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The Luminaries Audiobook

The Luminaries

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.
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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 (1540 )
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4.2 (1331 )
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3 star
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2 star
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1 star
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Performance
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  •  
    Sue Goldgewicht costa rica 02-26-15
    Sue Goldgewicht costa rica 02-26-15 Member Since 2015

    srgold

    ratings
    REVIEWS
    33
    4
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "tremendous effort"

    but the convoluted plot becomes a detriment to the development of far too many characters.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Chrysanthemum Wayland, MA United States 02-23-15
    Chrysanthemum Wayland, MA United States 02-23-15 Member Since 2014

    Chrysanthemum

    HELPFUL VOTES
    5
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    23
    7
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    "Dickensian tale wonderfully read"

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer PARIS, TX, United States 02-19-15
    Amazon Customer PARIS, TX, United States 02-19-15 Member Since 2008

    Lawyer, reader, writer, performer. Just love listening to books and talking about it!

    HELPFUL VOTES
    409
    ratings
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    562
    170
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    26
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    Story
    "No Illumination for me"

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kysha 02-19-15
    Kysha 02-19-15 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
    0
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    21
    2
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    0
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    Story
    "Great story"

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mira 02-15-15
    Mira 02-15-15 Member Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
    18
    ratings
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    53
    11
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    0
    0
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    Story
    "too tedious even for audio"
    This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

    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.


    Has The Luminaries turned you off from other books in this genre?

    No, I read a lot of historical fiction style books and will continue to.


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

    Mark performed well.


    What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

    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.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer 02-14-15
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    3
    3
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Like a neo-Victorian novel!"

    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!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Chloehoe 02-13-15
    Chloehoe 02-13-15
    ratings
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    8
    6
    Overall
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    Story
    "Long read, worth it."

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sean 02-08-15
    Sean 02-08-15 Listener Since 2010
    ratings
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    14
    1
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    Story
    "Epic story"

    huge story lots of plots to follow, got lost a few times.
    Beautifully written. huge amount of research & narrated quite brilliantly.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    day 02-06-15
    day 02-06-15 Member Since 2014

    I like words - even the ones I don't know yet

    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
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    14
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    0
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    "Perfection"
    If you could sum up The Luminaries in three words, what would they be?

    An engrossing mystery


    What did you like best about this story?

    This story unfolds so naturally becoming clearer and more complex all the while: It's meticulously crafted.


    What about Mark Meadows’s performance did you like?

    Meadows is truly brilliant and I was especially impressed how nimble he is jumping between characters.


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

    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.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Michele 01-25-15
    Michele 01-25-15
    HELPFUL VOTES
    2
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    17
    3
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    0
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    "Best book I'll read this year!"

    And January is not even over. I listened to it twice, back to back, the book is just that rich with detail.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
Sort by:
  • Joan
    Co Wicklow, Ireland
    9/22/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Terrific story, beautifully read. Don't miss this"
    What made the experience of listening to The Luminaries the most enjoyable?

    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..


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Mrs. Leslie Brown
    9/14/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Mark Meadows is amazing"
    What did you like about this audiobook?

    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.


    How has the book increased your interest in the subject matter?

    Possibly I now have an inch more interest in the history of New Zealand.


    Does the author present information in a way that is interesting and insightful, and if so, how does he achieve this?

    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.


    What did you find wrong about the narrator's performance?

    Not one thing. God bless him.


    Do you have any additional comments?

    Just really wanted to sing Mark Meadows' praises.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Bookthrower
    UK
    8/25/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Briggsy
    8/17/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "I just didnt get it."
    What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

    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.


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

    As short less repetitive book would have been much better.


    Which character – as performed by Mark Meadows – was your favourite?

    Mr Carver as he was the only character that bought a bit of drama to the whole proceedings.


    You didn’t love this book--but did it have any redeeming qualities?

    I got value for money as it was such a long audio book.


    Any additional comments?

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Sally
    London
    8/10/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • robert
    8/6/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • brenda miller
    harlow, United Kingdom
    7/20/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Help!"

    I am still trying to get past the first few chapters - has anyone actually finished it - I have asked friends who are all struggling with it - I will get there one day but am just interested to know what other listeners/readers think

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Sean Dynan
    Ireland
    7/19/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Please may I have 30 hours of my life back?"
    What would have made The Luminaries better?

    An ending worthy of the staggeringly intricate story.


    What will your next listen be?

    Some pulp fiction. I need to detox from this book.


    Which character – as performed by Mark Meadows – was your favourite?

    Whatever Mark Meadows was paid for his narration was not enough. He is a complete genius. His narration was the only thing that kep me going to the bitter end, to be honest. I reckon my favourite characterization was Reverend Devlin Cowell. Meadows pulled off an almost perfect Belfast accent for the Reverend.


    What character would you cut from The Luminaries?

    All of them.


    Any additional comments?

    This massive book is a technical tour-de-force, no doubt about it. And Catton's command of Victorian-era stylistic prose is extraordinary. Her ability to succinctly convey the human condition in its myriad forms is a genuine treat. But...the destination just isn't worth the journey. The whole experience reminded me of how I felt after Stephen King's The Green Mile. Please, Audible, reclassify this book as Magical Realism before hundreds of other poor saps waste three weeks of their lives persevering with this.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • JackieK
    7/11/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "The best story I've come across in years."
    If you could sum up The Luminaries in three words, what would they be?

    Perfect storytelling.


    What did you like best about this story?

    Brilliantly constructed and beautifully written. A thoroughly engaging story. Must have taken an extraordinary amount of research.


    What about Mark Meadows’s performance did you like?

    Loved the characterisations. Very well done throughout.


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

    The book was, moving, humorous in parts and emotionally engaging. I really did not expect to enjoy it so much. Commanded my attention throughout.


    Any additional comments?

    I could not stop listening even when it was time to cook the dinner!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Wills
    County Durham England
    7/7/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Not My Usual Cup Of Tea"
    What did you like most about The Luminaries?

    The narration was good and the pace of the story was excellent.


    What other book might you compare The Luminaries to, and why?

    Find it difficult to compare with another book as I really have read nothing like it before.


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

    Have not listened to Mark Meadows before but will definitely look out for him again.


    Any additional comments?

    Only bought the book because of online recommendation but have really enjoyed what for me is a very new gendre of reading. Will look out for more Eleanor Catton books and also for the narrator Mark Meadows.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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