Good things are worth waiting for. It’s been 11 years since the publication of Donna Tartt’s second novel, The Little Friend, and 21 since her groundbreaking debut, The Secret History. Luckily for fans, the acclaimed author has finally returned with a third novel, The Goldfinch, and it may be her most extraordinary work yet. Coming in at slightly under 800 pages, this masterpiece may seem daunting, but once readers begin, they will be unable to put it down.
Tartt’s first two novels revolve around a defining loss, and the author—wisely—has returned to a subject she knows well. The Goldfinch opens as Theodore Decker, a 13-year-old New Yorker, has been suspended from school. Since his father has recently abandoned the family, Theo’s gorgeous, art-obsessed mother is left to deal with the ensuing parent-teacher conference. On the way there, a quick stop at the Met ends in tragedy—and with Theo in possession of a painting, Carel Fabritius’ “The Goldfinch.” The full details of Tartt’s intricate plot are best left for the reader to discover, but after that fateful day at the Met, Theo hops from the wealthy apartments of the Upper West Side to the wasteland of abandoned housing lots outside Las Vegas and back again, meeting an unforgettable cast of characters along the way.
There are simply not enough worthy adjectives to properly describe Tartt’s dazzling odyssey. With meticulous detail, she takes readers to the dark side of the art world, a place full of greedy gangsters and art aficionados. At the same time, she tells an intimate coming-of-age story of a boy who keeps secrets even as he pursues answers. Tartt is a master at tapping at the well of sorrow, leading readers to feel immense empathy for a character who is not always likable—a sign of true talent. The Goldfinch is a tour de force that will be among the best books of 2013.