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 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.
So jealous of Catton's talent! It took me a while to get into this book. I sometimes have trouble with male narrators. I bought the book version and may read it again, there's so much to capture. I mean, she's no Henry James or Jane Austen, but this book is pretty brilliant. Enjoy! (The ending will really get you and you'll have to go back and relisten!)
I wasted 30 hours thinking that eventually the hard to follow plot would come together. instead, having evidently run out of time or space or her advance, Catton tries to wrap it up in a chapter heading (!) at the end. Authorial malpractice.
I would not recommend this audio book to most people. The story is long and convoluted. It gets a bit tedious over time. I would probably recommend a hard copy rather than an audio version as it is a little easier to keep things straight w/ a hard copy, as you can go back to check on previous story details more easily. The audio copy that I downloaded from audible was missing most of the last chapter. I down loaded it twice so I know it wasn't a download issue.
this book has many characters and a story that keeps getting more side stories so without the brilliant narration of Mark Meadows it would have been agony to follow.
I can't say any of the characters were likable, but most were very plausible.
it was a study in human character,regardless where it is, but also shined a light on the gold rash era of New Zealand.
a map and outline
I am still interested in this title, but this is a story with many layers of stories embedded within. Well, I am 2 hours into it and so far this is what I've got. I listen to many, many audiobooks but this one is just not working for me. I need visuals to make this one work. I don't walk away from books very often, but I'm walking from this one.
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
Did not enjoy from the start. Could not get into it and have given up trying.
No if it did I would have stayed with it and hoped for improvement
yes, i'd consider it
I really enjoyed this up to the last few chapters. They would be around 20 minutes throughout the book but then just 2 minutes towards the end and I don't think it cleared things up properly, not a proper ending. Everything was well thought out / explained / told but the ending was rushed.
By halving the length & condensing the plot.
Far too long winded. Too many characters involved and it all got very confusing with the backwards & forwards approach to the plot.
He made the book.......without his brilliant interpretations of the various characters, it would have been even more of a disaster!
Really disappointed with the end!
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.
Report Inappropriate Content
If you find this review inappropriate and think it should be removed from our site, let us know. This report will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.