On why I haven’t finished The Goldfinch

I seem to be reading The Goldfinch once a year – returning to Donna Tartt’s hallowed halls, antique stores, and New York streets is a luxury I will never tire of.

But.

This year I began the novel just before I flew half-way across the world. Just before I uprooted my life. I read the first few chapters over long stretches folded into Dad’s leather chair, surrounded by the piles of antique rugs that my parents have collected over the years (oh my heart – those rugs!).

And now, over a month later and 18,245 km from where I began, I am still dipping in and out of it.
A page or two every few days.
A favourite passage re-read and remembered over my morning coffee.
A return to the opening chapter.
A study of that little yellow bird peeking out of the cover.

And I don’t want to finish it. Because it’s the book that marks my leaving. The one I dragged through all those airport checks, the only book I sacrificed precious luggage allowance for. It reminds me of those soft, slow, hazy winter mornings at mum and dads. The Goldfinch is a book that is – like those hot mugs of coffee – a comfort in all of this movement and new beginnings. This solid 771 paged tome, with a creased cover and marked pages, is a reminder of home.

So maybe I’ll keep reading and re-reading and delaying the inevitable end. Of course I’ll be seduced and distracted by other books (as I always am) but this book will faithfully stay on my bedside as it keeps those last links to home alive. And when those bouts of homesickness wake me in the night, or wash over me as I tie my shoes, I can return to the words of Donna Tartt, and be comforted by that little yellow bird.

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