The much-celebrated novel, The Goldfinch, by American author Donna Tartt has now been made into a much less celebrated movie. Knowing that the movie was due for 2019, I finally cracked open the Pulitzer Award winning book originally published in the fall of 2013 that had been sitting on my shelf for a few years. It is well worth the wait and worthy of all the acclaim. The Goldfinch centres around the 1694 painting of the same name by Carel Fabritius. Teenager, Theodore Decker’s mom makes them stop in at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City where a terrorist explosion happens several minutes later. Decker’s mom dies in the explosion but, in the confusion, Theo steals The Goldfinch painting and later takes it to live in Las Vegas with his deadbeat Dad and step mom where he then meets Russian teenager, Boris. The story follows his life from that point on, through many ups and downs and several scenes where Theo is not the most likeable character. Mixing Catcher in the Rye with art heist caper and art history lesson, The Goldfinch is a gripping novel throughout its 784 pages.
Life with My Sister Madonna was a small gift from my now fiancé… that also sat on my shelf for a few years. Written by Christopher Ciccone, Madonna’s younger brother who you can see dance in the “Lucky Star” video, it follows life with the Ciccone’s through the rise of Madonna up to her marriage to Guy Ritchie. There are certainly some interesting tidbits in the book of their upbringing in Michigan, move to NYC, behind the scenes at concerts, etc. If all is true, Ciccone has several talents of his own – he directed two major Madonna concert tours, designed the interiors of many of her homes, and directed a music video for Dolly Parton. What isn’t clear is why he is more interested in just being in Madonna’s orbit rather than following his own star. Surely someone who was a main player on several Madonna tours could work on other tours or events. Unfortunately writing is not one of his talents as the many pointless celebrity mentions are followed up with stories that amount to “I met this person, they were nice, they passed away, I was sad”.
Like The Goldfinch, The Shining Girls from South African Laura Beukes also came out to high praise in 2013. The story follows Harper, a time travelling serial murderer, as he hunts down one “shining” victim after another. His plans begin to unravel when journalism student Kirby survives one of his vicious attacks and starts researching who he could have done this to her. Beukes really makes the streets of Chicago come alive while bouncing through various eras. Horror fiction is not my typical style but the “Shining Girls” was very entertaining throughout.