This review was written by Tiffany, one of our patrons here at Griffin Free. I am posting it on her behalf. We appreciate having reviews from our users, and invite anyone who is interested to give it a shot. Thanks!
I was intrigued when one book in particular kept turning up on multiple “Best Books of 2013” lists. That book was Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch. Curious, but also a new mom, time to sit and read was nonexistent. So, I opted to take advantage of our library’s affiliation with NH Downloadable Books and put my name on the (rather lengthy) waiting list. I knew I’d be able to listen to a book while I did chores or nursed our baby.
The audiobook is narrated by a very talented voice actor named David Pittu. A quick Google search revealed that he is mostly known for his narration of children’s books and has won awards for this work. It was easy to understand why immediately upon hearing his narration. The Goldfinch is an engaging novel that begins when the main character, Theodore Decker, is a young adolescent and follows him throughout his teenage years, early adulthood, and through to his late twenties. Pittu’s narration naturally flows from each stage of Theo’s life to the next. It must also be said that Tartt gives Pittu exemplary material with which to work. She writes splendidly about the relationships Theo has with a variety of different people and even places, such as New York City, some of which become characters in and of themselves. She has managed to create a character in Theo who is at once extremely likable and extremely flawed. She accomplishes this without it feeling contrived, forced or phony, yet anyone who has tried to write even a short essay will know how difficult it is to write someone so well, leaving the reader cheering for him every step of the way while at the same time begging him not to make disastrous choice after disastrous choice.
Tartt’s excellent character development doesn’t end with Theo; main, and even less important characters (including pets) come alive and feel as if they are someone you know. Pittu’s skills as a narrator become apparent in this, too. He provides accents to a high-brow New Yorker, a Russian immigrant, and Latino doormen, to name a few. Each one has their own distinct voice and Pittu nails them. Unlike other audio books where the lackluster narration detracts from the book, Pittu’s certainly enhances it.
Tartt’s storyline is taut but loaded with details that seem insignificant as they are introduced. It is often only much later that their true importance is revealed. The ending of the book, though unexpected, is satisfying. There was only one question I had that was left unanswered and I’ve learned to accept that I may never learn the answer. This book is rich with layer upon layer of meaningful themes without ever telling you what to think or being self important. Tartt’s explorations of unconditional love, friendship, family, right and wrong, death, life, trauma, and, ultimately, redemption, leave the reader with much deep thinking to do, but it is such a fantastic read, that you will gladly do so and be left wanting more!