Book Club: The Goldfinch Check-In #3

Well, I feel a little foolish. This check in should have been posted TWO WEEKS AGO. My excuses are as follows: I got sick, then my baby got sick, then we were hosting Thanksgiving, then both of our cars broke down on the same day, then my in-laws visited. I’ve been running on fumes and three cups of coffee a day, and have barely had a chance to pick up the book or sit down at my laptop for an extended length of time.

Anyway, for those of you still with us, how’s it going?

If you need a refresher on how this virtual book club works, see here. (And feel free to jump in and join at any time!)


The Goldfinch has twelve (verrrrrry long) chapters, so this week we’ll discuss up through the end of chapter 6.

To check in, comment below and answer the following questions!

How far have you read?

How do you feel about the changes that have occurred since last week’s check in?

Speculation about where the novel is going?

Anything else?


3 thoughts on “Book Club: The Goldfinch Check-In #3

  1. How far have you read?
    I just finished chapter 10, which is a super long one. I won’t talk about chapter 10 in case you haven’t read that far, but wow. What a pickle.

    How do you feel about the changes that have occurred since last week’s check in?
    Well, I have to say I am a tad disappointed that Theo has turned into more than a bit of a D-bag. In his younger days, during Vegas, I could sympathize, in that his drug use and bad behavior could in large part be chalked up to escapism from his lousy life, and his one friend was a wild boy and well, I could make allowances. But after he was back in the welcoming arms of Hobie (where I had hoped he would return!), where life was more secure and someone gave a crap, he still ended up going down a somewhat rotten road. Although he learned his craft and seems to be a hard worker, he is not a very nice person.

    I was so sad about that tragedy that had befallen the Barbours but even more sad to see how disfunctional and damaged that whole family is. I really didn’t get a sense of mental illness with either of the Barbour parents earlier in the book so it was a surprising turn. I find Kitsey to be shallow and unlikeable and Platt gives me the willies. “Mommy” is simply pitiful.

    Lastly, I was hoping for more of a relationship between Pippa and Theo, and have been a bit disappointed that she doesn’t feature more in the book beyond some unrequited longing.

    Speculation about where the novel is going?
    Well it seems obvious that all of Theo’s underhanded dealings are about to come back and bite him on the butt, I am just not sure how bad the bite will be. While I was holding out hope of a happy ending and tidy resolution (he and Pippa fall in love and decorate their house in goldfinch tones, anonymously donate the painting to a museum, care for Hobie in his old age and raise their children with an appreciation of art and family and generosity to strangers…no?) the more I read, the messier his life and situation becomes and I’m sort of dreading where this is all going since I don’t see how he will get out of the mess he’s in. Boris’s reappearance doesn’t bode well, and Kitsey…well, I just want to flick her. Theo is an idiot.

    Anything else?
    I am still enjoying the writing in general. The author is so descriptive that I feel very much a part of the story, although I wish there were more high points. But I suppose in some ways that reflects Theo’s overall outlook. It’s dark. Life is dark, and unhappy for the most part, other than a few pinpricks of light (visits from Pippa, moments with Hobie, happy memories of Mom). Some of the scenes I just find fascinating (the knowledgeable art loving Russian drug dealer). I haven’t lost hope that Theo will find his way, but I’m very worried about him.

  2. April,
    Well said on all points. The Pippa connection just seemed so probable from the beginning since she was the only person Theo knew who had lived through something so horrific and could understand his uniquely damaged psyche. But that’s life, I guess. Nothing works out so neatly. I do love Hobie, Boris and the staff from Theo’s torn-down building. I have learned so much about art and furniture and New York.
    Ironic that the one truly nice person, though still flawed, in the book so far was Theo’s Mom, who got blown up. But I think of it this way: We all have to go some time. She so loved those paintings and knew she may never see them on display again, she HAD to go back for one last look. You just know that despite the tragedy, she 100% loved her last moments. As weird as it sounds, I found some comfort in that. Theo, on the other hand, is left to torture himself through life with unrequited loved, dubious parenting, scruple-stretching decisions, putting up false fronts almost everywhere he goes and still has to figure out what to do about The Goldfinch! So which is better?
    All in all, amazingly descriptive writing. Donna Tartt is a modern-day Charles Dickens in her ability to make us see the story AND to feel it. Time magazine recently named her one of the 100 most influential people in the world. Good call.

    • So I am so behind, but I did just finally finish Chapter 9 myself. I didn’t find Theo to be a D-bag so much as just totally lost. I still really like him as a character- I appreciate that he at least recognizes that he’s going down a really dark path, but he doesn’t really know how to stop himself. He knows his drug addiction is dangerous, that he’s in really deep with the pilfered painting, and that his fraudulent sales are wrong. He makes excuses and justifications, but still seems to recognize that they are just that: excuses. I love Hobie and am looking forward to this reappearance of Boris, which I haven’t come to yet. But I LOVED him the first time around, such a fun and unusual character!

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