On holiday I caught up with Donna Tartt’s latest, published with huge hype last year as only the third from Tartt in a near thirty-year career. We’ve discussed her work recently (see my article on the Brat Pack of US fiction) and unlike McInerney, Easton Ellis and Janowitz there is no sense that the best of her career is behind her. Like both the predecessors this is a doorstop (more later) and like The Secret History uses apparently recherche topics – in that case the study of Classics – in this case antique furniture restoration and art history – to power a thrillerish plot.
The set-up sees teen Theo Decker lose his mother as both are caught up in a terrorist bomb blast in a NY museum. Inexplicably he leaves the scene with a valuable painting, the titular Goldfinch, and the rest of the novel sees him attempting to come to terms with his loss and his place in the world – both of which are bound up in the painting. As Theo is bounced around various carers and guardians there are sections in Manhattan high society, in Las Vegas (with his errant dad), and finally in » Continue Reading.