1 July 2019 Susannah

The Goldfinch

Nicole Kidman, Boyd Gaines & Oakes Fegley in The Goldfinch, 2019,

A coming film I look forward to watching is The Goldfinch based on Donna Tartt’s 2014 Pulitzer Prize winning novel of the same name. It is to be directed by Irish film maker John Crowley, with Ansel Elgort as Theo and Aneurin Barnard as Boris. The novel stayed on the New York Times bestseller list for more than 30 weeks, but has remained a controversial prize winner. Some critics compared it to Dickens, while others said the novel was cliched, juvenile, and was damaging to the very future of reading. Did you read it? If so, what was your opinion? I enjoyed the book, partly because I love novels connected with great works of art, and I found story and characters intriguing.

The novel concerns the superb little painting ‘The Goldfinch’ by Carel Fabritius, painted in 1654. It is a treasured work in a gallery in The Hague. The artist died in the terrible explosion in Delft of 1654 which killed hundreds and destroyed a huge number of homes. To learn more you might read Vermeer: A View of Delft by Anthony Bailey, which explains the disaster and its impact on the artistic world.

Other novels connected with Dutch art include The Last Painting of Sara de Vos by Dominic Smith which was a good read, the delightful The Girl with the Pearl Earring by Tracey Chevalier, Susan Vreeland’s Girl in Hyacinth Blue (rather forgettable). Or you could try a lovely novel about a French painting, The Improbability of Love by Hannah Rothschild.

The movie of The Goldfinch is due for release in September this year.

Have you read any of these books? What is your review? Will you see the movie? Tell me in a comment below.

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Featured image credit- Nicole Kidman, Boyd Gaines & Oakes Fegley in The Goldfinch, 2019, https://www.imdb.com/title/tt3864056/
Body image credit- The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt, https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17333223

Comments (12)


    Dear Susannah

    I read and enjoyed the Goldfinch. Donna Tart is very good at creating and developing characters who are believable, attractive and interesting. In this she is comparable with Dickens. Her plots are intriguing and get you in. However,I do not think that the Goldfinch is nearly as good as The Secret History which was a compelling study of the relationships that develop in an exclusive group or “cult”and the exercise of power. Atmosphere is her thing.
    As an art lover I enjoyed the ambience of The Goldfinch. However, when the plot moves to Las Vegas it becomes a new novel.
    and again the latter part in Amsterdam could have been a seperate tale. She could have made three novels from this subject; perhaps mentored herself with Anthony Powell rather than Dickens.
    I am looking forward to the film. The discipline of writing a screen play could tighten the plot.

    • Susannah Fullerton

      I do like your summary of The Goldfinch – it does become a new, and different novel when it moves to Las Vegas. Yes, her strength is in creating atmosphere. It is years since I read The Secret History, but I did really enjoy it. It will be most interesting to see the film, won’t it.

  2. Alexandra (Alex) Young

    HI Susannah,
    I recently read the Goldfinch and I loved it. I found the characters wonderful and I loved Theo.
    Just fascinating the way the story evolved, the way he was taken in by that family and then the other man who was so good to him.
    Also the drama and intrigue surrounding that painting. marvellous, I can’t wait to see the film.
    Also loved her other book, “The Little Friend”.

    • Susannah Fullerton

      I have not read The Little Friend, but really enjoyed The Secret History. She seems to write slowly, but let’s hope there’s another Donna Tartt book before too long.

  3. Susan Weisgrau

    That it’s Dickensian is exactly why I love it. Yes there were two sections that most felt should have been shorter; yet I still hated to have it end.

    • Susannah Fullerton

      Yes, I also loved te Dickensian style and story. It was a memorable novel.

    • Ok maybe it’s just me but i had to force myself to read this long long long and tedious book – The whole 800+ pages of it. The worst part is I returned it to the library and someone must’ve stolen it while it was still in my name so years later I still have it as a blemish on my record! Oh the shame 🙂

      • Susannah Fullerton

        Oh dear, what a pity that the stolen book was not even one you enjoyed. I found the novel really intriguing, but you are certainly not alone in your dislike of it. I guess that means you will not bother with the movie?

  4. Marilyn Forbes

    It remains one of my memorable reads. Yes some editing could have happened but it never detracted from my urgency or enjoyment in reading. I hope a film of a few hours can do it justice.

    • Susannah Fullerton

      I also hope the film can do it justice. It won’t be an easy novel to film and writing the script would be a challenge.

  5. I found The Goldfinch an intriguing novel but thought it could do with a bit more editing. Some of the descriptions were extremely long and seemed to serve no purpose. Tartt can create atmosphere brilliantly and the opening was gripping.I liked the irony of the denouement.

    • Susannah Fullerton

      Yes, I agree that it could have done with some editing. But it was an intriguing novel, wasn’t it.

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