Longlisted – Baileys Women’s Prize 2014
Man Booker Prize, Fiction, 2013
Canadian Governor General's Literary Award, 2013.
It is 1866 and Walter Moody has come to make his fortune upon the New Zealand goldfields. On arrival, he stumbles across a tense gathering of 12 local men, who have met in secret to discuss a series of unsolved crimes. A wealthy man has vanished, a whore has tried to end her life, and an enormous fortune has been discovered in the home of a luckless drunk. Moody is soon drawn into the mystery: a network of fates and fortunes that is as complex and exquisitely patterned as the night sky.
The Luminaries is an extraordinary piece of fiction. Written in pitch-perfect historical register, richly evoking a mid-19th-century world of shipping and banking and goldrush boom and bust, it is also a ghost story, and a gripping mystery. It is a thrilling achievement for someone still in her mid-20s, and will confirm for critics and listeners that Catton is one of the brightest stars in the international writing firmament.
Eleanor Catton was born in 1985 in Canada and raised in New Zealand. She completed an MA in Creative Writing at Victoria University in 2007 and won the Adam Prize in Creative Writing for The Rehearsal. She was the recipient of the 2008 Glenn Schaeffer Fellowship to study for a year at the prestigious Iowa Writers' Workshop in the US and went on to hold a position as Adjunct Professor of Creative Writing there, teaching Creative Writing and Popular Culture. Eleanor won a 2010 New Generation Award. She now lives in Wellington, New Zealand.
©2013 Eleanor Catton (P)2013 Audible Ltd
"The Luminaries is an impressive novel, captivating, intense and full of surprises.” (Times Literary Supplement)
“The Luminaries is a breathtakingly ambitious 800-page mystery with a plot as complex and a cast as motley as any 19th-century doorstopper. That Catton's absorbing, hugely elaborate novel is at its heart so simple is a great part of its charm. Catton's playful and increasingly virtuosic denouement arrives at a conclusion that is as beautiful as it is triumphant.” (Daily Mail)
“It is awesomely - even bewilderingly - intricate. There's an immaculate finish to Catton's prose, which is no mean feat in a novel that lives or dies by its handling of period dialogue. It's more than 800 pages long but the reward for your stamina is a double-dealing world of skullduggery traced in rare complexity. Those Booker judges will have wrists of steel if it makes the shortlist, as it fully deserves.” (Evening Standard),br />“Eleanor Catton is nothing if not ambitious. Her latest novel, longlisted for this year's Man Booker prize, is an 828-page blockbuster. With astonishing intricacy and patient finesse, Catton brings to life the anomalous nature of 19th-century New Zealand.” (Sunday Times)
“Expansive and quite superb. Catton writes with real sophistication and intelligence... with intricate plotting and carefully wrought scenes.” (Scotsman)
“Every sentence of this intriguing tale set on the wild west coast of southern New Zealand during the time of its goldrush is expertly written, every cliffhanger chapter-ending making us beg for the next to begin. The Luminaries has been perfectly constructed as the consummate literary page-turner.” (Guardian)
“For the scale of her ambition and the beauty of its execution, somebody should give that girl a medal.” (Lucy Daniel, Daily Telegraph)
“a truly exciting new writer” (Kate Atkinson)
Absolutely! The author's ability to weave the stories of several complex characters stands out among writers. I felt as if I had been sucked into a swirling whirlpool that drew me deeper and deeper in the the plot.
The final chapter of the book in which all is revealed stands out.
With a book of this length, selecting a single scene as a favorite is virtually impossible.
Anna became my most memorable characters for her depth.
Destined to join that long and distinguished line of celebrated, and unread, novels?
Eleanor Catton is a fine writer, but seemingly steeped in the school of the nineteenth century masters. Her language and skills of prose are evident, but over the heads of the average reader today (I count myself included).
The 'astrology' theme, and the waning/waxing phases of the moon, in which the plot is structured is clearly beyond my ability - and inclination - to comprehend.
Maybe someone from Australia
Cut to the chase...... it droned on forever.
Hard to understand at first but got accustomed
Definitely disappointment. I heard a tv interview and it sounded interesting. I should have paid more attention when she said that it was 3 times as long as contracted and 2 years over due.
I can usually finish a book even if it turns out not to be a favorite but after about 3 hours I could not see that it would ever end.
I liked the book. I got it on a whim and had fun listening to it. (Weirdly, it seemed to want to end in a hurry with a "happily ever after" cliche.
I liked Mark's accents. I have no idea if they are accurate, but they are fun.
A remarkable accomplishment -- no question: the landscape, the history, the twists of the various mysteries. But there was no character that pulled me in, no one I was rooting for, empathizing with, even caring about. The performance, however, was masterful and kept me listening to the end.
I feel a little sorry for anyone who reads the print version because they would be deprived of the enjoyment of Mark Meadows brilliant work. So many varied characters and yet the listener knew exactly who was speaking every time.
In addition, the wonderful language of the book, a vocabulary from the past made one feel that book had been written in 1865! That may not be everyone's cup of tea but I enjoyed it enormously.
Emory Stains, even though he appeared late was refreshingly gentle and open. His appearance seemed to light up the place.
That would be impossible to say. All interpretations were wonderful.
Anna Weatheral because I would like to know more about life for women in that era.
Very long, felt repetitive, many, many minute details to remember. I lost interest.
I tried! The characters are cardboard stick figures and utterly unsympathetic. The author is in love with her own cleverness and is too busy constructing a "Rashomon" type narrative. Stories can be interesting when viewed from different perspectives but twelve perspectives are too many. I just got bored and didn't care enough about the characters to stick it out. Another disappointing Booker Prize read
I like books that I can get into right away. Unfortunately this was not one of those books. The narration wasn't what I expected, and the beginning was way too slow to even continue listening. I thought I'd give it a chance from reading the other reviews...wish I didnt waste my credit.
The explanations at the beginnings of the chapters made me think of an outline, a technique that might help in writing the story but only annoying as part of it.
It got very good reviews, but couldn't hold my attention.
The narrator did a pretty fair job but had little to work with.
I was disappointed overall.
"A really good read"
The number of really good characters and a good plot with plenty of twists
Ann, because she remained true to herself .
"Difficult to follow!"
Yes, just be prepared to give it your full attention!
I very much enjoyed his performance and can honestly say it was faultless from the outset
This book had very good plot and storyline, but it is very in depth and detailed. Not good for a casual listen, as I struggled to follow the storyline throughout. There are a LOT of characters in this book, which also make it a bit tricky.
Otherwise, a good read with enjoyable characters.
"My new favourite listen!"
This book has been an utterly engrossing companion on my daily commute for the past three weeks. Don't be put off by reviews of the (written) book that are critical of the over arching structure and astrological references - in the audio version these irritations may have less effect. The detail of the story has been covered in other reviews, so I won't repeat, except to say that the setting in New Zealand in the 19th Century was new to me and created a convincing backdrop for a cast of characters intent on re-inventing themselves in a new land. I loved the dense layers of interwoven stories and slowly revealed truths (or part truths). I was reminded of both the Victorian style of Elizabeth Gaskell (but not Dickens) and those thick, complex modern fantasy novels, like Joe Abercrombie.
A special mention is due to Mark Meadows for his narration- can't have been easy with so many different accents and personalities to bring to life. (also enjoyed his reading of The Humans.)
"I wouldn't have made it to the end in print form!"
I always approach "prize winners" with caution since most I've found difficult to finish. The audiobook version of this is beautifully read. Each character very distinct and colourful. This made the book entertaining, and I certainly would not have reached the end if I had been reading the actual book!Story and everything else about the book seemed "average". Will look out for other books read by "Mark Meadows".
"I could not get into it"
Anyone who enjoys 10 woods when 1 will suffice. Just over elaborate.
To some extent, yes.
"I lost the will to live after the first hour"
Very descriptive, I'm all for descriptive narrative but there needs to be a story, after the first hour I stopped caring and moved on to another book
"Sorry but I just couldnt get on with it"
two hours in and I still wasnt grabbed by the story, too long winded and although the preformance was professional I found the flat montoone in the reading of it just made sticking with it even harder. I have never abandoned a book before so I am very disapointed.
Not really, but I might think twice about this author again.
Possibly, but I think that if the story got going I wouldnt have minded how he read it. Just a deadly combination in this case.
No idea. Never warmed to any of them sadly.
Good luck if you try listening...maybe it gets better after the first couple of hours? I dont know.
Although I thoroughly enjoyed listening to this book and couldn't wait to the next section to see what happens, I was a little disappointed with the ending. It seemed to hang without a definitive answer.
The characters who intertwined with eachother
I found Luminaries quite difficult to get into. It was rather long winded and although the story overall was good, I don't think I would re-visit this book.
Maybe there were just too many characters to contend with and unlike reading a book its not easy to flick back to the list of characters listed at the beginning.
Yes I have no problem with the narrator.
Only to put New Zealand on my list of must visits.
"A well woven web of inter relating stories"
This is a complex story with many colourful characters. The 'book' starts off with a list of the characters names and their jobs. It is well worth noting these down as there are a lot of characters right from the start (you can actually see this page if you go to amazon) . I love how the narrator portrays the wide range of characters. The story jumps about in time and you have to keep your wits about you. Well worth the effort to find out how all these characters are tied into the story.
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