** The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

The critics loved  The Goldfinch. I did not, although I liked many parts of it, starting with the beautiful portrait of the hero as a lost thirteen-year old whose mother has been killed in a violent attack  and who finds himself quite alone, bereft, and only stiffly embraced by his not-so-close friend’s rich and troubled family. I also found some of the secondary characters well sketched, in particular the aging art dealer who takes him in later on. But much of the rest of the story simply does not come together. How can a loving mother not have a will to provide for her son’s guardianship even as she has made complex arrangements to protect a not-large college saving account? And, to be picky, how can a boy have an iPod but no computer? The travelogue to Las Vegas and, eventually, to Amsterdam also seems forced and the tempo of the bizarre gangster-strewn ending is sluggish. It’s a lot of work to read 700 pages for the few that are touching.


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