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)
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.
This is a good book made better by its narration. The structure and subject are both novel. The narrator gives the story a pace and an interest that I didn't find while reading it myself
It was an extremely tough story to follow. The plot line was all over the place. It was a good read, just really tough to follow.
No, not at all, one has to have reading stamina.
The narration was fine, the plot and story line meandered a great deal.
I was glad to finish it because at times while it was good, it was also at times a chore.
Not for everyone, but you need to be able to focus because the plot is very intricate and at the same time loose
It took me ages to settle into the story and understand the characters. When I did, I really enjoyed the history, the goldfields life, the language and the portrayal of life in NZ mining settlements in the mid 1800s. However, I feel that the author took too long to get to certain parts and it was quite repetitious sometimes. It's not a book that I'd recommend to my friend
but am glad I've read it.
"Well worth sticking with this complex story"
Yes as I would not have stuck with print version
none in particular
none in particular
Very well read, complex story that time to get into, but worth it in the end.
An ambling story which has an interesting first chapter. However, 5 chapters in I am now bored by dull characters and not much substance to engross me- very disappointed in this novel indeed!
"Couldn't get into it!"
Really tried but couldn't get into the story at all, too many changes in characters, hard to focus on to follow the story line.
"A great sprawling yarn...."
This is up there with my all time audio favourites.
Start with Sherlock Holmes narrated by the great Basil Rathbone, and add the fabulous cassettes from "Mr Punch" including "To have and have not" with Bogart & Bacall, and 'It's a Wonderful Life" with Jimmy Stewart.
Great yarn, well told.
Discovering that only half of the book had downloaded from audible!
I really thought that it was over....
Excellent delivery by the narrator and Mark Meadows does this complex tale a great service. Every character was recognisable by 'voice', sometimes quicker than where they fitted into the plot! Female charachters were particularly good, plus were there 3 or 4 Scottish accents - methinks?
Oh for that luxury! No thanks, not for this tale.
Too much chapter info at the end, which was a lovely précis, and probably worked better in the book.
The narrator was able to really distinguish between all of the characters and their accents; this made it so much easier to keep up with the twists and turns in the plot. Excellent narrative and engaging characters.
"Tedious in the extreme"
Few redeeming features, way overlong, distant characterisation and feeble plot
He did not seem any more interested than I was, he has my sympathy
Some historic and geographical interest
Cannot begin to understand how it won a prize
"Beautifully written, perfectly delivered"
The intrigue and the crossing lines of a complex narrative added together make this a must read/listen for any fan of historical drama.
"Great start, terrific narration, but peters out"
The first 3/4 of the book are beautifully written, and narrated, wonderful to listen to, but then the entire story is resolved, and it turns out there is no real mystery, and no ghost story at all. The remaining chapters of the book are so thin that it feels as if Eleanor Catton had a target length for her book, realized she had to come to a swift completion and entirely changed her writing style to come to that closure.
Previously reading (not listening to) The Rehearsal I was looking forward to another book which kept me guessing, and reached a high point with its final resolution. Unfortunately with The Luminaries the opposite was the case - the high point is the first part of the book, albeit that this is a value for money 20 hours or so of the audio version, and is thoroughly enjoyable, it does mean the the book ultimately disappointed me.
Mark Meadows' narration is wonderful. His accents for the different characters brings them to life, and his pronunciation of the Maori and Chinese sounded very convincing to my untrained ear.
I am sure I did not fully understand the Astrological theme (maybe this is more effective read rather than heard), but it added nothing to the novel for me.
Overall: Enjoy the writing and narration for the first 20 hours or so, but do not expect too much from the remainder of the novel.
"Time Lord's delight"
Although this book is to be recommended, it fails me in the end with the loose ends and the most especially the compulsive use of jumping back in time like a recording made in nonsequential edits. It rapidly becomes confusing as you futilely try to keep a group on who why and when. Once the trial is over it again leaps backwards to finally tie things up, but creates more of an anticlimax in doing so. Better to reorganise the time segments in a more sequential manner to follow the characters and related events.
I wanted it to be the unexplained facts, and maybe a closure, especially relating to Anna, but it was not to be. So, I suppose the second part of the download was better, with a desire to listen on and get into the story more (e.g. relationship between Carver and Wells), but it was not fulfilled, either as a "once upon a time..." or as a tragedy.
Yes, it would be possible. There are enough loose ends with the death of A Suk, Shepherd' actions and the continuation of Staines' activities in the gold field. Of course, the characters of Lydia Wells, and Carver act as good bad guy characters to act as foils. Maybe tell it from Moody's viewpoint re Anna and Staines.
Reorganise the structure of the original.
"A really good story"
I am so glad I listened to this book. I was a little daunted by the 'list' of characters, but I managed to keep track! Good plot, well written and easy on the ear narration. I was tempted to listen to it again when I got to the end.
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.