirmed for me while reading this book that she must be some kind of genius. Other reviews have suggested that some parts were slightly unnecessary and the story could have been a lot shorter, but I prefer to make up my own mind and thinking about it, I wouldn’t want to cut anything out at all as I think it would take away something special that is important to the plot as a whole. I did warm to Theo as a character quite quickly, as thank God he wasn’t perfect – the author wrote a real human being, complete with flaws and the ability to make mistakes. Some of the other characters were really lovely as well, I especially liked (to dislike) Theo’s father and thought Theo’s friend Boris was brilliantly realised, and at times completely hilarious. As for the plot of the novel, I could go on for ages about what happens, to whom and in what order, but it would take me quite a while as there a lot of different strands and interesting developments as Theo grows up to be a man, that the author manages to keep track of and I wouldn’t want to spoil anything for those that haven’t read the novel and want to discover Theo’s story for themselves. At times it can also be a bit of an emotional journey which I didn’t find with The Secret History and was definitely a welcome surprise and quite rewarding in my opinion. I have the hardback edition and it was lovely to find your own miniature Goldfinch painting on the inside cover of this novel which seems more alluring the longer you look at it. Is this book for everybody though? Maybe not, but for me it is a wonderful piece of fiction that I think everyone should give a go, even if you’ve never read any of Tartt’s work previously or are a bit sceptical/put off by the size of the book.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

WWW Wednesday #32

Published February 26, 2014 by bibliobeth

WWW Wednesdays is hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading. Click on the image to get to her blog!

Welcome to another WWW Wednesday, and thanks as ever to MizB for hosting.

To join in you need to answer 3 questions..

•What are you currently reading?

•What did you recently finish reading?

•What do you think you’ll read next?

Click on the book covers to take you to a link to find out more!

What are you currently reading?:

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I’m ploughing through this beast of a book this week. I’m really enjoying it, but for some reason it’s taking me ages to read!

What did you recently finish reading?:

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I really loved this book which I did as an interview type review with my sister and fellow blogger Chrissi Reads. Check out what we both thought on either of our blogs!

What do you think you’ll read next?:

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Next up, I’m reading Through The Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll for the February Kid-Lit read which is a feature where I link up with Chrissi Reads. I’m also looking forward to reading this Icelandic murder mystery. It’s going to be part of a new feature which I’m doing on my blog and quite excited about.

What are you reading this Wednesday? Please leave your link and I’ll come pay you a visit! Happy Reading Everyone!

WWW Wednesday #31

Published February 19, 2014 by bibliobeth

WWW Wednesdays is hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading. Click on the image to get to her blog!

Welcome to another WWW Wednesday, and thanks as ever to MizB for hosting.

To join in you need to answer 3 questions..

•What are you currently reading?

•What did you recently finish reading?

•What do you think you’ll read next?

Click on the book covers to take you to a link to find out more!

What are you currently reading?:

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I got this book from NetGalley as I am a big fan of the Narnia series and it sounded intriguing. Unfortunately, it’s a bit dry at the moment but will see how it goes.

What did you recently finish reading?:

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This is the first book picked for the Richard and Judy Spring Reads 2014 and is one I’m reviewing with my sister and fellow blogger Chrissi Reads. This book was so beautiful and emotional and I give it the full five stars. Look out for our review coming soon!

What do you think you’ll read next?:

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I’ve had this book for a little while as I wanted to read The Secret History, Tartt’s first novel before I started out. But now it’s nearly time to read it and I can’t wait!

What are you reading this Wednesday? Please leave your link and I’ll come pay you a visit! Happy Reading Everyone!

The Secret History – Donna Tartt

Published February 3, 2014 by bibliobeth

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What’s it all about?:

Richard Papen arrived at Hampden College in New England and was quickly seduced by an elite group of five students, all Greek scholars, all worldly, self-assured, and, at first glance, all highly unapproachable. As Richard is drawn into their inner circle, he learns a terrifying secret that binds them to one another…a secret about an incident in the woods in the dead of night where an ancient rite was brought to brutal life…and led to a gruesome death. And that was just the beginning….

What did I think?:

I have come across Donna Tartt’s writing only once before in The Little Friend, although I read it a long time ago, and to be honest can’t remember much about it, so when I got The Goldfinch as a present and heard all the hype about how wonderful it was, I knew I had to read her debut novel, The Secret History. We are introduced to a teenager called Richard Papen, who is disillusioned with his life, has a somewhat difficult relationship with his parents, and is unsure what he wants to do with himself – until he comes across a brochure for Hampden College which seems to hold the answers he is looking for. On enrolling at the college, he becomes fascinated by an elite group of students that dissociate themselves from others, and study Greek under a mysterious and elusive Professor that is very selective about the students that he takes on. The group consists of a set of twins Camilla and Charles who are incredibly secretive and seem to spend all their time together, Francis who provides a country home that the group often uses as a refuge, Henry who is a literary genius but also quite calculating in his personality and the eccentric joker Bunny who provides the means for our narrator Richard, to enter the group by taking him under his wing.

As soon as the novel begins we are told that there has been a murder, and we are aware of the unfortunate victim. From there, Richard takes us back to when he joined the group, and it is only then when the dynamics of the differing personalities and the group as a whole is explored that we begin to understand the dangers that lurk between a group that shuts itself off so rigidly from “normal” society, and learn about the great passion (or obsession, in some cases) that they have with studying classical Greek.

Personally, I found this an absolutely fascinating and thrilling novel that moved along at a steady pace, and felt much shorter than it actually is. I understand from reading other reviews that some people have issues with the amount of time that the characters spend smoking, drinking, doing nothing etc and I can see the case for disliking the novel because of this, but I found the writing so beautiful that I was able to put aside those elements and just enjoy the story. No, I didn’t necessarily like the characters, but that does not mean I have to dislike the book. In fact, it was because I disliked some characters intensely that I kept reading, as I felt that made them slightly more INTERESTING. Anyway, I can’t wait to read The Goldfinch now to see if it lives up to the hype, and to compare it to this strange but fantastic piece of writing.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

WWW Wednesday #27

Published January 15, 2014 by bibliobeth

WWW Wednesdays is hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading. Click on the image to get to her blog!

Hello everyone, Happy WWW Wednesday! Thanks as ever to MizB at Should Be Reading for hosting.

To join in you need to answer 3 questions..

•What are you currently reading?

•What did you recently finish reading?

•What do you think you’ll read next?

Click on the book covers to take you to a link to find out more!

What are you currently reading?

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I started this book yesterday and so far am really enjoying it! I wasn’t sure at the start, but now I can’t put it down.

What did you recently finish reading?:

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This was a really interesting book about the time between the end of the First World War and the beginning of the Second World War. It was a bit dry in places, but on the whole I thought it was a decent read.

What do you think you’ll read next?:

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This is the second book in the Mara Dyer series that was recommended to me by my sister, the lovely Chrissi Reads. Can’t wait to get to it!

What are you reading this Wednesday? Please leave your link and I’ll come pay you a visit. Happy Reading everyone!