Novel New York
by Jessica Allen, 04/01/2014
The Metropolitan Museum of Art photo by Marley White • "The Goldfinch" (2013), by Donna Tartt courtesy Little, Brown and Company
Any itinerary based on Donna Tartt's best-selling novel must begin at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where the life of her young protagonist, Theo Decker, changes forever. Of course, you could spend hours here, at one of the largest museums in the world, or you could concentrate on the European paintings on the second floor—where, in the novel, Decker winds up stealing Carel Fabritius' The Goldfinch. (Alas, you won't find the painting there in real life, since it hangs at Mauritshuis museum in The Hague when it's not traveling on temporary loan.) Theo and his mother live on East 57th Street, and Theo resides for a time on Park Avenue in the Upper East Side, so completists might want to stroll along those residential blocks. Otherwise, take the subway to the main branch of the New York Public Library, where Tartt researched and wrote chunks of the novel in the Allen Room (which is only accessible to writers with publishing contracts). Back on the subway, get out in Greenwich Village and stop for a meal at Elephant & Castle, a New American restaurant where Theo ate with his mom. Spend some time meandering along West 10th Street, but don't bother looking for the antiques store where Theo lives with the kooky Hobie (the store's proprietor) and his beautiful ward—it doesn't exist. Last but not least, celebrate the reunion of Theo and his old friend Boris at a Polish bar on Second Avenue by grabbing a drink or bowl of borscht at Little Poland (200 Second Ave., between 12th and 13th Sts., 212-777-9728).