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The Luminaries Audiobook
The Luminaries
Written by: 
Eleanor Catton
Narrated by: 
Mark Meadows
 >   > 
The Luminaries Audiobook

The Luminaries

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Publisher's Summary

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

What the Critics Say

"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)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.7 (1589 )
5 star
 (487)
4 star
 (496)
3 star
 (319)
2 star
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1 star
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Overall
3.6 (1399 )
5 star
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3 star
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2 star
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1 star
 (122)
Story
4.2 (1373 )
5 star
 (720)
4 star
 (352)
3 star
 (173)
2 star
 (65)
1 star
 (63)
Performance
Sort by:
  •  
    Pontus 02-28-16
    Pontus 02-28-16 Member Since 2014
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    17
    10
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Narration SUPERB. Meadows makes story come alive"

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Elizabeth Chiang Danville, CA United States 02-26-16
    Elizabeth Chiang Danville, CA United States 02-26-16 Member Since 2015
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    14
    1
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    Performance
    Story
    "For Strange+Norrell Lovers, and more-"

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Terri L. Drimel Minnesota 02-25-16
    Terri L. Drimel Minnesota 02-25-16 Member Since 2015

    spinagoodyarn

    ratings
    REVIEWS
    23
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Ten hours into the book and I was bored."
    This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

    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.


    What could Eleanor Catton have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

    Fewer characters with better character development. The plot seemed mired in muck and unable to move forward. Perhaps more editing to reduce the length.


    How could the performance have been better?

    I think the performance suffered more from the content.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    xavier 02-17-16
    xavier 02-17-16

    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.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    6
    ratings
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    14
    10
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    FOLLOWING
    0
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    Performance
    Story
    "I tried"

    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.
    Refund please.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Felicia United States 02-11-16
    Felicia United States 02-11-16 Member Since 2015
    HELPFUL VOTES
    2
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    75
    23
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    FOLLOWING
    0
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    Story
    "Long and drawn out"

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    henhao 02-03-16
    henhao 02-03-16
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    6
    3
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    FOLLOWING
    0
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    Story
    "Epic tale"

    What an epic tale! I feel the need to listen again to capture all I missed!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    M. Grant New Zealand 01-25-16
    M. Grant New Zealand 01-25-16 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
    4
    ratings
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    65
    11
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    FOLLOWING
    0
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    Story
    "Delightful and clever"
    What other book might you compare The Luminaries to and why?

    The Bones of Paris.
    Another delightful twisting story about an age and place that little is written of.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    libbromus San Jose, CA United States 12-27-15
    libbromus San Jose, CA United States 12-27-15 Member Since 2014
    HELPFUL VOTES
    11
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    49
    5
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    1
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    Story
    "Narrator deserves an Oscar!"
    Would you consider the audio edition of The Luminaries to be better than the print version?

    Yes! I read the book when it came out but felt that I couldn't adequately untangle the complex narrative and that I missed a lot. Mark Meadows is absolutely, astonishingly capable of juggling the accents and intonations of dozens of characters, a dozen or so of those being main players. He can do Irish, Scottish, English, Swedish, Chinese, French, men, women, high class, lower class, and more. And none of the characters share HIS voice, the voice of the narrator! Mind blown. He has enriched my understanding of this wonderful novel a thousand fold.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    There are so many characters, and all are incredibly detailed. My favorite sympathetic characters are the Maori, Te Rau Tauwhare, the owner of the Gridiron hotel, Edgar Clinch, and the newspaperman, Benjamin Lowenthal. I also really like the characters of Aubert Gascoigne and Walter Moody.


    Have you listened to any of Mark Meadows’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    No, but what I wouldn't give for him to re-do Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell! The current version is incredibly disappointing. I couldn't even get through it. The multiple, painfully poor narrators of Cloud Atlas could all be masterfully replaced by Mr. Meadows. If Mark Meadows re-did that novel I would pay ANY price to hear it.


    Who was the most memorable character of The Luminaries and why?

    Impossible. There is no solid MAIN character. This is an ensemble effort. The best part of this audiobook is hands-down the narrator.


    Any additional comments?

    If you've read this novel and were left confused or unsure what to think, I highly recommend this audible version. Due to the complexity, I recommend glancing at the Wiki page or reading the first chapter to get a hold of the cast of characters so that you are better able to follow the story.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Atlanta reviewer 11-11-15 Member Since 2015
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    4
    2
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    Story
    "Great experience!"

    This is a very unusual construct. I loved the plot and the writing. The performance was one of the best I have heard!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kathy Nichols Healdsburg, CA United States 11-08-15
    Kathy Nichols Healdsburg, CA United States 11-08-15 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
    11
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    11
    7
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    1
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Unsatisfying Ending"

    This is a story that starts in the middle and ends at the beginning, which is an interesting approach but I found unsatisfying. Because I listened to it, I missed all the technical details and couldn't follow the astrological part at all.

    The beginning was difficult in audio - it was hard to keep track of so many characters, especially given the expansive style of speech of the time. Eventually it was easy to listen to and ultimately I didn't mind the length. I liked the setting - both in place and time - and the story was interesting. But in 30 hours I expected to be more engaged with the people and I wanted to care more about them. So ultimately the story has interesting architecture, but for me lacks heart.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
Sort by:
  • Mrs Sarah Kruschandl
    4/1/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Confusing starter but such a clever plot"
    What made the experience of listening to The Luminaries the most enjoyable?

    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.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    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.


    Which scene did you most enjoy?

    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.


    If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

    There is more hidden in the New Zealand mines than gold.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • lara
    3/30/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Emma
    3/24/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Bad narrator - always listen to the sample!"
    What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

    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.


    What didn’t you like about Mark Meadows’s performance?

    Women's voices in particular were almost pantomine in this performance.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • E. Duffus
    UK
    3/1/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Too long"

    Beautifully written but too long. Still unsure of the bearing of the star signs on the story. Great narration however.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • bibliophile
    England
    2/17/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • T. Dervish
    London
    2/15/15
    Overall
    "Well crafted"

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Squirrel
    southwest UK
    2/15/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Intriguing "Gold rush" crime adventure"
    Would you listen to The Luminaries again? Why?

    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.


    Would you be willing to try another book from Eleanor Catton? Why or why not?

    I'm unsure that I will as she complicated Luminaries with her astrological chart material, and the unusual conversational style worked better in audio.


    Which scene did you most enjoy?

    The original scene in the Hotel Lounge I thought a great introduction, through Walter Moody.


    Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    Not much of an emotional reaction except maybe to Anna's plight.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Kevin Viney
    Somerset
    2/13/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Worth sticking with"

    Although difficult to get into and complex in its structure this novel is hugely rewarding by its end.
    Excellently written.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Tony
    LETCHWORTH GARDEN CITY, United Kingdom
    1/15/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "I'm not sure why I didn't really enjoy this!"

    this book was long. now, I like long books, so that was great. it started well, but then, just as it all came together my brain started asking questions of the plot I couldn't answer. maybe I missed something in the intricate plotting! spoiler alert, with what money did emery stains buy his hotel, or make his way in the world?! he only saw other peoples money going through his fingers, and then buys a hotel from nothing. anyway, I may have missed something, and the writing is good, I liked the style and the character examination. my main complaint is that so many characters were drawn I wanted them all to reach a conclusion of some kind and this didn't happen.. hmmm.. not for me. but give it a go anyway! its definitely a brilliant book!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Ching Huay Yong
    1/13/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Too fragmented story line."

    A tedious one to follow. Story jumps around and crowded with too many characters that really contribute nothing much to the plot.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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