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)
When I first listen to this story, I want site if I'd enjoy it. There's a lot of characters (hard to keep track of in the beginning) and they plot seemed dry... but as I kept listening the more intricately the plot began to unfold. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and the narration. The plot is slowly peeled away in layers, from the perspectives of numerous characters. Very interesting and highly recommended.
I am not sure I would have actually read this book. Much of it is dialogue and there are many characters to keep straight. The skillful narration & spot-on accents however, transformed this story into a mesmerizing tale. I recommend the audible version of this book to everyone I know!
Mark Meadows is the best narrator I have heard ever (I go through about 3-4 books/month). He does accents and voices like I have never heard anywhere else. From brittish upper and working class, french, german, irish, scottish, chinese and maori to women and men with soft or strong or shrude voices - it is a pure joy to listen to nearly 30 hours of fictional tale.
The era, world and ambience that Eleanor Catton creates as the backrop for her story through an abundance of detail and use of old language and interesting charactees and dialogue kept me enchanted. How can someone write this well in their 20's, I wonder?
The only thing I struggled with was the slow pace of the story, and my own need to try to figure out how to categorize this book. I never really figured out how the title, coordinates, planets and signs fit into the plot...and was this a murder mystery, treasure story, love story, new age stuff...? Still, cudos to both Eleanor and Mark. Good job.
Faux-Victorian gold rush story that's not so much a mystery, but an artfully complex and tight story about something like 20 characters that revolve, as do celestial bodies around a Sun, around a pair of unlikely protagonists. It's not primarily a love story, as I was led to believe, in the same way that Susanna Clarke's Strange and Norrell contains lovers, but is decidedly not romantic.
Literary amateur astrologists will adore this book; as will anyone with a soft spot for mild magic and mild romance. Living in this world was very, very fun.
I don't know who would enjoy this book. I can usually find some reason to finish a book but I was unwilling to commit any more time to the book.
Fewer characters with better character development. The plot seemed mired in muck and unable to move forward. Perhaps more editing to reduce the length.
I think the performance suffered more from the content.
I listen while driving,(alone), and while on break at work. I used to read several books a week. I belonged to Science Fiction Book Club.
I gave this book four hours of my time, the first hour I found myself nodding off. I quit listening,because I wasn't giving the book a fair shake if I was that sleepy, I tried again later for another three hours. I quit, the story line wasn't bad, but it was really boring, maybe because it was set in one room, with people recounting what had happened. More of a play, certainly not fast paced.
This book sounded great but I feel like it could have been told in a third as many pages and it would have been much better. The way the story was finally all out together at the end was not great either. Listening to it probably made it more difficult because I couldn't skim over parts that weren't important. I still feel like some of the story is completely unresolved.
"One heck of a performance!"
So many characters convincingly voiced by one man- incredible!
The story was very long but held my attention throughout - I do feel like I missed something though, the ending didn't tie everything up neatly enough!
"Almost regretted, now repent!"
I read alot of the reviews even though this book was recommended by my dad. I initally was gutted I had bought it as the reviews were not all that good complaining of mixed up timeline, too many names etc. Tosh! Its a brilliant book. Its a convoluted story I grant but as it ties up its delicious nuggets of fun info that makes the beginning even better than it was first time. Its a murder mystery, a history of mining and a look at the late 1800's. I love it, super characters and each one is recognisable by the voice they are given. Excellent narration he's a real gem!
"Confusing starter but such a clever plot"
I would have given up on this book had I been reading it. The plot is so cleverly constructed that it is only near the end that the novel feels satisfying. Upon finishing it I wanted to start again - i don't feel like that about many books. A work of genius.
It took a while to warm to many of the characters. I don't want to say who my favourite character was - it would be a spoiler.
On reflection the first scene is the one that is most interesting. All the characters are together. As you get to know their secrets throughout the novel, it was this first scene I came back to.
There is more hidden in the New Zealand mines than gold.
"Great story and historical insight"
Excellent book and a magnificent, consistent reading. Quite unusual mystery with some wonderful insight into the New Zealand goldfields on the remote west coast of the south Island.
"Bad narrator - always listen to the sample!"
The narrator was very dry and read with very little character. It was difficult to listen to him for any length of time as his voice was quite boring. Because of this (and because it was such a long story) I struggled to finish the book and didn't follow the plot well at all.
Women's voices in particular were almost pantomine in this performance.
Beautifully written but too long. Still unsure of the bearing of the star signs on the story. Great narration however.
"Excellent performance but.."
Meadows' performance was excellent, with clear delineation of characters and a wide range of accents sustained throughout. The plot ultimately disappoints, as the astrological conceit is the driving force.
Cleverly constructed and eloquently executed story. I liked the astrological headings and complex weaving of characters. Very educational too. Never really knew much about the New Zealand gold rush before.
"Intriguing "Gold rush" crime adventure"
The intoxicating mix of voice tone, character motive and strange setting kept me wanting more- like the train journey I was on, I sped through this audio book whereas the great tome of a book had been off putting.
I'm unsure that I will as she complicated Luminaries with her astrological chart material, and the unusual conversational style worked better in audio.
The original scene in the Hotel Lounge I thought a great introduction, through Walter Moody.
Not much of an emotional reaction except maybe to Anna's plight.
"Worth sticking with"
Although difficult to get into and complex in its structure this novel is hugely rewarding by its end.
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