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The Luminaries | [Eleanor Catton]

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

3.6 (1034 )
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Story
4.1 (891 )
5 star
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4 star
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3 star
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2 star
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1 star
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Performance
Sort by:
  •  
    Darja Germany 02-07-14
    Darja Germany 02-07-14 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
    4
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    10
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    "not audiobook material"

    First of all, let me say that I adore the actor who read it. This is the first time that I could identify every single character simply by the way they speak, even before 'XXX said' would come (and there are a lot of characters). Mark Meadows does a great job of impersonating different people, men as well as women, and it is not ridiculous or annoying as such 'voice change' can get sometimes when you hear grown men trying to do a woman's voice. The reading was exquisite.

    That said, I almost gave up on the book. It feels like a sort of book I would like, but in the end I decided that it was simply not audiobook material: the plot and writing are to complex to perceive without having the text in front of your eyes. Especially in the last chapters, where action happens very quickly and almost exclusively in very complicated sentences in form of chapter summaries. The plot jumps back and forth, there are a lot of descriptions, philosophical reveries and flashbacks, and it's simply too hard too follow by ear. There were a lot of spots where I thought, I love this quote! Wonderfully said! but the story was already moving forward, and I could neither enjoy the turn of phrase properly, no catch up to the stuff that happened in three seconds past.

    So all in all, I recommend you to buy the paper version of the book, or alternatively, really concentrate on listening (not next to cooking/running as I usually do, and definitely not in bed, because you'll surely fall asleep and miss a million of plot turns)

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kath of Oz Melbourne 02-05-14
    Kath of Oz Melbourne 02-05-14 Member Since 2012

    Avid reader and journalist deploying my pen in the service of this planet's visionaries.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A magnificent tale of twists and turns"

    A marvellous swag of characters who intertwine in a plot that would have lost me if not for its sharply incised protagonists. You'll love the journey.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Anne Hoover, AL, United States 02-02-14
    Anne Hoover, AL, United States 02-02-14 Member Since 2011
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    3
    3
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Much ado about nothing"
    What would have made The Luminaries better?

    Ending was such a let down. I was hoping some intellectual end to mystery. But what - Emory Stains was just high on opium and was lying in a druggie den and Anna had a concussion and was lying on road. No one did anything particularly sinister to perpetuate the mystery.


    What do you think your next listen will be?

    Not sure as yet


    What does Mark Meadows bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    Narrator was the only thing I liked In this book. He did a good job of using different voices for each character. I would not hesitate picking another audiobook narrated by him


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

    Disappointment


    Any additional comments?

    Book was hard into get into. Somewhere after 5 hours , I considered returning it. Somewhere after 10 hours, I had the story laid out in my head and was very curious as to who is really behind all these happening on Jan 14. Somewhere after 20 hours, I was bored and wanted this thing to end as nothing new was being added but just being reiterated. After 30 hours when book ended, I felt cheated of my time. Left too many loose ends and not smart enough answers to mystery build. I will be very reluctant to pick another book by this author.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    naomi 01-30-14
    naomi 01-30-14

    nanswim2

    ratings
    REVIEWS
    1
    1
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    Story
    "overrated"
    Would you try another book from Eleanor Catton and/or Mark Meadows?

    NO


    What was most disappointing about Eleanor Catton’s story?

    I just could not become empathetic, sympathetic or even partially interested in the characters. I cannot imagine why it is so highly rated and recommended.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Michelle 01-04-14
    Michelle 01-04-14 Member Since 2010
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    43
    2
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Dissapointing"
    What disappointed you about The Luminaries?

    The narrator's vocal intonations become very annoying. The story moves very slowly. Perhaps an abridged version would be better?


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

    The story is interesting and may be a better read than a listen.


    Would you be willing to try another one of Mark Meadows’s performances?

    No. His voice and individual character accents are great but when he switches to narrating the story in his own voice, it becomes very irritating.


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

    Disappointing. Does every sentence have to be spoken like a question?


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Georgia Burns Atlanta GA 01-04-14
    Georgia Burns Atlanta GA 01-04-14 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
    17
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    "More suited to reading rather than listening"
    Any additional comments?

    Mark Meadows did an admirable job of distinguishing between the many characters in The Luminaries with various accents and tones. Even the women came off well, each pleasingly voiced in their unique way. It is the story itself that kept my head spinning. Without the artifice of the astrological signs, longitudes, latitudes, etc. it is still quite a puzzle to solve. I needed a book in front of me for reference.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    tonydinardo@earthlink.net Upland Ca.lifornia 12-31-13
    tonydinardo@earthlink.net Upland Ca.lifornia 12-31-13 Member Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Boring"
    This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

    A lit major in college


    What was most disappointing about Eleanor Catton’s story?

    the prose was too arcane


    Would you be willing to try another one of Mark Meadows’s performances?

    yes ... but more upbeat


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

    Dissappointment


    Any additional comments?

    none -- sorry no Cigar!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    alison 12-15-13
    alison 12-15-13
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
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    "Maybe shouldn't be an audio book - too long"
    What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

    A shorter book with fewer characters and stories. Sorry, I just found that after 6 hours of listening I was lost and quit. This book requires a concentrated listening time and I hope to restart it in the summer when I can give it the attention I am sure it deserves.


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

    I will decide on this when I finish the book.


    Did the narration match the pace of the story?

    Yes


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

    Yes, it does have promise (I have only listened to 6 hours but do plan on restarting 2014 summer). I might end up reading it as opposed to listening to it. The story line is interesting.


    Any additional comments?

    I hate to criticize a book that fails based on my listening preferences. I rarely listen to anything over 15 hours. I listen to 2 books and read an ebook at the same time, so loooong books with complex/multiple character story lines just don't seem to work for me as an audio book. When I take up this audio book again, I will appropriately revise my review. I wonder if I will have to try out Audibles return policy.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jamie 12-15-13
    Jamie 12-15-13
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    2
    2
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Great characters and well read"
    What made the experience of listening to The Luminaries the most enjoyable?

    The narrator's talent for accents and expressions. And of his the good material he had to work with.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    The Frenchman Gasgoine (sp? - I listened to it, not read it!) had a talent for cutting statements.


    What about Mark Meadows’s performance did you like?

    Great accents (except for his confused Maori accent - he could have just watched any NZ movie to get the idea - instead Te Rau sounded like an unwell Aborigine) and expressive performance. I haven't considered seeking out books read by a particular person but would do for this guy.


    If you could rename The Luminaries, what would you call it?

    Sphere within a Sphere, because the story rounds on itself so often.


    Any additional comments?

    I'm not sure the whole 'Signs of the Zodiac/Phases of the Moon' theme added anything to the book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Silvia Oakland, CA, USA 12-02-13
    Silvia Oakland, CA, USA 12-02-13 Member Since 2006
    HELPFUL VOTES
    31
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    50
    17
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    5
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Ilumminating"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Absolutely! The author's ability to weave the stories of several complex characters stands out among writers. I felt as if I had been sucked into a swirling whirlpool that drew me deeper and deeper in the the plot.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of The Luminaries?

    The final chapter of the book in which all is revealed stands out.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    With a book of this length, selecting a single scene as a favorite is virtually impossible.


    Who was the most memorable character of The Luminaries and why?

    Anna became my most memorable characters for her depth.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Showing: 61-70 of 83 results PREVIOUS16789NEXT
Sort by:
  • Graham
    Colchester, United Kingdom
    3/31/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Well written, but no story"
    Would you try another book written by Eleanor Catton or narrated by Mark Meadows?


    Mark Meadows narration is excellent.


    What will your next listen be?


    Something with a story line


    Which scene did you most enjoy?

    None


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

    It is very well written, almost Dickensian in style, and the charecters are interesting, very detailed, but the story doesn't go anywhere.


    Any additional comments?

    Although the book is interesting and very well written, the plot is almost non existant. We end up following a group of people doing very little of interest in some Victorian New Zealand gold rush town.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Louisa
    Freshwater Bay, United Kingdom
    3/30/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "I thought it would never end! But it is quite good"
    What did you like best about The Luminaries? What did you like least?

    Best was the reading which was masterly. I also liked the setting and descriptions of New Zealand. I was interested in the whole process of gold mining and the different communities involved in the process. But it was much much too long. However, it is quite clever and if you stick with it you begin to see in what way the book is quite experimental and it is only at the very very end that you understand why the book has been conceived as it has been.


    What about Mark Meadows’s performance did you like?

    He manages to convey the strange environment that all the characters live in and he keeps the pace up which is a huge challenge - he brings the characters to life and helps you get through the long passages.


    If this book were a film would you go see it?

    Possibly, because I would love to see the landscape. The story would have to be drastically cut and I'm not sure if it would be understandable as a film.


    Any additional comments?

    If you like long slow books this is an interesting one.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • andrew
    bath, United Kingdom
    3/27/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "A great story but over long"
    Would you listen to The Luminaries again? Why?

    No, it's too big a commitment with not enough payback


    What was your reaction to the ending? (No spoilers please!)

    A bit lack luster


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

    The priest was very likable


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    The story only really got going in parts 2 and 3 which were really enjoyable.


    Any additional comments?

    It takes too long to get going, but once it did it was great. Lots of depth in both story and characters. Really enjoyable, how evert he ending was too drawn out, leaving a taste of disappointment to something that could have been great.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Per
    Oslo, Norway
    3/22/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Talkative!"

    Sorry to say, this book was boring! No beginning, no middle, no end. And endless stream of detailed stories.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • stew
    Radstock, United Kingdom
    3/20/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Well Read But..."

    Terrible slow story I'm afraid. I gave up half way through. A massive cast all of whom seem to be relating a story that's already happened at a monotonous pace and about whom I failed to care. I got stared at for screaming "Get on with it" as I walked around listening to this tripe.
    Avoid.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Sophie
    Brisbane, Australia
    3/19/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Probably the best audio book I've listened to."
    If you could sum up The Luminaries in three words, what would they be?

    Mesmerising. Fascinating. Brilliant.


    What did you like best about this story?

    The history. Beautifully researched and excellently written to make everything utterly real, it made me want to go over and explore New Zealand and all the places mentioned in the story.


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

    No, but he's brilliant! And it's performance that makes this book so special for me. His genius with juggling so many and often complex voices allowed the story to shine though. I have no doubt I personally would have got a bit bogged down if I was actually reading this one myself.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    The sheer scale of this novel moved me, it is enormous and epic and takes you away on the most amazing journey back in time whilst making it seem very real. I honestly felt I was there with the characters.


    Any additional comments?

    Listen to it.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • laurel
    GODALMING, United Kingdom
    3/13/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "You can almost forget it's literary fiction"
    What did you like most about The Luminaries?

    I normally steer clear of Booker winners and literary fiction because I often find them too pompous and self-important. However, this was a very good and complex story, told and woven among approximately 20 different characters. It was part murder mystery, part court-room drama, and a perfect period piece. I admit that listening to it rather than reading it, I may have missed quite a lot of the astrological significance, but that didn't matter too much overall.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    No particular favourite.


    Which scene did you most enjoy?

    The courtroom scene.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    No - it's 29 hours!


    Any additional comments?

    I found this book very difficult to get into at first, but it was worth persevering. The narrator was good and differentiated the characters well, but initially I found the number of characters a bit confusing. It took me a good 2-4 hours to get into it - almost to the point where the initial scene with the 13 men in a room got up to real time. But I'm glad I stuck with it.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Andrew
    Bedfordview, South Africa
    3/11/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Fantastical Story Weaving"

    A magical trip into the New Zealand gold rush, through one of the most carefully thought out books that I've yet read. The story is woven together with such precision that it leaves you guessing, piecing elements and characters together, and revelling in the rich language.

    The narrator played a large part in making the book - with so many characters and dialogues, his accents and characterisation of the each of the players brought the book to life.

    At times the tempo faltered slightly, and was a little drawn out, but in restrospect these sections of the book developed the persona of each of the characters more richly.

    Go and get it!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • L
    Auckland, New Zealand
    3/1/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "OMG, I'll listen again when I've recovered"

    Massively complex tale, after one listening, I'm not sure I caught it all! And one day when I've recovered from this mammoth story, I'll listen again to pick up the bits that slipped by unnoticed. The narrator did a sterling job with voicing an intimidating number of characters, except Te Rau Te Whare, I don't know what accent we were going for here??
    Anyway, don't buy this book if you were planning getting anything done for the next week, once you start, you won't want to stop until you've worked out what the hells going on.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Ecovisitor
    UK
    2/27/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Gripping story"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    I would recommend this gripping story. Its involved, complicated but clear with beautifully constructed characters brilliantly read.


    What did you like best about this story?

    The length and consistent tension- it was relentless, didn't give you a break in wanting to know what happened next...


    What about Mark Meadows’s performance did you like?

    His way of giving each character a distinctive voice- clear but not annoyingly obvious.


    If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

    A tale of pure gold in a new world of hardship, intrigue and loyalty.


    Any additional comments?

    It was brilliant and I am bereft now its finished!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Showing: 61-70 of 117 results PREVIOUS167812NEXT

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