Out of 6,855 readers who weighed in, Amazon’s average rating for The Goldfinch is 4 Stars, satisfyingly above average and into “I greatly enjoyed it”. Though I’m firmly in the at least 4 Star+ group I must admit I’m a little surprised how high the general rating actually is.
This isn’t an easy book. It’s no Dan Brown or Mitch Albom piece of popular crap. Rather, it’s a complex, in places overly long and definitely taxing read. At 755 pages, it’s a door stop of a novel. So why the high rating, especially from a reading public not known for its stamina? Peer pressure? The need to look hyper-intellectual?
Much as I hate the phrase, it’s “Dickensian”: Great Expectations re-imagined. My own theory, one I haven’t seen backed up yet (though I’ve read few reviews, in my defense) but I recognize the plot and characters. Tartt was influenced by the great Victorian, plopping “Pip” down into 21st century Manhattan. In this case, Pippa is his Estella. Theo is Pip. Miss Havisham? An antiques dealer/refinisher who is anything but a bitter old woman. Solitary, yes. Evil-spirited? No. Joe Gargery? The doormen employed in the building he lived in with his mother. Magwitch? His father. Herbert Pocket? Platt.
The Pulitzer committee obviously loved it but what leaves me scratching my head is its popular fame. I just don’t buy it. It’s long, it drags in places and it’s intellectual: everything the bulk of readers dislike. Has she turned a literary tide? Will the general public again see Dickens as a superstar?
In any case, she was awarded the prize and I’m pleased. I may never figure out why Amazon’s exploding with positivity but so it goes. She deserves it. Every bit of it. The ten-year wait was well worth it.
Well done, Ms. Tartt. Well done.