I’m not sure I agree with Julie Walters when she said in an interview in the Radio Times, ‘I was slightly disappointed by The Goldfinch, if I’m honest, I thought the editor should have got in there a bit more. I mean, please, 200 pages could’ve easily come out.’
Yes, perhaps it could have been edited a little more severely. Its sheer length and the depth of dense detail took a lot of reading and I got impatient with certain over-long passages, for example the drug taking scenes in Las Vegas.
But the initial explosion scenes grabbed me and didn’t let me go. I was really involved with the all the complex characters in the books such as Boris, Hobie, both of Theo’s parents, the Barbour family, but especially the damaged central character of Theo. I worried about his addiction and felt tense until he escaped back to Hobie’s in New York and then sad at his continuing dependence.
I loved all the antique furniture details, the appreciation of paintings, the author’s amazingly atmospheric depiction of place (e g New York, Las Vegas and even Hobie’s work shop.)
But I’m a bit daunted by trying to decipher all the multi-layered meanings of the painting
of the Goldfinch itself. Perhaps the actual painting is one of Theo’s ‘addictions’ and he is chained to this painting by the association with his mother, much as the Goldfinch was chained to the perch by the artist. Perhaps we too, like the bird, are ‘watchful yet resigned’ in our circumscribed existence. And like the crude daubs of paint on the painting that are meaningless close to, we only get the big picture of life when we stand back from it.
As I say so many meanings and so much sheer life in this rich tour de force of a book, you have to experience it for yourself and see if you agree with Julie or me. .