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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 (1270 )
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4.1 (1096 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Amber Brookman San Francisco, CA United States 05-16-14
    Amber Brookman San Francisco, CA United States 05-16-14 Member Since 2012

    Amber

    ratings
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    10
    2
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    "The benefits of listening."
    Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

    Yes. The performance made this book interesting and compelling. As did the writing.


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

    I think the story did not need the Astrology. I missed the point of the Astrology, maybe something lost in listening rather than reading. However we picked this book for a book club and I was the only one who finished and liked it, I believe it was directly because I listened to it instead of reading. It would be very tedious to read.


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

    no


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

    Yes


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lucy Sydney, Australia 05-10-14
    Lucy Sydney, Australia 05-10-14 Member Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
    4
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    60
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    "Phenomenal"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    This is one of the best books I've ever read, and, as a bibliophile, I do not say this lightly. Murder, revenge, love, deceit, betrayal, dastardly characters, innocent and charming characters; an epic, cinematic novel.

    I have no doubt that Eleanor Catton's novels will become future classics, staples on every book lover's bookshelf. I have already recommended this to numerous friends, who are unanimously in awe of Catton's genius.

    Listening to The Luminaries being read by Mark Meadows was an exquisite joy. Meadows as a narrator is unmatched, in my opinion. He switches seamlessly between a vast range of accents, the most impressive of which are probably Maori, Chinese, Norwegian, and German, although the spectrum of his English accents is amazing.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Emery Staines. I've never read a character quite like him. You can't help but be charmed and bewitched by him.


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

    I loved listening to his performance of Harald Nilsson in particularly. Such a subtle accent.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Albertus de Geest 04-17-14 Member Since 2006
    ratings
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    162
    1
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    Story
    "Great story well told"
    Where does The Luminaries rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    One of the best


    What did you like best about this story?

    The separate story lines build the tension but do not come together until the end so it holds your attention until the end.


    What about Mark Meadows’s performance did you like?

    Great narration although his pronunciation of some of the place names was unusual.


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

    No I needed to come up for air occasionally


    Any additional comments?

    A great story told in a way that kept me fully engaged and interested until the end.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Scott Moss Beach, CA, United States 04-16-14
    Scott Moss Beach, CA, United States 04-16-14 Member Since 2009

    Wine, food and travel writer, editor, and aspiring novelist.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    125
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    "Brilliant Narration but Book Needs an Editor"

    Mark Meadows is amazing, voicing more than a dozen characters so distinctly that it was like listening to an ensemble cast. His accents run the gamut from Scottish, to Irish, the various regional and class distinctions of England, Maori, Australian, Chinese, men and women, young and old. I only kept listening because of the narrator.

    The book is Dickensian in scope and 19th Century in narrative style, which befits the subject, but it needed a good editor. The writing is very good, but the story jumps around in time to no purpose, and is numbingly repetitive. The last quarter of the book does little more than show in action what we already know from hearsay and narration, and leaves a few loose ends that would have given a more satisfying resolution.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dutch Nebraska 04-15-14
    Dutch Nebraska 04-15-14 Member Since 2015
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    "Enthralling"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    This is richly detailed work of fiction with beautifully drawn characters and an elaborate plot.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Linda Patten Cerritos, CA USA 04-03-14
    Linda Patten Cerritos, CA USA 04-03-14 Member Since 2014
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    2
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    "A masterpiece!"
    Would you listen to The Luminaries again? Why?

    Yes, I loved the author's use of words and style.


    What did you like best about this story?

    The well-rounded characters and humor, along with the mystery story and unexpected twists.


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

    No, but I will again --he is amazing; his use of accents and tone are awe-inspiring.


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

    Too many to mention.


    Any additional comments?

    If you love stories with interesting characters and slow-developing but well reasoned plots read this!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer 04-02-14
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    95
    4
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    "Needed to see astrological drawings"

    Really enjoyed this book, the characters and the history BUT after finishing I did some research and realized I had missed a lot by not being able to see the drawings and understanding the correlation between the stars and the story.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Diane LANGLEY, WA, United States 03-25-14
    Diane LANGLEY, WA, United States 03-25-14 Member Since 2014
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Grew on me!"
    If you could sum up The Luminaries in three words, what would they be?

    Compelling


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

    Anna Wetherell and Emery Staines taking drugs together! The ending was sort of a shock when it happened; I didn't expect it.....not the action of the ending, just the end of the book. I didn't expect it to end when it did, thought I'd made a mistake in listening.


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

    I don't remember. He was terrific.


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

    Anna. She was sort of a mystery all along. Some characters I just don't remember and/or what part they played in the story.


    Any additional comments?

    This book grew on me. I couldn't believe it would carry it self for so long, but in the end, it did. I MISS the characters; loved the main ones in particular, and had no idea I would. We traveled in NZ two years ago so knowing the geography (we were in all the places mentioned) was very fun. Also imagining a gold rush in a country other than the U.S. was interesting; I'd never read about one elsewhere. I was surprised whoring/a whore were so casually accepted there too. Also loved that Eleanor Catton, such a YOUNG WOMAN writer, could get into the heads of men like she did; brilliant, and, also that at her age she could write as insightfully as she did. Highly recommended despite the fact I didn't like it until probably the middle. I love audiobooks for that reason, I almost always give them a good long chance.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    anonymous Golden, CO USA 03-23-14
    anonymous Golden, CO USA 03-23-14 Member Since 2013
    ratings
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    "Not worth a credit"

    I read a lot, and when I can't read, I listen to books. This has a wonderful narrator, but the story is so slow and repetitive that by a few hours into it, I didn't care about any of the characters or the mystery the author was trying to develop. Any comparisons to Dickens are misplaced. This book is pure tedium.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Peregrine Los Angeles, CA, United States 03-15-14
    Peregrine Los Angeles, CA, United States 03-15-14 Member Since 2015

    If it weren't for Audible I'd never get any reading done.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A great read, but falls apart at the end"

    The Luminaries is a great read for anyone who enjoys 19th-century British novels. Catton's prose is of a decidedly Victorian bent, beautiful descriptions spilling out as a Wilkie Collins-type plot unfolds. Now, I read the Woman in White recently and ended up angry at its cheap coincidences, but The Luminaries doesn't have any of those. For most of the book it's very funny and a real page turner, even with its formal prose style. There's also a fascinating portrayal of early New Zealand society, which indeed was the author's aim.

    What it does have is a weird structure in which little pieces of the whole plot drip out for 800pp., followed by a rush to the finish that doesn't even answer all the reader's questions. Upon finishing I went online and was both relieved and annoyed to find that the unexplained pieces of the plot are just that. There's also an astrological theme throughout that I confess I couldn't follow (even looking at the charts at the head of each section in the print book, which the audiobook of course omits).

    Mark Meadows may be the very best narrator I've ever listened to, as he switches effortlessly through a variety of British, Scottish and Irish accents.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Showing: 71-80 of 111 results PREVIOUS178912NEXT
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  • Christine
    Coromandel Valley, Australia
    4/19/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Amazing Narration"

    Mark Meadows deserves an award for this narration. The book basically has 15 main characters and he has differentiated all of them perfectly. I am in awe of the talent!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Catharina
    AmsterdamNetherlands
    4/18/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Brilliant!"
    Would you listen to The Luminaries again? Why?

    Well, it was a bit long to listen to it again, but it would be worth it for all the fantastic insights into human nature. Reminded me of why I love Jane Austen. Also loved the clever way in which all the different storylines were interwoven and came together. Only downside to me were the last few chapters going back to tell us some things the observant listener would have already figured out.


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

    So many surprising little twists.


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

    No


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

    No, it was too long for that. Otherwise definitely.


    Any additional comments?

    No

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Mrs
    WASHINGTON, United Kingdom
    4/17/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Transported back in time"
    Where does The Luminaries rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    I really enjoyed this lengthy book. Definitely in my top ten so far


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

    The party held by Lydia


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

    Mark Meadows' pleasant reading style allowed me to be quite imaginative about the characters


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

    No! Far too long for that. This was to be savoured over many days


    Any additional comments?

    I didn't think I would enjoy a 'historical' novel, but I did. It had obviously been well researched.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • K. Ormiston
    UK
    4/6/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Complicated but worth concentrating for"
    What made the experience of listening to The Luminaries the most enjoyable?

    A friend was reading it at the same time so we could discuss it,


    What did you like best about this story?

    The richness of the characters and setting. It should be sponsored by the New Zealand tourist office.


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

    The Chinaman


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

    Yes, I frequently listened far longer than I had intended to.


    Any additional comments?

    A bit complicated until you get the hang of all the characters but worth perseverance. I didn't understand the astrological stuff at the beginning of each chapter but really like the phrases: in which ... And a one or two word summation of the theme of the chapter.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • sally
    Nelson, New Zealand
    4/6/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Hokitika take your gum boots"
    Would you try another book written by Eleanor Catton or narrated by Mark Meadows?

    Eleanor yes


    Who might you have cast as narrator instead of Mark Meadows?

    Someone who can pronounce te reo words. I loved his voice but some was very irritating.


    Did The Luminaries inspire you to do anything?

    I visit Hokitia several times per year for work. I went into the museum and suggested that the wonderful old photo's of the wharf, weld St and Revell St be turned into postcards, so i can send them to all those people who don't get to the West Coast but love the book.


    Any additional comments?

    A wonderful 'who dun it' set in an extraordinary time. Eleanor captures much of the complexities of early settlers and attitudes to others. I didn't understand all the astrological aspects although i tried hard throughout.
    a book to be enjoyed with lots of time such as long journeys or dark winter evenings.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • 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
    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
  • Showing: 71-80 of 136 results PREVIOUS178914NEXT

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