A remarkable story in so many ways. More than once I have heard it called Dickensian, and the lush detail and distinctive characters merit comparison, but I feel about this like I do about David Copperfield -- it would be a better story if it were about 200 pages shorter. I don't categorically object to 700+ pages, but few books are their best at that length, at least that's been my experience.
Nevertheless Tartt is brilliant, and I love what she's done with the Fabritius painting, the characters and circumstances she crafts from it, and the exploration of ideas, and the meaning that is made in the process, and her way with words. About halfway through I realized I could tell which character was speaking without attribution, the voices are that distinct, as is her talent, and damn she's gorgeous too . . .
-- Who knows what Fabritius intended? There's not enough of his work left to even make a guess. The bird looks out at us. It's not idealized or humanized. It's very much a bird. Watchful, resigned. There's no moral or story. There's no resolution. There's only a double abyss: between painter and imprisoned bird; between the record he left of the bird and our experience of it, centuries later . . . And as much as I'd like to believe there's a truth beyond illusion, I've come to believe that there's no truth beyond illusion. Because, between 'reality' on one hand, and the point where the mind strikes reality, there's a middle zone, a rainbow edge where beauty comes into being, where two very different surfaces mingle and blur to provide what life does not: and this is the space where all art exists, and all magic. And, I would argue as well, all love. (pp.766/770) --