I love the idea of a book club but the pressure of reading at the same pace as a group stresses me out. So, I’m going to do all the book club things – just by myself. Basically it will just be me reading books and drinking wine in bed and then telling you about the book I read each month! Without further explanation (because it’s incredibly straightforward) here’s my September book:
The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
This book will probably go down as one of my favourites in recent memory. It was just released as a movie and premiered at TIFF and, well, I think we can all agree that book adaptations get dicey pretty quickly – especially considering this book is 800 pages and incredibly plot dense. If you aren’t up for that large of a novel investment I’m sure you could get the “coles notes” version of the story from the movie but I really highly recommend reading.
It follows the story of a young boy who loses his mother in a tragic accident early on in his life. Spanning several decades it really touches on how tragedy can impact a person and ripple through your life. It also goes into an interesting perspective on how humans have the capacity to attach emotion, memories and feelings to physical objects and what happens to all of those things when the object is lost or compromised. Arguably, our tendency to do so after loss is even more heightened because it’s the only tangible thing connecting us to a memory.
It’s always been a fascination of mine to understand the “imperfect” or those we consider to be damaged. I like understanding life stories and how people come to be “who they are”. It’s incredible to me how trauma can rearrange an entire human like an etch-a-sketch.
I liked that this book really went into the rolodex of coping mechanisms a person can and will implement into their life in order to survive and continue moving forward after something uproots them. From escapism to excessive attachment, being emotional and yet incapable of emoting “correctly” it really painted a very interesting and tragically beautiful life story. I felt myself going through every emotional transition along with the main character as he navigates the life that he never imagined for himself but finds himself living.
It isn’t a light read by any stretch but I found it completely addictive and I could hardly put it down for a second. The writing is beautiful and completely entrancing.
Book Club Questions
How did the book make you feel?
This book gave me every feeling possible. In this very plot dense book I found myself feeling grief, joy, frustration and indifference all in one chapter. Donna Tartt does a great job of being very descriptive while also not being excessively descriptive which I find to be a very fine line.
I flew through this book, I could not put it down and found myself completely entranced. I would say it will probably stand as one of my favourites and absolutely a book I could read over again.
2. How do you feel about how the story was told?
Some books have a slow build while focusing on character introduction – this is not one of those books. Within the first chapters you’ve already reached (what you believe anyway) to be the most critical event of the novel. What’s really beautiful about this book is that she really focuses on the ‘after’ and how a person is forever changed by a trauma. It’s an interesting perspective to take because it inherently gives you the feeling that who the main character was before this life altering event is irrelevant. There isn’t really a ‘before’ anymore, there’s only an after.
It’s told in a first person narrative from the perspective of Theo and that’s consistent throughout the novel which I appreciate. I like books that show a variety of character angles but for this particular story I think it was perfect to only see the world through his lens.
3. What did you think about the main characters?
I love books that allow their characters to be imperfect and flawed. I found myself frustrated when he would make decisions I wouldn’t make myself and I like that – it pushes my own thought boundaries. I can’t say that I liked every character all the time but I think that was the point to some extent, especially in this particular novel.
Quotes with Impact
“I had the epiphany that laughter was light, and light was laughter, and that that was the secret to the universe”
“From William Blake to Lady Gaga, from Rousseau to Rumi to Tosca to Mister Rogers, it’s a curiously uniform message, accepted from high to low; when in doubt, what to do? How do we know what’s right for us? Every shrink, every career counselor, every Disney princess knows the answer: “Be Yourself.” “Follow your heart.” Only here’s what I really, really want someone to explain to me. What if one happens to be possessed of a heart that can’t be trusted–? What if the heart, for it’s own unfathomable reasons, leads one willfully and in a cloud of unspeakable radiance away from health, domesticity, civic responsibility and strong social connections and all the blandly-held common virtues and instead straight toward a beautiful flare of ruin, self-immolation, disaster?…If your deepest self is singing and coaxing you straight toward the bonfire, is it better to turn away? Stop your ears with wax? Ignore all the perverrse glory your heart is screaming at you? […] Or…is it better to throw yourself head first and laughing into the holy rage calling your name?”