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 audiobooks I've listened to.
Mark Meadows managed the difficult task of so many characters and varied accents with consumate skill.
Books are an integral part of my mental health, intellectual stimulation and social networking!
I really wanted to enjoy this book as it sounded so interesting from the descriptions as well as other reviews. I first tried to read the actual hard copy of this book, that was not working. I found myself unmotivated to read the amount of text to get to the story! Then I tried the audio approach and found myself drifting often. I made it through about 30% of the book before I decided to take a break. Maybe I will finish it someday. The narration was fine; it was just the amount of words I had to process to understand the meaning!
The plot was moderately intriguing and I do want to know about the remainder of the story, but the style of writing was a bit cyclical for me. I do appreciate novels that the writing is part of the process and thought that this was going be the same with this book. Maybe if there was a more intriguing onset to the story, it would have kept my interest.
Also, this won the Man Booker award......not sure what that really means anymore. I might not be so interested in reading the next winner of that award next time.
...to justify overly complex structure of over-lapping plot lines. The ending wasn't so much an anticipated insight or understanding, but a relief I kinda sorta got what had happened.
Right now, I've started "The Burgess Boys" and am enjoying it.
I'm not sure why this book was so well received. I have tried several times to "stay with it" but am finally giving up. The story line is not engaging and I don't care for the reader.
Yes. The performance made this book interesting and compelling. As did the writing.
I think the story did not need the Astrology. I missed the point of the Astrology, maybe something lost in listening rather than reading. However we picked this book for a book club and I was the only one who finished and liked it, I believe it was directly because I listened to it instead of reading. It would be very tedious to read.
This is one of the best books I've ever read, and, as a bibliophile, I do not say this lightly. Murder, revenge, love, deceit, betrayal, dastardly characters, innocent and charming characters; an epic, cinematic novel.
I have no doubt that Eleanor Catton's novels will become future classics, staples on every book lover's bookshelf. I have already recommended this to numerous friends, who are unanimously in awe of Catton's genius.
Listening to The Luminaries being read by Mark Meadows was an exquisite joy. Meadows as a narrator is unmatched, in my opinion. He switches seamlessly between a vast range of accents, the most impressive of which are probably Maori, Chinese, Norwegian, and German, although the spectrum of his English accents is amazing.
Emery Staines. I've never read a character quite like him. You can't help but be charmed and bewitched by him.
I loved listening to his performance of Harald Nilsson in particularly. Such a subtle accent.
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, 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!
"A great story but over long"
No, it's too big a commitment with not enough payback
A bit lack luster
The priest was very likable
The story only really got going in parts 2 and 3 which were really enjoyable.
It takes too long to get going, but once it did it was great. Lots of depth in both story and characters. Really enjoyable, how evert he ending was too drawn out, leaving a taste of disappointment to something that could have been great.
Sorry to say, this book was boring! No beginning, no middle, no end. And endless stream of detailed stories.
"Well Read But..."
Terrible slow story I'm afraid. I gave up half way through. A massive cast all of whom seem to be relating a story that's already happened at a monotonous pace and about whom I failed to care. I got stared at for screaming "Get on with it" as I walked around listening to this tripe.
"Probably the best audio book I've listened to."
Mesmerising. Fascinating. Brilliant.
The history. Beautifully researched and excellently written to make everything utterly real, it made me want to go over and explore New Zealand and all the places mentioned in the story.
No, but he's brilliant! And it's performance that makes this book so special for me. His genius with juggling so many and often complex voices allowed the story to shine though. I have no doubt I personally would have got a bit bogged down if I was actually reading this one myself.
The sheer scale of this novel moved me, it is enormous and epic and takes you away on the most amazing journey back in time whilst making it seem very real. I honestly felt I was there with the characters.
Listen to it.
"You can almost forget it's literary fiction"
I normally steer clear of Booker winners and literary fiction because I often find them too pompous and self-important. However, this was a very good and complex story, told and woven among approximately 20 different characters. It was part murder mystery, part court-room drama, and a perfect period piece. I admit that listening to it rather than reading it, I may have missed quite a lot of the astrological significance, but that didn't matter too much overall.
No particular favourite.
The courtroom scene.
No - it's 29 hours!
I found this book very difficult to get into at first, but it was worth persevering. The narrator was good and differentiated the characters well, but initially I found the number of characters a bit confusing. It took me a good 2-4 hours to get into it - almost to the point where the initial scene with the 13 men in a room got up to real time. But I'm glad I stuck with it.
"Fantastical Story Weaving"
A magical trip into the New Zealand gold rush, through one of the most carefully thought out books that I've yet read. The story is woven together with such precision that it leaves you guessing, piecing elements and characters together, and revelling in the rich language.
The narrator played a large part in making the book - with so many characters and dialogues, his accents and characterisation of the each of the players brought the book to life.
At times the tempo faltered slightly, and was a little drawn out, but in restrospect these sections of the book developed the persona of each of the characters more richly.
Go and get it!
"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!
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