The Goldfinch, an epic novel by Donna Tartt, has become a household title since its publication in 2013. In addition to the public’s approval, the 700-page novel also won the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, among other literary tributes. Later, in 2019, The Goldfinch was even adapted to the big screen. Why did Tartt’s masterpiece take the world by storm? Here’s the synopsis:
The Goldfinch follows Theo Decker, the thirteen-year-old son of a devoted mother and absent father. When his mother dies in a tragic accident that he himself miraculously survives, Theo finds himself set adrift in New York with only the stolen Dutch painting of a goldfinch to remind him of his past. The story follows Theo into adulthood, bouncing from home to home, from tragedies and misadventures. Though he finds work selling antiques to the wealthy, the goldfinch painting continues to haunt him, increasingly so as he enters into the underworld of illegal art. Considered an odyssey through present-day America, Theo’s tale of survival and self-invention enthralls all who read it.
Heavy with themes of love, loss, obsession, fate, and beauty, Tartt’s work is ultimately unique. However, these three books include similar aspects to the famed novel, such as generational stories, explorations into the value of art, beautiful descriptions of settings, and haunting mysteries. If you’re longing for another epic to get lost in, try one of these three books:
1. Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff
Fates and Furies is a remarkable examination of a marriage. Every story has two sides. Every relationship has two perspectives. And sometimes, it turns out, the key to a great marriage is not its truths but its secrets. In Fates and Furies, Laura Groff presents the story of Lotto and Mathilde’s marriage over the course of twenty-four years.
At age twenty-two, Lotto and Mathilde are young and in love, destined for greatness. Even decades later, their marriage of sparkling perfection and longevity is the envy of all. But no one knows what happens in a marriage behind closed doors—sometimes, not even its participants. An epic novel that delves into the obsessive world of art, power, wealth, secrets, and enigmatic characters, Fates and Furies has similar themes to The Goldfinch.
2. Bel Canto by Anne Pratchett
Somewhere in South America, a lavish birthday party is being held in honor of the powerful businessman Mr. Hosokawa. Roxanne Coss, opera’s most revered soprano, has mesmerized his international guests with her singing. As the final note is sung, the lights go out, and gun-wielding terrorists enter. What begins as a terrifying, life-threatening scenario slowly evolves into something incredible. The shocking event forges unusual relationships that unite both terrorists and hostages, and people from different continents become compatriots, intimate friends, and lovers.
Loosely based on real events, Patchett’s vivid imagination reenvisions the stereotypical hostage situation into a captivating story of strength and frailty, love and imprisonment, and transcendent romance. Intersectional themes of art, the elite, and unforeseen terrorism make Bel Canto perfect for fans of The Goldfinch.
3. Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys
Fifteen-year-old Lina is a Lithuanian girl living an ordinary life in the year 1941—until Soviet officers invade her home and tear her family apart. Separated from her father and forced onto a crowded train, Lina, her mother, and her young brother make their way to a Siberian work camp. Here they are forced, under Stalin’s orders, to dig for beets and fight for their lives under the cruelest of conditions.
Lina finds solace in her art, meticulously documenting events by drawing, hoping these messages will make their way to her father’s prison camp to let him know they are still alive. Risking everything, she imbeds clues in her drawings of their location and secretly passes them along, hoping her drawings will make their way to her father’s prison camp. Spanning years and covering 6,500 miles, Lina’s strength, love, and hope for survival are reminiscent of Theo’s journey in The Goldfinch.
So the next time you feel the urge to reread Donna Tartt’s masterpiece, consider picking up one of these recommendations instead. I promise they’re worth it!
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