Last night I finished reading The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt. It's a tome, but once you get into it you never want it to end. Stepping back, it's not so much about the painting as it is about dealing with grief and medicating the pain. It's an unflinching look into our drug and alcohol culture.
Tartt took ten years to write her novel and it's easy to see why. She did in-depth research that left me torn between wanting to get on with the story and wanting to find out what this word meant or how that phrase translated -- or just to find out more about a casual reference.
It could take years probably to go back and sniff out every tangent and every bit of background. It's a challenge, but if you go with the emotional drift -- it's the core, the human element that got her the Pulitzer: Why are we here and what does it all mean?
Did she figure it out? I'd say she posed the right questions. Very central to the story-- the bird is chained to its perch. We can't escape our reality?