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)
Based on all the great reviews I had really high hopes for this book but I just did something I have never done before. I turned this book off and there is no way I am finishing it. After nearly 5 hours it has gone no where, and accomplished nothing!
In addition to the painfully slow plot line, the narrator is so monotonous I want to stick red hot pokers in my ears.
I know that a lot of people liked this book and that my one sour review is not likely to sway anyone from listening to it but don't say I didn't tell you so if you decide to embark on this perilous journey through tedium.
The prose is wonderful and the narration is faultless but the story is just too slow to keep me interested in returning to it.
Only my stubbornness in never abandoning a book made me listen to the bitter end. I love long books, but the only thing that deserved a star was the narrator. The bouncing back and forth was often unclear and confusing, and constant astronomical and astrological references made no sense and contributed nothing. The trial was interesting, but that's about it. The ending was terrible. What a disappointment!
Buried under the ridiculous number of introductions and characters is a plot that can even at times be compelling. Beyond that there are not many redeeming qualities.
It is brilliantly written. No doubt about it. There are streaks of genius and of insight. However, the center of gravity which the listener invests so much time to find is missing. This is a beautifully created house of cards.
Lover of historical fiction. I have turned to audiobooks to supplement scare reading time, amidst a busy job and parenting.
I love historical fiction so this was a great find. The tale is complex. I recommend having both the audio and print versions on hand. At times I needed to refer back to the print text when I'd not grasped the intricacies of the plot. The diversity of characters is brought alive by the outstanding narration by Mark Meadows. I would put this book among my top ten favourite works of historical fiction. This gem stands out against the predictable and too often sentimental books which populate the best seller lists. Sit back and enjoy!
I loved the story, which dips forward and backward. It is exceptionally well-written, authentic language for the time period. Good story, unusual. I am not sure what I liked more the story or the narration. Mark Meadows has an incredible back for changing accents! Thoroughly enjoyable and entertaining.
If I were to take a character out to dinner I think it would have to be Emery Staines. He sounds like a charming, inquisitive young man.
"rather complicated for audio"
I perhaps should have know it would be difficult as audio. next time paperback
"Good yet frustrating."
I did enjoy this book and it was read well, however maybe it works better as text. It took so long to get into as the story is told by each cat artery point of view in turn for the beginning, so if you lose concentration for a second you don't know who's speaking, the story finally unravells in the second half.
Loved it! Bit confusing at first, but worked it out in the end. Definitely worth a look. Enjoy...
"Complicated and yet..."
Great performance and accents. You can easily distinguish between different characters.
I came across this book a while ago but didn't purchase it for some months because of mixed reviews that it’s been given. Sometimes I like long reads/listens though, so finally I decided to "take a punt" and get it. I started listening, somewhat apprehensively at first.
Initially it was very confusing, but slowly the characters, motives, ideas and connections started making sense.
Persevere and the book starts coming together. It is one of the most interesting novels I ever came across. So different and at the same time unexpectedly interesting is the plot that I enjoyed getting back into it time and time again.
Perhaps this is not a right comparison but the story is like a making of spider's webs with the characters being different types of silk, perhaps different nets and the threads and spiral coming all together in the middle.
A great book, wonderfully read by Mark Meadows. I was caught up in the story although sometimes I lost the thread as the author moved around in time. Every character's back story was brilliantly told. A fabulous evocation of life in the 19th century and why we run away to find our luck on the other side of the world.
Interestingly I am not sure I liked any of them very much - they all had weaknesses, none very likeable.
Each scene was quite short so hard to pick a favourite one. But the perils of arriving by ship was well described.
It sometimes took me by surprise.
"So well thought through"
Though this is slow to start, it is well worth persevering. The tangled threads are drawn together masterfully.
"A slow burn but in the end I didn't want to stop"
The narrator is as good as it gets. Really challenging range of characters, a lot of chopping and changing between them - he manages to give each one an distinct identity without being hammy. Class act.
No! It's very very very long. But the way it is structured meant that it was easy to take in episodes and in the end I listened to it over many days. Unlike some other reviewers, I felt it is cleverly constructed and the narrative is like peeling away layers. That means it really lends itself to being listened to in instalments, because you don't lose the thread of so many characters. It became a companion - I felt a bit lonely when it ended!
I was fascinated by the setting - place and time. I felt like I learned a lot as well as enjoying a strong narrative that is not short on wit.
"Unsatisfying and confusing"
The book is a mystery so it comes as no surprise that some people and actions are hidden but the end of the book does little to clear away the fog. The writing is peculiar, with characters holding centre stage before vanishing into the ether with no explanation. What is frustrating is that there is undoubtedly a good story to be told but this book is in great need of considerable editing, rewriting and restructuring to tell it.
The narrator was simply superb but he was wasted on this dog's breakfast.
"Certainly clever (and long) but was it good?"
I really really wanted to love this book. It's so cleverly structured and the premise is excellent, but it was so so long (with some extremely flabby parts) that I really found the second half a chore. I am left wondering whether it was worth it out not....
However, the narration was first class, so if you've got the time, go for it.
"Definitely worth persevering"
I have read this book once, listened once, and will go through it again for the pleasure of exploring a few of the many vistas of knowledge it opens up. Once I had reconciled myself to the fact the book offers a spare and dispassionate account, rather than inducing emotional connections, I loved the structural intricacies of the story and the galactic dance of the characters.
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