By Cynthia Hornig – I love nothing more than hunkering down with a good, meaty book and spending time with characters that take me on a journey, whatever the course may be.

I’m not particularly selective or snobby when it comes to choosing books for my reading list. A self-proclaimed book glutton, I consume a large variety and can be equally entertained by a historical biography as I am a trashy novel, whatever my mood calls for.

GoldfinchCoverTypically, I have an affinity for strong female characters who defy the odds in life and in love, many times both. But, when the bestseller, The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt (which features a male protagonist) kept popping up on reading lists and in discussions with friends, I thought “I am an equal opportunity reader”, and downloaded it… that was 24 days and 771 pages ago.

The Goldfinch, tells the story of thirteen-year-old Theo Decker, who survives a terrorist attack on a NYC museum that kills his mother. In the midst of the chaos, Theo steals a famous painting, “The Goldfinch,” by the Dutch painter Carel Fabritius, setting the stage for the epic story to unfold.

And EPIC it is, so much so, that I cannot even think about writing a review about it. I don’t remember ever being so conflicted about a book before. I wanted to love it, but didn’t hate it, still pining for more, but so relieved it’s finally over.

So, before you commit to making Theo and rest of The Goldfinch characters a part of your family for the next several weeks, here are the

5 Things You Should Know Before Reading The Goldfinch

1. If you want to read The Goldfinch because it’s a story rooted in the “underworld  of art”, as the book jacket describes, don’t. It is not.

2. Reader be warned: this book is outrageously descriptive; you can visualize it, smell it and taste it, which is not always a good thing.

3. Just when you think you are nearing the end, you will only be half way through.

4. It took Donna Tartt a decade to write this 771 page story, but she must have finally hit a wall, because the story wraps up fairly quickly, albeit incompletely, in the last 70 pages.

5. This is a sad and compelling story, one that will stay with you, and torture you well after “The End”.

Cynthia Hornig is Co-Founder and Editorial Director of Women You Should Know.