The Goldfinch was on my to-read list for a long time, but I never picked up the book when I came across it because the cover didn’t do anything to entice me and the sheer bulk of it was daunting.
However, I was in Spangler Book Exchange last month and the bookseller recommended the book and went on to say that it was the novel by which he decided whether or not he would like someone—based upon their opinion of it, I could only assume. I knew it had to be pretty special. Yet, still, it wasn’t among my purchases.
I kept thinking about it, though, and finally went and checked out the book on audio disc from the library. Twenty-six discs! I chose the audiobook because, although I read a lot, I’ve never been a strong reader, or a patient one. I love books and I love story, but the actual act of reading always seems like time stolen from productive activities. I tackled Gone with the Wind on audio disc because I wasn’t sure I wanted to read it and because of its length. It would have remained on my to-read list forever. But because I can listen while I’m commuting, it doesn’t matter how long a book is, because it’s entertaining me while I’m doing something else. It isn’t wasted time, in other words. I loved GWTW, BTW.
I won't get into a synopsis of The Goldfinch, mainly because it would be difficult to do so without providing spoilers. I accidently spoiled it for myself (twice!) by reading reviews as I was in the process of “reading” it.
I’d rather tell you why this book should be read: It’s 771 pages of delightful descriptions, fully fleshed-out characters, carefully foreshadowed—and yet still surprising—plot twists, a query into love, loss, fear, friendship, and the meaning of life, wrapped up by a satisfying ending that left me feeling as though I was better by having “read” it.
To be honest, though, I may not have loved this book if I had been reading it, and I may even have abandoned it. There were places where it dragged and there was a place in which I felt disillusioned with the protagonist. Yet David Pittu so deliciously performed the audiobook, that despite its minor shortcoming and ridiculous length, I wanted it to never end. I couldn’t wait to drive somewhere, so I could hear what happened next.
The biggest problem I had with this novel is that it was so masterfully written that I feel my own writing will never in a million years measure up and that I should just quit right now. I won’t though because the goal is to produce a masterwork like The Goldfinch—the painting and the novel—that will outlive the artist and endure throughout the ages to speak to future generations. That is the message, which I have always known, but which was confirmed by the hard-fought wisdom of Theo Decker.