Sample Sunday: Rain, Girls and Goldfinches
It’s many weeks since I last have a rummage around my shelves of owned-but-unread books for a Sample Sunday post. From the section of titles all beginning with the letter G, I’ve chosen just three books to sample before deciding whether to let go or keep. Let’s see what you make of my decisions.
The Gift of Rain by Tan Twan Eng
Tan Twan Eng’s debut novel was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize in 2007. Set in Penang, 1939, this book presents a story of betrayal, courage and love through a friendship that develops between a half English/half Chinese boy and a Japanese diplomat. Their relationship is put under pressure when Japan invades Malaysia.
The Verdict: Keep. I’ve seen some comments that Tan can be heavy handed in his use of historical information but it’s nevertheless an impressive piece of fiction.
The Girl Before by J P Delaney
A psychological thriller architect who exerts control over the people who get to live in one of his minimalist houses. He dictates his tenants are not to fill it with books, photos, clutter or personal effects of any kind. Surprisingly some people are willing to agree to those terms. The book focuses on the experience of two women who separately occupy the house.
The Verdict: Ditch. This doesn’t sound particularly interesting. I can’t even remember buying it let alone why.
The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
Bought at a time when I was preparing to go on a long international flight for which I thought I’d need a long and absorbing novel. But the trip got cancelled and I never got around to reading this. It won Tartt the Pulitzer Prize in 2014. Reviews on Goodreads mention that it’s over long at 900 pages of tangled, convoluted plot. One reviewer described it as “an entertaining, boldly plotted but ultimately implausible and somewhat sentimental fairy tale.”
The Verdict: Undecided. The length is off-putting but if the novel really is as good as the Pulitzer judges and many other literary critics, deem it to be, then it won’t feel overly-long.
Sample Sunday is when I take a look at all the unread books on my shelves and decide which to keep and which to let free. The goal isn’t to shrink the TBR as such, but rather it’s about making sure my shelves have only books I do want to read. What do you think of the decisions I’ve reached? If you’ve read any of these books I’d love to hear from you.
24 thoughts on “Sample Sunday: Rain, Girls and Goldfinches”
I enjoyed The Goldfinch. Reviewed it here https://necromancyneverpays.wordpress.com/2015/07/20/the-goldfinch/
Thanks Jeanne, I’ll take a look at your review. There seem to be more fans here than people who didn’t care for the book
I’ve resisted all temptation to pick up a copy of The Goldfinch for this exact reason – I didn’t want to end up dithering over whether I ACTUALLY wanted to read it! 😅 I’m planning to read The Secret History first, not quite as chunky, and see how I feel about tackling a bigger Tartt after that.
I have a copy of Tartt’s debut to reread sometime as it impressed me back then though I have little memory of the details. I wrote a post ince about Renaissance paintings of boys with goldfinches –!such lovely birds, and virtually every year a charm of goldfinches visits our birdfeeders – but I can’t summon up enthusiasm to read Tartt’s novel somehow. Perhaps it’s its mixed reception.
Lucky you with those visitors to your bird feeders. We seem to get mostly pigeons.
We get pigeons too – woodpigeons and collared doves – but also greenfinches and chaffinches, blue tits and great tits and coal tits and siskins and sometimes long-tailed tits, also sparrows and blackbirds, with robins, dunnocks and the occasional wren ground-feeding with the woodpigeons.
But we are in a National Park, after all, with jackdaws, buzzards, kites and the odd paraglider overhead, so not surprising!
I have had The Goldfinch on my shelves since I started my 746 project and the length keeps making me put it to the side! I tried to watch the TV adaptation of The Girl Before and was decidedly unimpressed/
I have several very long books on my shelves and every time I see them I push aside.
I agree with Laura and Adrian. It’s absolutely ages since I read The Goldfinch, but I remember being thoroughly absorbed by it. The Gift of Rain looks worth a go, but like you, I think I’ll give The Girl Before a miss.
Looks like The Goldfinch gets to live another day (or more likely another year) on my shelves….
This is such a good idea! I totally agree with ditching The Girl Before, the TV series was much better. The Goldfinch is too long but I’ve read it twice and I think it’s such a fantastic novel. I liked it better than The Secret History.
You’ve read Goldfinch twice! Wow, it must have really impressed you
It’s a big unwieldy beast of a book and much too long but as a Donna Tartt fan I’d still recommend ‘The Goldfinch.’ Even when it meanders, I don’t think she can write a boring sentence and lots of it feels incredibly vivid and alive. Definitely something Dickensian about this book.
Thanks for the insight Adrian. Now I just need to carve out time for such a long read
I also got carried along by a The Goldfinch without really being aware how long it was. I recommend you give it a go.
The majority vote on here is to keep The Goldfinch. When I will ever get to read it is another matter! Thanks for the advice Jenny
I will get to The Goldfinch someday, I love her other two.
Goldfinch is certainly dividing opinions on here
I thought The Goldfinch was pretty poor – stretched beyond belief, and full of anachronisms and stereotyped characterisation. I’m afraid I also abandoned The Gift of Rain, though I loved his The Garden of Evening Mists.
I also have Garden of Evening Mists (unread). Maybe I should start with that one
I enjoyed Tan Twan Eng’s other book, The Garden of Evening Mists, so I’m glad you’re planning to keep The Gift of Rain. It does sound interesting.
I have both of them. Unusual for me to buy more than one book by an author I’ve not yet read. Must have been the Malaysia setting that appealed
I loved Secret History but never got on with Tartt’s second book so wasn’t drawn to Goldfinch. Let me know how you get on!
it’s so long ago since I read Secret History I can’t remember anything about it beyond the fact I enjoyed it. But clearly not enough to get me to buy the second one