I spent the majority of my Thanksgiving weekend with my nose buried in Donna Tartt's The Goldfinch, a 784 page tome chronicling the misadventures of a young man who gains possession of a famous Dutch masterpiece, a painting by the same name as the novel.
Captivated by the painting of a small bird tethered to a perch, thirteen-year-old Theo Decker obtains it after a bomb explodes at the New York City art gallery in which it was being displayed, killing his mother. Theo also receives a ring, given to him by a dying elderly man by the name of Welty. After dealing with social workers and the possibility of being shipped off to uncaring grandparents, he ends up under the temporary hospitality of the wealthy parents of a former friend from primary school.
Trying to come to terms with his mother's death, Theo delivers the ring, as promised, to an antique furniture shop and townhouse where he meets Welty's business partner, Hobie, and Welty's granddaughter, Pippa, who was also injured in the explosion. Meanwhile, Theo's estranged father shows up and whisks him off across the country to Las Vegas to live with him and his lover, Xandra with an X. There, Theo meets and befriends Boris, a Russian burnout who ends up playing a key role in Theo's misadventures. Those misadventures take him back to lavish New York, to Amsterdam, and through the criminal underworld, all for the enrapturing masterpiece that consumes him.
The Goldfinch - the novel - is a masterpiece in itself. Donna Tartt has a penchant for detail that - though leads to a lengthy story - often times provides a perfect visual for the setting. Wading through the detail, the reader comes upon scenes that are gripping and suspenseful. Anger, frustration, confusion, fear - I felt all of these while I followed Theo on his quest to come to terms with his past and set things right in his world. It was a Thanksgiving holiday well spent.