“Bad artists copy, good artists steal.” Toward the end of this novel, Hobie, the elderly painter of masterpiece copies, says this to Theo, his sorta-kinda adopted son. Is it ironic that Theo has stolen a famous painting, The Goldfinch? This long, convoluted, powerful novel tells the story of a young boy whose life was transformed at age 13 by this random act.
And a random bombing in the art galleries of New York’s Metropolitan Museum that killed his mother. Theo’s mom had left him to buy a present in the museum store when the bombing happened. After the blast, Theo crawls amid bodies on the floor to find one older man alive. With some of his last breaths, the man points to the painting and says, “I beg of you.” Theo interprets this as a plea to rescue it. The dying man Welty also gives the boy an elaborate ring and the name of a business in Manhattan: Hobart and Blackwell. “Ring the green bell.”
Thus begins the travels/travails of Theo. His dad, an alcoholic is alive, but in no shape to care for him. Ditto for his one surviving grandparent.