Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Annotation: Literary Fiction

The Goldfinch
Donna Tartt
Little, Brown and Company
784 pages

The Goldfinch is the story of troubled Theo Decker’s life from adolescence to adulthood. After his mother was killed in a terrorist attack at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, traumatized Theo absconds with the titular, real-life painting. What follows is a coming-of-age story with a dash of the criminal underworld thrown in. The Goldfinch won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction.

Literary Appeal
The Goldfinch is a character-driven work that features a cast of complex, memorable people; among them is the charming delinquent Boris, elderly antique dealer Hobie, and the wealthy and damaged Barbour family. At 784 pages, the story is leisurely-paced and richly-detailed. Tartt employs the symbolism of the famous painting of a bird chained to a perch that relates multiple characters’ lives and obsessions; everyone is chained to something: addictions, memories, or another person. The tone is quite melancholy, and though the book is long, the author describes characters’ journeys through loss and grief so lyrically it propels the story forward.       

Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Burnt is the tale of fourteen-year-old June who is mourning the loss of her beloved uncle in 1987. This is a YA book, but readers who like a haunting coming-of-age story will like Burnt’s portrait of grief. This story also features quirky characters

The Secret History is Donna Tartt’s first novel and features similar pacing and stylistic complexity. Like The Goldfinch, it is a coming-of-age story that details the often debauched youth of several characters and employs both symbolism and elements of danger.

She’s Come Undone by Wally Lamb is about the troubled life of Delores Price. It is similarly-paced, engaging, and melancholy. There are multiple characters, both sympathetic and cruel. Delores ultimately overcomes her horrific childhood and adolescence, and the ending is uplifting.  


  1. Darcy, I have had a couple of patrons tell me how much they liked this book and recommended it. It does sound interesting, especially the chaining symbolism the author uses connecting the painting to people. It always amazes me when a writer uses symbolism and gives the reader a new way to view something.

  2. Fantastic annotation! You did a great job describing a complex plot in your summary. I've always wanted to read this but have been a little intimidated by it's size. Full points!