Book­shelf

Friday - - Leisure -

The Goldfinch was one of a few paint­ings by a Dutch mas­ter, a pupil of Rem­brandt, to sur­vive an ex­plo­sion in Delft that killed the artist. At the start of Tartt’s novel, more than 350 years later, the paint­ing sur­vives a sec­ond ex­plo­sion, in New York’s Met­ro­pol­i­tan Mu­seum of Art.

It is res­cued (well, taken) from a dust-storm of col­laps­ing rub­ble by 13-year-old Theo, who was vis­it­ing the mu­seum with his mother. She was killed in the blast and the paint­ing be­comes a pow­er­ful force in Theo’s life – a dan­ger­ous se­cret and the key to his sur­vival. A dys­func­tional fam­ily who live in an Up­per East Side apart­ment take Theo in. The book moves from the smart parts of New York to the edge of Las Ve­gas, where life is a roller coaster ride.

But the book’s real heart is the Dick­en­sian fur­ni­ture restora­tion workshop of Ho­bie, Theo’s moral touchs­tone, an ex­quis­ite fig­ure sur­rounded by beau­ti­ful bro­ken things.

Tartt’s writ­ing is mul­ti­lay­ered (prompt­ing com­par­isons with Proust); the bomb in the Met is a vir­tu­oso pas­sage, evok­ing the sen­sory and men­tal con­fu­sion of a sur­vivor, and pro­vid­ing a cat­a­lyst that re­ver­ber­ates through his life.

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt (Lit­tle, Brown) at www. ama­zon.com

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