The first thing you would notice if you saw this book was its extraordinary thickness and weightiness, over 700 hundred pages.
The story unfolds with minute detail in every scene and, despite the brilliant descriptive passages there are moments of tedium, an urge to ‘get on with it’.
The main character, Theo, is a child, living with his mother, his father having left them some years earlier. His mother is killed when they visit an art gallery in New York and there is an explosion. He is left hurt, alone, bereft and bewildered. The reader is shocked and feels great sympathy for him. This sympathy gradually wanes when he becomes a teenager and becomes influenced by his only friend Boris. He is living at this time in Las Vegas with his alcoholic father and drug taking partner, Xandra. He receives no loving care or guidance and quickly descends into drunken / drug-induced stupors with Boris.
Theo, in a lucid moment, decides to run away, back to New York where he was once happy and takes with him the family dog and the painting he took from the art gallery of The Goldfinch. He is haunted by this painting because he cannot return it without punishment for theft, but it has immense value and he loves it.
The story takes many twists and turns the character of Hobie, a furniture restorer, gives Theo a semblance of normality and eventually a job selling antiques. When it ends there is a feeling of loss for all that Theo could have been if only his mother had not died.
It provoked much discussion by the members of Kirby Hill Reading group. They all felt it had some worth but were unable to recommend it as a good story. Star value, two out of five.