My response in a sort of nutshell: It is so well written. Tartt seems to have really gotten into the minds of her characters to draw out their personalities and emotions and philosophies. The "happenings" -- i.e., what is actually going on -- for/in each phase of the book (Theo at ages 13, 14, 19, etc.) are quite interesting. The characters are all lovely -- even the ones you don't like! Of course Hobie is a favorite... reminds me a bit of a really smart Hagrid ;) But. The only real "but" I have is there are a *lot* of pontifications... Theo is often musing on big life questions and Tartt herself seems to be inserting her own reflections by way of her various lists. These lists are not bulleted or numbered, of course, but I mean, she'll take a concept and then take it all the way to the end -- rather than simply stating something like "there were a lot of annoying types of people," she'll go through and list 'em all. Which is interesting and, as I say, SO well written... but sometimes made the whole thing feel drawn out a little bit much.
The synopsis in a smaller nutshell: Theo Decker loses his mom when he's a child -- only 13 years old. That's not a spoiler, you know that right away. The book takes you through Theo's life and covers all the consequences, physical and emotional and psychological, for the next ~14 years (not year-by-year, but more like phase of life by phase of life). I simply cannot say more about the plot because that would be a spoiler... but suffice it to say that Theo's life does NOT follow the normal trajectory, not even for someone whose mother died when he was 13.
Overall, a really excellent piece of literature. It's not a beach-read, nor a quick read, nor a plot-driven adventure. But it is engaging and cozy. Somehow, you feel wrapped up in the blanket of Tartt's novel, notwithstanding all the philosophical ponderings and rage and depression.
Definitely recommend... but make sure you have the time!
FOUR of five stars