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The Luminaries Audiobook

The Luminaries

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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 (1716 )
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4.2 (1486 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Atlanta reviewer 11-11-15 Member Since 2015
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    4
    2
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    "Great experience!"

    This is a very unusual construct. I loved the plot and the writing. The performance was one of the best I have heard!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kathy Nichols Healdsburg, CA United States 11-08-15
    Kathy Nichols Healdsburg, CA United States 11-08-15 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
    12
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    Story
    "Unsatisfying Ending"

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    ceelouise 10-15-15
    ceelouise 10-15-15 Member Since 2016
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Really got into this"
    What made the experience of listening to The Luminaries the most enjoyable?

    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!)


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Anne 09-09-15
    Anne 09-09-15 Member Since 2000
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    1
    1
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    Story
    "Sadistic treatment of the reader"

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lindsay 09-06-15
    Lindsay 09-06-15 Member Since 2017
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    2
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    "brilliant!"

    loved this book! worth the time! everything is woven together perfectly from start to finish. intelligent prose, entertaining, fascinating human story.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Elizabith A Biber 08-23-15
    HELPFUL VOTES
    3
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    "Mixed feelings"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    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.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Turtle 05-20-15
    Turtle 05-20-15
    HELPFUL VOTES
    41
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    Performance
    Story
    "the narrator is brilliant!"
    Have you listened to any of Mark Meadows’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    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.


    If you could take any character from The Luminaries out to dinner, who would it be and why?

    I can't say any of the characters were likable, but most were very plausible.


    Any additional comments?

    it was a study in human character,regardless where it is, but also shined a light on the gold rash era of New Zealand.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    G. Hewitt AL, United States 05-04-15
    G. Hewitt AL, United States 05-04-15 Member Since 2017

    Alabama Mom

    ratings
    REVIEWS
    3
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    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "not for audio"
    What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

    a map and outline


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

    no


    How could the performance have been better?

    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.


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

    confusion


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Gerald MANLY, Australia 04-17-15
    Gerald MANLY, Australia 04-17-15
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    "Great writer. Good story. Brilliant reader."

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    alaska rower 04-10-15
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    "Wonderful reading"

    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

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
Sort by:
  • Claire
    12/15/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "most disappointing"
    Would you try another book written by Eleanor Catton or narrated by Mark Meadows?

    Did not enjoy from the start. Could not get into it and have given up trying.


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

    ?


    How did the narrator detract from the book?

    ?


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

    No if it did I would have stayed with it and hoped for improvement


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Linsey
    11/12/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "disappointing ending"
    Would you try another book written by Eleanor Catton or narrated by Mark Meadows?

    yes, i'd consider it


    Any additional comments?

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Hels Bels
    10/29/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Dire!"
    What would have made The Luminaries better?

    By halving the length & condensing the plot.


    What was most disappointing about Eleanor Catton’s story?

    Far too long winded. Too many characters involved and it all got very confusing with the backwards & forwards approach to the plot.


    What about Mark Meadows’s performance did you like?

    He made the book.......without his brilliant interpretations of the various characters, it would have been even more of a disaster!


    Any additional comments?

    Really disappointed with the end!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Lee
    Redditch, United Kingdom
    10/17/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Go Abridged"
    What disappointed you about The Luminaries?

    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.


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

    Mark Meadows narration of the many characters in this book was excellent, and each was distinctive from their speech


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Nigel Nicholson
    London England
    10/10/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Too much plot - too little purpose"
    Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

    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.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Irrelevant question - hardly anything to do with the merits of the title


    Any additional comments?

    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

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Sarah
    St Martins, United Kingdom
    9/25/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "I absolutely cannot fathom why people like this."
    What would have made The Luminaries better?

    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.


    Has The Luminaries put you off other books in this genre?

    No. I usually love a lengthy book or saga.


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

    Nope. I thought his narration was a bit pretentious.


    If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from The Luminaries?

    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.


    Any additional comments?

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Roderic
    Victoria Park, Australia
    9/24/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Fascinating if convoluted read"
    Where does The Luminaries rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    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).


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    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.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • 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

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