At first the heft of this book, weighing in at 771 pages, was intimidating. However, Theo managed to persuade me to take the whole trip. Am I glad I did? I still don’t know. The book is actually a series of passages in Theo’s life, starting with the terrible death of his mother and acquision of The Goldfinch painting by the master Fabritius. He is taken in by the rich family of one of his classmates, also a misfit. The depiction of upper East Side New York qualifies as a novel of manners in this section.
Move to Las Vegas where Theo goes with his n’er-do-well father and father’s girlfriend. Here Theo meets best friend and Russian, Boris, and the two of them embark on a life of debauchery of such proportions as to be almost heroic. That the two are so young only underscores the outrageousness of it all.
Move on to Theo’s life as antiques dealer and wheeler-dealer. Having lost his soul, Theo cons clients and becomes engaged to the daughter of the rich family who adopted him earlier. All along the faithful Hobie minds the shop. Perhaps the only innocent part of Theo left is his obsession with Pippa, whom he originally met when his mother was killed in the museum blast, but who, alas, moves to Texas and later becomes engaged to a useless Brit.
Onto the phase where Theo tries to get back The Goldfinch painting. Through a series of sometimes violent adventures and crimes, he does regain possession of the painting that still escapes my understanding of its importance in his life. Maybe it is a metaphor for the inability of Theo to escape from all the bad forces that lurk in his life?
The writing is beautifully done in terms of imagery, sentence structure, the basics, really. And yes, Theo is interesting, although I found Boris more so. The bottom line here is that the book could have used more editing.