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)
One of the best
The separate story lines build the tension but do not come together until the end so it holds your attention until the end.
Great narration although his pronunciation of some of the place names was unusual.
No I needed to come up for air occasionally
A great story told in a way that kept me fully engaged and interested until the end.
Wine, food and travel writer, editor, and aspiring novelist.
Mark Meadows is amazing, voicing more than a dozen characters so distinctly that it was like listening to an ensemble cast. His accents run the gamut from Scottish, to Irish, the various regional and class distinctions of England, Maori, Australian, Chinese, men and women, young and old. I only kept listening because of the narrator.
The book is Dickensian in scope and 19th Century in narrative style, which befits the subject, but it needed a good editor. The writing is very good, but the story jumps around in time to no purpose, and is numbingly repetitive. The last quarter of the book does little more than show in action what we already know from hearsay and narration, and leaves a few loose ends that would have given a more satisfying resolution.
This is richly detailed work of fiction with beautifully drawn characters and an elaborate plot.
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.
"Keep your wits about you - characters abound!"
There are a couple of things I took an immediate dislike to: the introduction, the ending and the way the chapters are introduced. But that to one side I enjoyed the method of the plot being revealed, the range of characters and Mark Meadow's delivery is legendary. The story is a basic one of murder in a small gold mining town but the way the small sub-plots are inter-woven, backwards and forwards with a "cast of thousands" is fascinating.
"A long one but worth sticking with."
If like me, you have time to sit and listen, I drive over 2 hours a day this book is a good listen, Im not sure whether if you listen to a book periodically this is the one for you.
The feel of the story, a gold rush in New Zealand... not something you hear about every day.
The narration was impeccable, defined characters and never dull.
"Excellent First Audiobook"
Definitely, a well-woven plot, an interesting bunch of characters and an excellent narrator.
All characters were read with very distinctive and diverse accents which is no mean achievement with such a large number of characters.
This is a long book but one which I was keen to listen to whenever possible and so got through it very quickly.
For the first couple of chapters I thought I'd made a mistake with this book but the more I listened, the more it came alive.It is certainly a complex plot and you need to concentrate to keep track of the characters and gradually revealing background story but the excellent narration made it much easier to keep track. I was so sorry to reach the end that I started all over again which helped to pick up those subtleties in the story that passed me by on the first reading. An excellent introduction to the beauty of a well-narrated audiobook.
"Worth keeping going eventually, confusing at times"
Enjoyed the story eventually but it took a while to get into, very confusing at times,felt like I should take notes that I could refer to as the book went on,even when I finished listening if it had been a paperback I would have skimmed through to clarify some points. Not a book to listen to when in bed when you are likely to drop off, as you will miss vital information.
Kept you thinking with the twists and turns.
Probably would have enjoyed more in paperback because it's easier to go back
"Beautiful writing, but in need of a red pen!"
I loved the Victorian style and tone of the writing in The Luminaries, but it needed some attention from a good editor. The first half of the book meandered around, and the same story is told through the eyes of the many characters in the book. Quite a clever technique for the first few characters, but by the time you'd reached the twelfth telling of the same story it got a bit tiring. The second half of the book was much "tighter" and the story picked up sufficient pace to make me stick with it till the end.
Overall, the plot is good (if you forgive the repetitiveness of the first half) and the performance by Mark Meadows (narrator) is excellent. I will look out for other audible downloads read by him.
"Enjoyed it but......."
Yes. But would like a cast list to hand if as many characters.
Yes, as there are unanswered questions. What happens next. How does the prison sentence go.
What happens to Anna etc
The narrator kept his performances with same voices for each character throughout helping to remember who's bit it was.
It was long not a problem but you can't flick back to what date you are hearing about etc. also you can't skip any gory bits but you could in a paperback.
This was a really slow start and only really got truly engrossing after about 8 hours! Mark Meadows was great at the voices and keeping the characters distinctive to one another.
"Genuinely great writing. Truly terrible titling."
Have already done so.
Descriptions, sights, sounds, risk-taking, research, Maori language spoken persuasively, compassion, depth, respect ... so many things.
No. Comparison therefore impossible, but I can say he was wonderful. I felt for his obvious discomfort with the meaningless planet 'n sign-lumbered chapter titles when he read out ' Aquarius in Saturn'; possibly as gentle protest but presumably in error!
I was deeply moved by so many things understood and penned so beautifully by such a young writer.I was, however, almost overwhelmingly sad that such a wonderful book will just not be read by many discriminating readers as a result of the irritating and fatuous astrological references. Being myself, both an astrologer and a writer, I purchased the book out of great curiosity, fanned not least by the fact that it had won this most prestigious award. Readers' accounts don't seem to mention the profoundly un-illuminating qualities of the planetary, geophysical and clock-chiming nuggets which jarred my own progress so regularly along the way. What did they really think?
I am, even so, giving the book to my (seriously discriminating) children for Xmas. They would naturally find (even apt) astrological references extremely off-putting. So they will be issued with instructions to ignore them completely and, even so, expect to enjoy the book as much as they would enjoy a Dickens masterpiece; which is what I really think has, indeed, been achieved.
"a wonderful world of characters"
Like any good book the characters take a while to settle in the mind, but once they do they will be very difficult to forget, even when the book is over. The world they inhabit is as brooding as the characters, and their intertwining stories allow the plot to unravel in a very sophisticated way.
What's best are the characters and how each is revealed to the listener.
With a room of 12 men it could be difficult to place all the different characters - yet Mark Meadow's manages to make each distinct.
Rough winds, rough men, rough times.
"Gripping and original"
Hold your attention throughout and the author uses some very original devices. The characters are well defined and human, one can feel empathy and sympathy for their plight. Entertainingly told.
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