This is the third novel from Donna Tartt after the bestsellers The Secret History and The Little Friend.
Theo Decker, just thirteen, is left orphaned after a bomb blast kills his mother in an art gallery in New York. In the confusion he steals the painting by Fabritius: The Goldfinch. Alone and suffering from the loss he is taken in by the wealthy parents of a school friend and embarks a strange life as a permanent house guest in their Park Avenue apartment. The action switches to a desolate suburb of Las Vegas as Theo’s long lost father turns up to claim him. He is befriended by Boris, a young Ukrainian, at school and they begin an intense friendship. The story reverts back to New York as Theo becomes a young man, working as an antique dealer, weighed down with his secret possession of the painting and still haunted by his mother’s death. The book almost turns into an action thriller as Theo is drawn into a criminal underworld in Amsterdam.
This book has a huge range of characters and a gargantuan sweep through contemporary life which gives it a Dickensian feel. I loved the quality of the writing, most vivid in the descriptions of battered antiques or the vastness of a desert sky. This book is sumptuous.