This is not a review of this book. I read it in one great gulp 2 nights ago during an insomniac episode. Couldn’t put it down. Read some reviews of it which were mostly a bit harsh. Anyway, I worked it out. The conceit, I mean.
Gosh, Donna Tartt is clever. Too clever for her reviewers, that’s for sure. There’s a reason this book won the Pulitzer Prize in 2014.
I was trying to work out what it was that was just a bit wrong about the book. Just a bit off. A bit overwrought, grandiose and false. I mean, all the coincidences, the strange unexplained episodes. The sheer near normal but not peculiarity of it. The love I felt for Theo even though he was essentially a liar, drug addict and thief. The romance, the yearning, the quest.
And there it was. It’s a picaresque novel. It’s absurdist, but grounded in enough truth that you have to look more closely to see the conceit. Like the painting by Fabritius on which the book hangs, from afar it looks real, delicate. Up close it’s just brush strokes. Donna Tartt was TEASING us. It was a joke. A long one, but there it is.
Well done, Donna.