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)
This book requires a commitment of time and attention, but these are well rewarded.
The writer takes her leisurely time, and if you do too you will develop a cinematic picture of life on the gold fields in New Zealand. Moving back and forth in time, the story unravels and knits back up, each time with a few more pieces in place. I am ALMOST tempted to begin again from the beginning just to enjoy how deftly the author does it.
The book is amazingly read. Each character is given his or her own voice, so there is no doubt about who is speaking. If I have any quibble at all it is that a bit of the comic timing could have been improved. That said, I'd gladly spend more time with this reader.
Lawyer, reader, writer, performer. Just love listening to books and talking about it!
So disappointed about this one, another Booker Prize winner that is not for me. I was frustrated because the writing seemed to not be as tight as it should have been. Yet, the author clearly knew what she was doing. What gives? Well I looked at the reviews and information on it -- another gimmick. Each chapter half the length of the other? Not for me. In the style of Wilkie Collin's (who was Dickens' best friend and who wrote The Woman in White, which I loved), well that is for me, but not with the gimmick. Why not just write a good book? Hopefully next time.
A great story read by a fantastic narrator. I loved the complexity and the way that the character development was woven into the unravelling thread of the mystery.
The build up was a little slow to start and the denouement was somewhat unnecessary since the author did such a great job of telling the story and developing the characters that a discerning reader should have already known all that was revealed in the denouement.
Literary aficionados may love this book, both the writer and her achievements inspired me to take on this book. I have tried both with Kindle and Audio but I just found it extremely boring.
No, I read a lot of historical fiction style books and will continue to.
Mark performed well.
Maybe like one of those movies that everyone talks up you enter with higher expectation. Every time I checked into this story it felt like work.
I didn't know what to expect from this book, especially because I knew I'd be missing an important part of the book with it being an audio instead of paper book. I browsed the printed copy and saw the star charts and astrological information that I'd miss out on with the audio version. For that reason, it took me a long time to start the book. But as soon as I did, I was drawn in.
This book reads like a classic Victorian-era novel. I felt like I was reading a new and fresh Dickens or Hardy novel. It has a deep and satisfying plot with as many twists, turns, hills, and gullies as the New Zealand landscape in which it is set. The opening drops you right in the middle of the intrigue, as the opening character, Walter Moody, stumbles upon a secret society. The detailed and florid descriptions of the events, the characters, and the setting were reminiscent of David Copperfield or Far from the Madding Crowd. Dickens is my favorite author, so I enjoyed the writing immensely.
I don't feel like I missed out on anything with not having the star charts and astrology right in front of me to reference. I still was able to enjoy the overall theme of the characters being guided and almost controlled by their "destinies" as outlined in the heavens. The ending is a satisfying one because of it's inevitability, not necessarily because it's a "happy" or "sad" ending.
I recommend this book to anyone - especially Victorian literature lovers!
Originally I got this as an audiobook as I struggled with how big it was. However after completing this work of art, it will forever live as one of my favorite books. Cartons detailed world was so well crafted and,within this reading, thrown into life.
I like words - even the ones I don't know yet
An engrossing mystery
This story unfolds so naturally becoming clearer and more complex all the while: It's meticulously crafted.
Meadows is truly brilliant and I was especially impressed how nimble he is jumping between characters.
A Chinaman, a Scotsman, a land baron, a journalist, a mystic, a chemist, a politician, an opium-fuelled prostitute and a dead body: You figure it out.
This is a good book made better by its narration. The structure and subject are both novel. The narrator gives the story a pace and an interest that I didn't find while reading it myself
It is very well written and has lots of depth, but as others have said its slower than slow.
I struggled with this book and for the first time in 5 years of listening to audio books, I wished I'd had the abridged version, as I really don't think you would miss anything.
Mark Meadows narration of the many characters in this book was excellent, and each was distinctive from their speech
"Too much plot - too little purpose"
I would to someone looking for terrifically written and complicated narrative - but it's a lot of work - I mean a long book, and one wonders why, after it all.
Irrelevant question - hardly anything to do with the merits of the title
This is one of the best plotted and carefully crafted works of fiction I've read in a long time, but where is the engagement? There's hardly anyone one cares about - almost like reading history of dead people. Ian McKewen's much shorter little masterpiece, The Children Act, accomplishes so much more in terms of moral complexity, character and revelation than this very long book comes close to
"I absolutely cannot fathom why people like this."
Clearly plenty of other people loved this book but I found it incredibly frustrating. Dull, slow, relentless, overly descriptive, pointless, monotonous, irritating... you get the point.
No. I usually love a lengthy book or saga.
Nope. I thought his narration was a bit pretentious.
I have no idea as I couldn't get past part one. I reckon all the scenes I listened to would be up for the chop. If there really is something spectacular going on here, some serious editing is required to give it some pace. I just couldn't devote any more time to it.
I can't believe this is worthy of a prize. I suspect the panel must have also lost the will to read it all and gave it lots of points for length and trying to sound 'in period'.
I'll be asking to return this one to Audible.
"Fascinating if convoluted read"
The book is quite hard to classify. I found it engaging throughout and interesting in its depiction of the New Zealand 'frontier'. Its plot and telling are quite original and left me wanting to look back from time to time (difficult with an audiobook).
The book is filled with a large cast of fleshed out characters. Some of them are not resolved. I did particularly like the Rev Devlin.
"Terrific story, beautifully read. Don't miss this"
The story was subtle, the descriptions of both the characters and the locations beautiful. The plot was clever, but not too clever, and a hint of a ghost story..
"Mark Meadows is amazing"
Mark Meadows is so talented a reader and actor and interpreter of fiction that he rescued this interminable book for me. I read it for my book group and only managed it because of the reader's great work, which made it interesting for me.
Possibly I now have an inch more interest in the history of New Zealand.
Look, opinions are sharply divided on this book. Mostly it annoyed me, but lots of people love it. I thought it intricate and clever, but completely hollow.
Not one thing. God bless him.
Just really wanted to sing Mark Meadows' praises.
"Ambitious as Middlemarch but without the skill"
This book reminds me of George Eliot's Middlemarch in its attempt to describe a whole community and how it interacts, and in the author's interposing of comments about human nature or philosophical observations on life. But whereas Eliot's characters have roundness and depth and come to life, those in The Luminaries are so cardboard I have trouble remembering which is which,so that at each turn of plot I have to work out who this is happening to and how it is likely to affect him or her. (Her is easier as there are only two females).This makes it very hard to empathise with the characters and care about what happens to them. I am only about half-way through, but I'm not sure I'll make it to the end.
To continue the comparison,where Eliot's authorial observations are apposite, insightful, and have a ring of truth, those in The Luminaries are unconvincing and tedious.
The performance is very good, and the narrator's skilful delivery of a variety of accents does
help to distinguish some individuals from the amorphous mass of masculinity (without it I would be really lost.)
I cannot begin to understand why this novel won the Booker Prize. But then, I only got through half of Wolf Hall before boredom overcame me, so perhaps I just don't have the intellectual stamina to cope with Booker Prize material.
"I just didnt get it."
I found this dull and over long. I think the author was paid by the word as you hear the whole story and then it is repeated.
As short less repetitive book would have been much better.
Mr Carver as he was the only character that bought a bit of drama to the whole proceedings.
I got value for money as it was such a long audio book.
I would listen to this while doing chores around the house. I listened every day. After 3 days my wife asked why I was replaying the book ? I replied, I wasn't and that the story is often repeated. Her reply was how dull. I agree.
"Awful, I was unable to get into this."
Avoid. I tried to get into the story and found myself drifting off. I found the characters difficult to follow.
"Best book so far after 4 years on audible"
Great story, great narration, great listen made even better as I was on hols in the South Island New Zealand at the time.
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