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BOOK CLUB BEAT THE BOOK with Sherry Hemingway The Goldfinch: A Novel Author Donna Tartt T his intriguing book is a bit of a commitment. At 771 pages, it is not only daunting, but it is also not casual summer reading fare. Among its several honors, The Goldfinch earned the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2013. At one point I marveled at a perfectly-crafted sentence that was a full page in length. It deserved that amount of space. In short, The Goldfinch is a novel you settle in with when you have the time for a good, long read. The story launches with a jolt. An art-savvy mother and her young son are browsing the galleries in New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art. They pause at one of her favorites, The Goldfinch, a bird painting done by Rembrandt’s pupil Carel Fabritius in 1654. Within minutes, a terrorist’s bomb guts the museum, resulting in massive destruction and loss of life. In that moment, 13-year-old Theo Decker loses his mother and his world. The boy, the painting and tragedy become inextricably bonded. Orphaned Theo narrowly avoids the foster system when he is taken in by a wealthy society family, only to be yanked to Las Vegas by his flim-flam father, who had abandoned him and his mother. Theo is a young, traumatized child turned loose in the world with little adult guidance and considerable negative influences around him. The book is written almost as a series of short novels as Theo moves through the eras of his life, from New York society, to seamy Las Vegas, back to a different New York, and eventually into the inter- national underworld of stolen art. Theo is a damaged child who gets no counseling, and in a maelstrom of good and bad influences, becomes a little bit of both. He grows up to be charming, dis- honest and beset with unwise choices. The Goldfinch is Donna Tartt’s third novel and was 11 years in the making. Clearly her focus was on developing fascinating characters that pull the reader into becoming invested with each one. A long book can deliver that depth. This is a book that the reader is unlikely to set aside, because they must find the answer to the question through- out the novel: How will this end? (Spoiler Alert: Even redemption can be complicated.) SHERRY HEMINGWAY spent her childhood after lights out with a book and flashlight under the covers. With degrees from Kent State University and Harvard University, her life- long career was in journal- ism and public relations. Her hobbies are travel in (very) remote countries, volunteering, and two book clubs. AAUW Gilroy Fiction Book Club RECENT FAVORITES Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown Maisie Dobbs (series) by Jacqueline Winspear The #1 Ladies’ Detective Agency (series) by Alexander McCall Smith Founded more than a half century ago, the American Association of University Women (AAUW) fiction book club in Gilroy has 21 members including (1st row, left to right) Carol Smith, Susan Sterchi, Marian Yoder; (2nd row, left to right) Sabra Dupree, Kathy Earnshaw, Connie Doty, Bonnie Carrol, Donna Pettit and Margie Enger. Instead of everyone selecting and reading a single book, each member reviews the book they personally are reading to inspire others to borrow their copy and enjoy reading it. GILROY • MORGAN HILL • SAN MARTIN SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2016 All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr Bel Canto by Ann Patchett gmhtoday.com 59