I’ve had a bit of a love-hate relationship with Donna Tartt. It all started back when I was working on my MFA at Virginia Commonwealth University. Her first novel, The Secret History, had just been published, and everyone was talking about it. I was really looking forward to reading it–I’d read some of her short fiction and loved it, so I was certain I’d love The Secret History. Well, that didn’t really happen. Everyone else loved it. I hated it. I thought maybe I just wasn’t in the right frame of mind for it, so I set it aside and decided to give it another try later. So I waited…in fact, I waited six months and tried again. Nope, no dice. Still didn’t like it. I felt like I’d been duped. I thought the language was inauthentic, and I couldn’t suspend my disbelief to accept that anything like what was taking place in the novel was even possible. I shoved the book back into my bookshelf and forgot about it.
Fast forward a few years and I moved to Sweden. I was having a hard time finding any books in English that I really wanted to read and books in English were rather expensive for a very broke English teacher who was only working part-time. I was going through a box of old papers and found my copy of The Secret History, which I didn’t even remember packing. Out of desperation, I began reading it again. This time, though, I really enjoyed it. Perhaps it was the watery grey light of Swedish winter that lent itself to the book’s mood. Suddenly, I liked The Secret History—though I never fell in love with it in the same way that many others did.
But I came to see that Donna Tartt‘s writing style was moody, lush and exquisite. When her next novel, The Little Friend, was published, I practically devoured it. It was such a riveting story…terrifying, compelling and a great example of modern Southern Gothic.
Now it’s been a while since The Goldfinch was published and, while I have it on my To Be Read List, I haven’t managed to get to it yet. Perhaps it’s time. It’s been on my Kindle long enough.