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.
"Beautifully written, but slower than a snail"
Wonderfully written for the first 4 hours ...... after 8 hours of having barely progressed on the plot line, and going layer by layer over and over the initial two events .... I was rapidly losing interest. And another 12 hours to go. If her next book was more condensed, definitely as she is a remarkable writer. The narration was excellent.
Something a LOT pacier.
Mark Meadows reads with good pace, and manages effectively to capture all of the different global accents of the characters - bar the Mauri who comes over in a South African rather than New Zealand accent.
Yes definitely film/tv material and would work well conversely being forced to be condensed - something which usually doesn't work from book to film.
"I tried but failed to like this book"
I really struggled through this book, mainly because I just didn't care about ANY of its characters and the story wasn't gripping enough to engage my interest as it winds its way painfully slowly from beginning to damp squib ending. I didn't bother trying to understand the astrological aspect, though maybe had I read the novel rather than listened to it I might have got more from that. The chapter headings becoming progressively longer than the shortening chapters was tiresome. The way the story turns back on itself annoyed me, too, because it made me feel I wasn't getting anywhere despite devoting so many hours of my time listening to the book, hearing about the same few events from too many different perspectives. There is no emotional centre and the story ultimately doesn't seem to matter, since it just fizzles out. Seems to me the writer is more concerned with form and being clever, the novel as an intellectual exercise, which makes it shallow and heartless. I formed no attachment to any of the (too) many characters because they are not written as real people but the embodiment of astrological signs. If they adapt the book for the screen, which is inevitable, they should film it like the recent "Anna Karenina", a play on a theatrical stage.
The skill of the reader was all that kept me going to the end. I suspect I would have abandoned the book had I been reading rather than listening. So yes, I would listen to another of his narrations.
I was disappointed because I had high hopes going in. Normally I love long, meaty novels such as Hilary Mantel's "Wolf Hall" and "Bring up the Bodies", and have previously enjoyed 19th C pastiche such as Charles Palliser's "The Quincunx". I was frustrated that this novel puts form and structure above pace and narrative drive. I was annoyed that the final section (after the conclusion of the trial) adds little or nothing to the story to justify dragging out its length.
I did enjoy the period New Zealand setting and background detail about gold mining. Eleanor Catton is young and very talented, I am sure she will develop as a writer and produce something remarkable and enjoyable.
"Good narration, but I lost the will to carry on."
I have been a audible listener for 8 years and this is only the second book I have decided to not finish. I always buy unabridged books as I like the longer more detailed stories which have time to develop and reflect the authors true intention for the reader in terms of the characters and story line. Having read the reviews I excitably started listening but after a few hours wondered what I had bought. Yes it is descriptive in terms of the characters but often this is overstated and too detailed and detracts the listener from where the story is going. Eventually the feeling of actually getting nowhere in terms of the story line and realising that there probably won't be a breakthrough in terms of the plot has led me to take the decision to stop listening and put this one down to experience.As previously stated, I adore a longer story but really found I had to push myself to keep listening which as I listen for pleasure was not my idea of fun.
Performance was clear and easy to listen to.
Disappointment and wondering if it was just me who didn't get it?
"Ideal choice for listening"
In length it's number one! I started with the knowledge that this Booker Prize winner is long. People have seen the book & been daunted by its size. Audible is the obvious answer. It's still 29hrs, but life can go on alongside "reading" The Luminaries. Mark Meadows as narrator is excellent. His rendition differentiates the numerous characters to minimise confusion. It's a long and complex story which is well worth persisting with. The chapters start very long until near the end when the pace quickens with very short chapters. The passing of time is handled in an interesting way. Initially it's by the various characters relating their part in the story which centres on the death of an isolated man, the disappearance of another - young and newly successful in the gold rush - and the involvement of a young woman trapped by prostitution and opium. A mysterious fortune in gold and a universally despised sea captain link the characters. We gradually discover events over the past couple of years, whilst moving forward in the present. (19C New Zealand.) Eventually the past meets the present and we find the answer to the mysteries which bind the cast.
The complexity, the gentle unfolding and the vision of the life of the times.
Clarifies the complexity by differentiating the characters.
"Gripping tale with a strong sense of place"
I would listen to it again if only to go over some of the details and see how it all hangs together.
I enjoyed the historical setting and the slow way the story unfolded. Trying to work out the chronological order of events was also an enjoyable challenge.
I enjoyed the scene where Walter Moody is reading some letters he's found. That's when events started to fall into place.
I thought the narration of this book was outstanding - there are lots of different characters and Mark Meadows brought each one to life with different accents and voices.
"Storytelling at Its Best,Stylish & Elegant"
The dickensian style of the narative.
any of the 19th centuary classics
excellent very easy listening
a very good mix of characters and a complicated interplay between them.
A brilliant acheivement for such a young author. A very good story well told,I would highly recommend this book
"A captivating listen"
Well plotted, a great tale, amazing weaving of characters, plot meanders and comes back on itself, intriguing, narrator is SO good !
"Excellent if you suffer from insomnia."
So many characters, and not a single one that I cared about. To be honest, at the end of the book I was thoroughly bored and happy it had finally finished.
It's bad enough on TV when you get told what's going to happen in the next section of the show, but to do that in every chapter of the book was really annoying.
I have no idea why we were told about signs of the zodiac or a co-ordinate at the start of each chapter, it had nothing to do with the story as far as I could tell.
The Maori guy (I can't find the spelling of his name anywhere). The accent and way of talking were excellent.
Actually, the performance by Mark Meadows was really good in general, just a bit soporific.
Disappointment and boredom
"Doesn't work as an audiobook"
As I say in the title, I don't believe this book works as an audible book. Though very detailed and well written, there isn't enough narrative drive. I persevered until halfway through the first part and have given up listening.
It is The Greenfinch by Donna Tartt - I'm hooked already.
I shall buy the book and read it as I want to know what happens but can't dedicate 32 hours of my life listening to find out!
"very slow and boring"
It's not often I can't finish an audio book, but really struggled with one and gave up about a third of the way through.
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