Why I didn’t like the end of The Goldfinch

Warning: Mega Spoilers. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the Goldfinch. New York felt open and lively; I shivered in the winter and was palmy in the summer. Vegas was dusty and dirty; it smelt bad and was grey – not like New York which was bright and colourful at times and at others, mainly in Hobie’s, various shades of Browns and Terracottas. I lamented Theo’s mother’s death. I both loved and hated Boris, I awaited his return with a savage greed for more of the character that I almost couldn’t stand. And Hobie… how I loved him.

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The Goldfinch

Donna Tartt, author of the Goldfinch, is also the creator of my all time favourite novel, The Secret History. Every time I have a major life crisis, I read the Secret History and for me the ending to that is perfect. The Secret History’s end is (overused metaphor coming up) bitter-sweet. Richard (and to some degree, the other members of the Greek class) is stuck in a sort-of perpetual reminisce of the past. However the Goldfinch, well… Firstly, I really wanted something bad to happen. That’s sounds horrible. I have nothing against Theo – but when he was in the hotel room, preparing to turn himself into the cops, I wanted that to be the end. I wanted some kind of escape for Theo – even if that was prison. Next, I believed and still do, that The Goldfinch belonged to Theo. Welty gave The Goldfinch to Theo. The Goldfinch was Theo’s reminder of his mother, like the death of his mother had been transferred into the painting somehow. Right up to the end I thought he would get it back and was heavy hearted when I finished the book and he didn’t have the painting.

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Donna Tartt

So, about 50 pages before the end, I got it. Theo said something like ‘as I write this’ and my mind automatically went back to school where Theo received a book in which to write, and I got it. The whole thing had been his own notes. For the last 50 pages I was waiting for the the idea to come out and when it did, there was no surprise. Lastly, and my main reason for not liking the ending, was how preachy it became. The last few pages were essentially ‘live your life to the fullest’ rambling by Theo, and this, I didn’t feel was him. Theo is an introvert – ever since his Mother died, he hadn’t loved anyone like that. He didn’t make a big deal about not having the painting – even though he spent his whole life keeping it safe.

Don’t think that this means I don’t think it deserves acclaim – it does. But I just feel Tartt could have used her exquisite imagination and unique perspective into Theo’s mind to create something less…tied up.

Almost, less satisfying.

Less Hollywood.

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