Donna Tartt’s book The Goldfinch, has over 4K reviews on Amazon, and the ratings are fairly well divided among each of the different ratings. Sadly, comments among the three-, two-, and one-star reviews tend to run along a common vein: the book just didn’t live up to the hype from the industry.
And truthfully, it takes a really special work of literature to maintain the drama and lure throughout well over 700 pages. The word I would actually use is “exhausting.” While Tartt crafted very compelling characters and a story line that gripped readers, the pivotal painting on which so much of the story relies actually disappears for hundreds of pages at a time, only to be casually mentioned later.
The real problem for me was the style of editing. To go so far (as some reviewers did) and say that the book was wholly unedited would be horrifically unfair, but there may have been too much liberty taken with the writing style, allowing a fragmented and disjointed style to run roughshod over what is a compelling story. The very eloquent passages, unfortunately, only serve to make it seem like the editing wasn’t completed by the same person throughout the manuscript.
Possibly the worst flaw was the utter lack of redemption, the void of any quality that makes up for the suffering. While not every book requires its happily ever after, some sort of light at the end of the tunnel would have been helpful.
The Goldfinch is available from major book retailers.