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)
The author slowly unfolds the story and the reader learns more about the characters as the story progresses. Although this is a long book, it never flags. The reader is exceptional.
The performance added depth and clarity to the many characters. Having a written chart would help listeners make sense of the many characters and zodiac references
Maybe because I listened to this on audio over several days, but I had a hard time keeping track of the time line of this historical mystery. But I did find myself captivated by the characters, the gold rush culture of New Zealand, and the real and surreal elements of the plot. Now sure hoe it turned out to be a love story but suddenly it was The End and lover is declared. Lovely to listen to a book so well written.
A wonderful story with so many rich layers of detail. I am not sure I would have had the endurance to read the entire book, but I became positively addicted to having it read to me. The narration is brilliant!
The narrator for this book was excellent and did a great job with so many accents. It was a pleasure to listen to this book.
I found the story very interesting and engaging until it dropped out at the end. I was left with the impression of the author scribbling the last 15 pages in the taxi on the way to the printing office as the deadline arrives. The novel was complex and well written for the majority of the story but so many threads seem to be left unaddressed. Overall I still liked this book. Maybe the author is leaving the door (wide) open for a sequel.
I am going to have to return the book and purchase a copy to read.
It is not the actual story or the writing that is putting me off but the way the reader uses far too much of a strange kind of up-speak inflection that is sort of getting my goat.
I'm not saying that he is not a good reader and many people might like his style. However, for me, it is somewhat irritating and I cannot continue listening.
The portion of the tale that I have read was engrossing and interesting and I want to read more.
Great story, but there were lots of characters and many dates and such. It would have been a little easier to follow if I'd actually read it instead of just listened.
No - not my style - too slow to get into the story, too long building up characters.
To be fair - I haven't listened to the entire book I've given up at ~14 hrs into it - believe me I tried to like it - however the start is excruciatingly slow. Perhaps there is a good story buried but for the life of my I just can't get into it. I typically choose books of great length so it's not that it's a long book (29hrs +).
"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.
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
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