»But the main problem with The Goldfinch is that it asserts lovability and wit without ever successfully enacting either. We are told, for instance, that Theo’s mother is a wonderful person, but when she speaks she seems quite boring. Hobie shares «the most enjoyable conversation» with Theo when they first meet, but this turns out to be a routine exchange about school study. Boris can make Theo «laugh sometimes until my sides ached, and we always had so much to say», but he doesn’t delight the reader at all. And Pippa, Theo’s great love, is first a ladylike invalid out of Tennessee Williams, and then nothing very much.«

Philip Hensher

An expert practitioner of «the higher hokum»: Philip Hensher reviews the novel The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt. His review at The Spectator.

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