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)
Yes, I loved the author's use of words and style.
The well-rounded characters and humor, along with the mystery story and unexpected twists.
No, but I will again --he is amazing; his use of accents and tone are awe-inspiring.
Too many to mention.
If you love stories with interesting characters and slow-developing but well reasoned plots read this!
Really enjoyed this book, the characters and the history BUT after finishing I did some research and realized I had missed a lot by not being able to see the drawings and understanding the correlation between the stars and the story.
Anna Wetherell and Emery Staines taking drugs together! The ending was sort of a shock when it happened; I didn't expect it.....not the action of the ending, just the end of the book. I didn't expect it to end when it did, thought I'd made a mistake in listening.
I don't remember. He was terrific.
Anna. She was sort of a mystery all along. Some characters I just don't remember and/or what part they played in the story.
This book grew on me. I couldn't believe it would carry it self for so long, but in the end, it did. I MISS the characters; loved the main ones in particular, and had no idea I would. We traveled in NZ two years ago so knowing the geography (we were in all the places mentioned) was very fun. Also imagining a gold rush in a country other than the U.S. was interesting; I'd never read about one elsewhere. I was surprised whoring/a whore were so casually accepted there too. Also loved that Eleanor Catton, such a YOUNG WOMAN writer, could get into the heads of men like she did; brilliant, and, also that at her age she could write as insightfully as she did. Highly recommended despite the fact I didn't like it until probably the middle. I love audiobooks for that reason, I almost always give them a good long chance.
I read a lot, and when I can't read, I listen to books. This has a wonderful narrator, but the story is so slow and repetitive that by a few hours into it, I didn't care about any of the characters or the mystery the author was trying to develop. Any comparisons to Dickens are misplaced. This book is pure tedium.
If it weren't for Audible I'd never get any reading done.
The Luminaries is a great read for anyone who enjoys 19th-century British novels. Catton's prose is of a decidedly Victorian bent, beautiful descriptions spilling out as a Wilkie Collins-type plot unfolds. Now, I read the Woman in White recently and ended up angry at its cheap coincidences, but The Luminaries doesn't have any of those. For most of the book it's very funny and a real page turner, even with its formal prose style. There's also a fascinating portrayal of early New Zealand society, which indeed was the author's aim.
What it does have is a weird structure in which little pieces of the whole plot drip out for 800pp., followed by a rush to the finish that doesn't even answer all the reader's questions. Upon finishing I went online and was both relieved and annoyed to find that the unexplained pieces of the plot are just that. There's also an astrological theme throughout that I confess I couldn't follow (even looking at the charts at the head of each section in the print book, which the audiobook of course omits).
Mark Meadows may be the very best narrator I've ever listened to, as he switches effortlessly through a variety of British, Scottish and Irish accents.
Without the "magic". It seemed like an unexplained solution to what could have been a really good story.
I would have had him not read the longitudinal coordinates. It was very off-putting in an audio book. I wanted to get rid of the book in the first 5 minutes.
It was a well woven story that got clunky at the end and left me feeling disappointed that I spent 30 hours listening to it.
Not really. I don't know anyone who has this much spare time! This a nice story with some interesting characters, set in an interesting time in New Zealand. Unfortunately the author wants to dazzle us with clever prose and structure. It comes off as repetitive, pretentious and unnecessarily 'clever'. To me it comes off as a little hollow.
The pursuit of Francis Carver by Chinaman Ah Kwee is an interesting subplot. Unfortunately we get it about 6 times.
Mark Meadows got me over the line. His performance is mind boggling. How he manages to keepa ll those characters going is admirable.
Listen to a shorter book next time...it goes for nearly 30 hours!
It's a nice little story. Pity the author could not hold back her ambition.
This is a beautiful, complex story. The narrator managed to keep it pacy and distinguished the characters brilliantly. I was engaged through all the twenty something hours of it, which is really quite a feat for a narrator.
The plot is so intricate, you'll want to concentrate to keep track of it, but it's so clever, I was amazed it was her first novel.
Yes--the variety of voices and accents made the book even more interesting and less difficult to follow.
No, but will search for him.
If there is an academy award for audible books, then Mark Meadows should get one for this.
I cannot stress enough what a good book this was - or how outstanding the narrator's performance was.
"OMG, I'll listen again when I've recovered"
Massively complex tale, after one listening, I'm not sure I caught it all! And one day when I've recovered from this mammoth story, I'll listen again to pick up the bits that slipped by unnoticed. The narrator did a sterling job with voicing an intimidating number of characters, except Te Rau Te Whare, I don't know what accent we were going for here??
Anyway, don't buy this book if you were planning getting anything done for the next week, once you start, you won't want to stop until you've worked out what the hells going on.
I would recommend this gripping story. Its involved, complicated but clear with beautifully constructed characters brilliantly read.
The length and consistent tension- it was relentless, didn't give you a break in wanting to know what happened next...
His way of giving each character a distinctive voice- clear but not annoyingly obvious.
A tale of pure gold in a new world of hardship, intrigue and loyalty.
It was brilliant and I am bereft now its finished!
"extraodinary reading of a maze-like novel"
this is an amazing reading by Mark Meadows - so many distinct and different voices captured and held clearly in the listener's mind. the only advantage in reading the book would be to be able to track back the extraordinary plot to its origins - as it is (or seems to be) a novel which swoops round to the beginning at the end....
all the incidents involving the Maori character.
his astonishing ability with different characters and their accents and their languages!
some of the moments with Anna towards the end
an amazing book to listen to.
Shaggy dog story
Convoluted plot that interlinked all the characters. I also like the setting. Loved the modern take on a Victorian novel - very Wilkie Collins
perfect - I don't think I could have managed this book without the voices all being appropriate and different for each of the 12 main characters
don't let the 28 hours put you off - I wondered if I could survive but there are summaries dotted throughout!
"A brilliantly written book with a very clever plot"
I thoroughly enjoyed listening to it again, but would not wish to re-read.
Emery Staines was a charismatic character.
No, but I would like to….very talented.
Took a little while to get into, and a slightly unsatisfactory ending, leaving questions unanswered but otherwise a masterpiece! A worthy award winner.
"Beautifly crafted and well though out"
No, it's a good book but just not as capativating as I would have hoped
Mark Meadows is a brilliant narrator and delivers the book wonderfully
"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".
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