Wednesday, June 17, 2015

The Goldfinch

The reading selection for my new book club was Donna Tartt's "The Goldfinch," a hefty 775 page book which I'd been reading for the month.  I had a little over 100 pages to go on Monday and read until I couldn't stay awake any more, so went to sleep.

When I woke up at 5, instead of going back to sleep I started reading again and finally finished the book (rushing through the last pages) by 7 a.m., which was just in the neck of time, since I had to leave for Char's house and the book club meeting around 11.

It's an odd book and what I said in my review of it was that I had a love-hate relationship with it, since it seemed almost like it was four different books and there were sections I hated and sections where the writing was so beautiful, I reveled in it, much as I do with Steinbeck or with Pat Conroy's "Prince of Tides."

The story is about a painting by Dutch artist Carel Fabritus, who painted it in 1654.  It hangs in the Mauritshuis museum in the Hague.  In the book, young Theo is visiting the Metropolitan Museum (in New York) for an exhibit of Dutch Masters when there is an explosion that kills his mother.  Theo survives and in escaping the museum, he takes with him the small painting (it is about the size of a piece of typing paper).  He's not sure why he takes it, but his mother loved the painting and it is his connection to her.

Interestingly, I discovered that while I knew this was the last painting Fabritus did, I didn't realize that he was killed in an explosion.  I'm sure this must have inspired the author when she started working out her plot for the book.

It's an odd painting for us since it shows a goldfinch chained to a post by a little chain around its leg.  Apparently keeping finches as pets like this was popular in the 1600s.  

It was so much fun having a group of people to discuss this book with, since everyone had such interesting things to add. It's a book about damaged people and how they cope with life.  Sadly, much of the coping has to do with drugs...massive amounts of drugs...and I did get tired of the drug taking, which dominates one section of the book and is very much a part of the rest of it.  Two people in the book group hated that so much they didn't finish the book.  But I'm glad I stuck with it to the end because there was a fairly satisfying resolution.

I think I'm going to enjoy this group since I love discussing books and it's nice to find a group of people who enjoy discussing them too.

Of course I'm kind of an interloper in the group, since it is run through the San Ramon public library and technically I'm supposed to be a resident of San Ramon to attend.  In fact, when the leader asked for my email address yesterday, I gave her my gmail account rather than my Davis account.  Char says she's going to let her know that I'm really not from San Ramon but doesn't think she will care, especially now that I've been there for two meetings.

On the ride home, I had my Harlan Coben book to listen to, which was good because there was bumper to bumper traffic for a good part of the trip and audio books always make times like that much more palatable!

I really don't know what people do without books.


Kwizgiver said...

I agree that a book group meeting would have been great for this book! I wish my group had selected it. And I said the same thing about sections of the book that I loved and didn't love as much. But overall, I would say it was one of the best books I read last year.

Indigo said...

I held off reading this book for a really long time because of how long it was, but once I got started, I really did enjoy it a lot. I have a love/hate relationship with the ending.

Unrelated, I'm about 80% done with the 2nd Outlander book and I can't wait for this book to be over. I'm really hoping there's a payoff at the end.