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Kate Says: "Reading Is Fun!"

Like most of you I'm an avid reader. I'm hoping to re-connect with old friends, make new friends, and of course spread the love of reading and writing around to everyone!

Currently reading

Amy Falls Down: A Novel
Jincy Willett
The Van Gogh Blues: The Creative Person's Path Through Depression
Eric Maisel Phd
Yes Please
Amy Poehler

The Goldfinch: First Book of My Big Book Challenge 2014 (UPDATE 3 of 5)

The Goldfinch - Donna Tartt

This is the shortest section of the book, but a lot of interesting things happen, that I will outline in my plot summary below, complete with spoilers, so if you want to be surprised don't read any further. Now that I'm more than half way through this big book, I can honestly say that the time I have put into it has totally been worth it.


The plot so far (pages 370 - 429): While Theo is at Hobie's house getting over the flu, Boris texts Theo to say he's having a lot of fun in Vegas - partying on the Strip, girls, drinking, drugs, etc. He lets Theo know that he he has left at a bad time. Theo asks Boris to call him later, but Boris never does, and it will be a very long time before Theo hears anything from Boris again.


Pippa, who is at Hobbie's for Thanksgiving break, also dotes on Theo. She comes into his room with a clean and fluffy Popper and tells Theo that she has to go back to boarding school in Switzerland, but hopes everything works out okay for him. She then says good bye and gives Theo an origami frog, that he keeps on his night stand.


When Theo is feeling better, Hobie takes him to his lawyer's appointment. There, Hobie becomes Theo's temporary guardian, and Mr. Bracegirdle (the lawyer) urges Theo to think about boarding school for next term or even for summer school.


At the same time, Theo is very uneasy about the painting and what to do with it, but the far greater part of his unease has to do with his father. Theo knows that his father's death wasn't his fault, but he blames himself, none the less. The only soothing part is Hobie's house and here's a nice quote about that:

It was all very different from the crowded, complicated, and overly formal atmosphere of the Barbours'. (p. 395)

Theo uses his inheritance money that his mother left him for Popper's vet bills (he has worms), his dental bill (lots of cavitites), a laptop, iPhone, shoes, and winter clothes. Theo also goes to the store and buys groceries when he and Hobie run out of small items.


At Hobie's, dinner is the time of day Theo looks forward to the most because he's never alone. Also, Hobie can't resist telling others how he and Theo became friends, all because of Welty. Through Hobie's friends' stories, Theo feels he knows more about Welty, as well. However, Theo feels troubled because it wasn't just the ring that Welty gave him, it was also the painting. Theo knows that he will have to tell Hobie about it at some point in time, but isn't sure on how to approach the subject.


When Theo is on his way home from taking some placement tests, he sees a headline in the paper that reads:



Theo buys himself a copy of the paper and reads the story; where the final paragraph leaps out at him as if it had been published in red. It reads:

As for other art still missing, the hopes of investigators have been revived, and authorities are now looking into several local leads. "The more you shake the trees, the more falls out of them," said Richard Nunnally, city police liaison with the FBI art crimes unit. "Generally, with art theft, the pattern is for pieces to be whisked out of the country very quickly, but this find in the Bronx only goes to confirm that we probably have quite a few amateurs at work, inexperienced parties who stole on impulse and don't have the know-how to sell or conceal these objects." According to Nunnally, a number of people present at the scene are being questioned, contacted, and reinvestigated: "Obviously, now, the thinking is that a lot of these missing pictures may be here in the city right under our noses." (p. 403)

Theo feels sick and dumps the paper in the nearest trash can. However, variations of the article are in all the newspapers and Hobie even talks about it at dinner that night:

Really disturbing. (p. 403)

Later that night, when Hobie is asleep, Theo takes out his laptop to do more research, and discovers that ALL the newspapers WORLD WIDE are covering the story. The consequences of Theo's actions begin to make him panic. However, there is a small glimmer of hope, which is that since Theo isn't planning on selling the painting, it's next to impossible to tract the missing painting to him.


With this knowledge in his head, Theo takes a few pain pills, and falls into an uneasy sleep.


Theo is so terror filled and anxiety ridden regarding the painting, that it overshadows the arrival of the letter, which states that Theo has been accepted for the spring term of the early college program. It takes Theo two days to work up the courage to tell Hobie, but when Theo finally does, Hobie is very excited for Theo.


However, Theo soon realizes that the only reason he got into this school at all is because of "the tragedy." It was as if a black curtain had come down on Theo's life in Vegas.


At this point Theo has long given up trying to text or call Boris; messages to Kotku's phone go unanswered, his home phone number in Vegas has been disconnected.


The informal nature of Theo's stay with Hobie has Theo worried too, since Mr. Bracegirdle and Theo's counselor at school have taken great pains to explain that although the dorms at the college are reserved for older students, something could be worked out in Theo's case.


However, when the topic of living arrangements come up, Theo falls silent and stares at his shoes. The main reason Theo doesn't want to live in a dorm on campus are due to his security concerns and the fact that he has never had a roommate he hasn't known before.


In Theo's trance of anxiety, he throws himself into the task of being indispensable to Hobie: Theo runs errands, cleans brushes, helps with the inventory, and sorts through fittings and old pieces of cabinet wood, to find just the right one.


Months pass by in this manner and during this whole time, Theo has carefully followed the news about the Bronx art thieves. They have all pled guilty and have received the most severe sentences allowed by law. The general view seems to be that they would all still be living happily free, had they not made the dumb move of trying to sell the painting to a dealer, who phoned the cops.


Even this news doesn't alleviate Theo's anxiety because there had been a day when Theo returned to Hobie's from school, to find the upstairs thick with smoke and firemen trooping around the hall outside of his bedroom.

"Mice," said Hobie. "I can't abide glue traps, they're cruel, and I've put off having an exterminator in but good Lord, this is outrageous, I can't have them chewing through the electrical wires, if not for the alarm the place could have gone up like that." (p. 419)


There was no real damage done, but the incident still shakes Theo up badly. Then, only a few weeks later, Theo finds Hobie in his room, kneeling on the rug near his bed--reaching under the bed, but in reality, Hobie is just replacing a cracked pane in the bottom of the bedroom window. This even almost sends Theo into a cardiac plunge.


Then, after Theo has been at Hobie's for an otherwise uneventful eight months, an unexpected solution presents itself. Theo realizes that he's on good terms with all of Hobie's moving and storage guys. So when Grisha asks Theo if he'd like to help him move some furniture to a storage facility in Brooklyn, Theo doesn't hesitate to go.


At the storage facility, Theo examines a brochure on a rack by the display of bubble wrap and packing tape that says:







At the storage unit, Theo asks Grisha, "what keeps people from putting illegal stuff here?" (p424) He replies, "Nothing is what keeps them. Bury something here and no one will find it, unless you get bumped off or sent to the can and don't pay the fee." (p.424)

That night when Theo gets home, he takes the Yellow Pages from Hobie's kitchen and carries it back to his room where he looks up: Storage:Fine Arts. He finds a storage facility in his old neighborhood. The next day instead of going to class, he retrieves the pillowcase from under his bed , puts  it in a brown bag from Bloomingdale's, and takes a cab to the sporting goods store in Union Square, where after a bit of dithering, he purchases a cheap pup tent and then catches a cab back up to Sixtieth Street.
The men at the front desk of the storage facility seem completely uninterested in Theo's package, nor does anyone find it noteworthy or unusual that Theo would want to pay for the locker a year or two in advance, in cash. 
He memorizes his locker number and combination and walks out thinking:
"That easy?" (p.426)
Since Theo is in his old neighborhood, he decides to pay a visit to his old building to say hello to Goldie and Jose, the doormen of his old apartment building. However, when Theo turns the corner, he notices that the building has scaffolding all around it, and the windows are taped shut with official notices. Theo checks it out and notices that the whole building has been gutted, and a contractor tells him that the owners sold the building and the last tenants were forced out a few months ago. Theo walks away feeling sick and the further he walks away, the more upset he gets, at the loss of one of the few stable and unchanging docking-points in the world that he'd taken for granted (p.428)