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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 (1757 )
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Performance
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  •  
    linda United States 12-07-13
    linda United States 12-07-13 Member Since 2017
    HELPFUL VOTES
    309
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    30
    11
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    Story
    "Mental Ouroboros"

    On the wild fringes of New Zealand, a hermit dies, a prostitute overdoses, and a wealthy young man vanishes in the course of a single, stormy evening. Set in a rugged prospecting town during the gold rush of the mid-19th century, The Luminaries weaves 12 lifelines around these events, forming a vivid tableau of love, betrayal, and suffering.

    Eleanor Catton’s novel, highly structured and marked by idiosyncrasies, is an undeniable tour de force – a whopping 834 pages or almost 30 hours aurally – it mixes a highly modern framework with a Dickensian tenor to form an eccentric and fresh piece of literature. I won’t comment on the peculiarities of the novel’s organization as that point has been belabored extensively, but I will reiterate the comment about the difficulty of its translation into an audio format.

    Without reference pages, the novel is unwieldy - it’s a bit like trying to understand the shape of an elephant only by groping along blindly. The protagonists (12 primary characters and a phalanx of secondaries) take turns telling their narrative, and for the audience, orienting their myriad relations proves challenging. It’s not impossible, however. The Luminaries requires more attention than most audiobooks but given the size of her cast, it’s hardly surprising. For me, the narrator in particular was magnificent and more than made up for any delayed comprehension.

    One of the most prominent themes is the weight astrology bears on plot progression. Each successive chapter and its action take place under an advancing star sign. As a reader unaware of all but the most basic horoscopy, I had the putout sensation that some significant portion of the plot was being acted out behind a curtain of my ignorance.

    But even unaware of the zodiac subtext, I'm still in awe of Catton’s 12 luminaries. They encompass a portion of New Zealand’s historical diversity and she aptly lays out their personalities in a fashion reminiscent of a diviner skilled with a deck of tarot cards. She painstakingly draws each man’s strength only to flip the trait on its head to reveal the intrinsic weakness. It’s marvelously done – the construction is obvious in retrospect but natural in context. Catton doesn’t merely paste these men onto their astrological signs, but allows them to evolve organically, maintaining a coherent and believable sense of their character and personal history.

    The ending was the only aspect that elicited genuine complaint from my corner. After such a long climb to the top, the weightless conclusion galled - at first because I wanted something more substantial, then because I knew it aligned with the rest of the book. The finale: ephemeral and circular, indistinct and directed by ineffable forces, works seamlessly with the spirit of everything that falls before it. I’ve since realized (reluctantly so) that demanding greater closure from her phenomenal work is as futile as demanding concrete answers from celestial bodies.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lynch Kentwood, MI, United States 11-04-13
    Lynch Kentwood, MI, United States 11-04-13 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    Story
    "Awful!"

    Based on all the great reviews I had really high hopes for this book but I just did something I have never done before. I turned this book off and there is no way I am finishing it. After nearly 5 hours it has gone no where, and accomplished nothing!

    In addition to the painfully slow plot line, the narrator is so monotonous I want to stick red hot pokers in my ears.

    I know that a lot of people liked this book and that my one sour review is not likely to sway anyone from listening to it but don't say I didn't tell you so if you decide to embark on this perilous journey through tedium.

    5 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rose 10-30-13
    Rose 10-30-13
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    14
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    Story
    "Tried to like this book but story is very slow"
    Any additional comments?

    The prose is wonderful and the narration is faultless but the story is just too slow to keep me interested in returning to it.

    8 of 14 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sue 11-09-13
    Sue 11-09-13
    HELPFUL VOTES
    5
    ratings
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    17
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    Story
    "Very disappointing read"
    Any additional comments?

    Only my stubbornness in never abandoning a book made me listen to the bitter end. I love long books, but the only thing that deserved a star was the narrator. The bouncing back and forth was often unclear and confusing, and constant astronomical and astrological references made no sense and contributed nothing. The trial was interesting, but that's about it. The ending was terrible. What a disappointment!

    3 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Suramericana 03-29-17 Member Since 2016

    I am retire, love to read

    HELPFUL VOTES
    11
    ratings
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    80
    69
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    Performance
    Story
    "Not my cup of tee"
    What disappointed you about The Luminaries?

    I started this book about 10 times, I get lost, I come back and trying to understand what is going on. For me the gift of a good writer is to get you inside the book without any struggle, this one is not that one. Well I continue the book and part 2 started and I am lost again.<br/>She is a good writer, but I feel like reading a book from Agatha Christie and she is not my favor.


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

    yes


    What three words best describe Mark Meadows’s voice?

    She is fine


    What character would you cut from The Luminaries?

    They are so many I will cut better the pages of the book 300 hundred a least.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    AshokeAgarrwal 01-28-17
    ratings
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    Story
    "Dickensian Mystery"

    In which an insightful mind builds a wide vista out of a fateful day's happenings

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ryan Nashville, TN, United States 01-18-17
    Ryan Nashville, TN, United States 01-18-17 Member Since 2014
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "30 hours of my life that I won't get back"

    Buried under the ridiculous number of introductions and characters is a plot that can even at times be compelling. Beyond that there are not many redeeming qualities.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Briana Kille 10-24-16
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Enthralling!!"

    The voicing, the story, the fun!! This is one of my favorite audiobooks I've listened to, yet!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    serabear 10-14-16
    serabear 10-14-16 Member Since 2015
    ratings
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    15
    6
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    Story
    "ok"

    the story telling was fantastic!! the actual story was mediocre. I was expecting more from the ending and was a bit dissapointed.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ammar 10-13-16
    Ammar 10-13-16 Member Since 2016
    HELPFUL VOTES
    12
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    70
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    Story
    "A long invested ride with..."

    It is brilliantly written. No doubt about it. There are streaks of genius and of insight. However, the center of gravity which the listener invests so much time to find is missing. This is a beautifully created house of cards.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
Sort by:
  • R
    12/8/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Great narration."

    Fantastic narration with wonderful variance in characters' voices. Compelling story but felt ending little rushed.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Nick Nelhans
    11/28/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Great freebie"
    What made the experience of listening to The Luminaries the most enjoyable?

    Had this as a free download from Audible several years ago and never listened. Had a series of long journeys coming up and took the plunge. Great story set in the New Zealand gold fields. I would have paid real money or credits for it.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Katie
    Brighton
    8/29/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "disappointing ending but otherwise excellent"

    a clever trio back in time full of betrayal and intriguing stories interwoven into the exciting new prospects for those seeking life and fortune

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Claire B
    8/15/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "super journey of mystery and colourful characters"

    I really enjoyed this book. I had no trouble to keep going and the vocabulary driven action makes the plot move comfortably along. The voice actor is superb.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Tamas Lorincz
    Dubai, UAE
    6/8/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Great writing"

    Fantastic cast of brilliantly conceived characters. Pure joy and fun. I loved every minute of it.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Mrs
    TONBRIDGE, United Kingdom
    5/2/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Confusing at times but worth persevering"

    There are many excellent reviews of this book, so I will not repeat anything of the story line here. I mainly listen to stories as I travel to and from work, so listen for about an hour at a time. There are a vast array of characters and initially I found it difficult to remember who was who when I started listening again, but as the story progressed and the characters developed they became like old friends and it was easier to pick up from where I'd left off. I always enjoy a story where I feel I am learning something of a different time or place, and there was a great deal of excellent and meticulously researched background detail which gave the story credibility. The narration was extremely good, and distinguished well between the different men and their different backgrounds. All the loose ends were wrapped up at the end, but a little too neatly for my taste - the ending was slightly unbelievable which was a shame after such a great listen. However despite this it is one of the best audio books I have listened to and the story stayed with me long after I had finished listening to it.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Jp Russell
    Chichester harbour
    4/22/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Bigger than the sum of its parts"

    Such a large, ambitious work must be hard to sustain in the writing. Clearly Booker whatever judges might have felt in parts was overcome when assessing in overall performance.
    Overall, this is the best novel I have read (sorry, listened to) in a long time. I just felt is fizzled and galloped to its end. The characters have been so lovingly created and nurtured, and the locations so evocatively placed in the background I can imagine it being an epic tv series and if done well (BBC) will ignited calls for sequels. A movie would be in danger of having to mess and shuffle the plot too much.
    My judgement may have been swayed by the superb reading, but I recommend listening in decent chunks of 60-90 minutes to allow total immersion

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • glp
    3/16/16
    Overall
    "rather complicated for audio"

    I perhaps should have know it would be difficult as audio. next time paperback

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • KateHarris
    2/21/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Good yet frustrating."

    I did enjoy this book and it was read well, however maybe it works better as text. It took so long to get into as the story is told by each cat artery point of view in turn for the beginning, so if you lose concentration for a second you don't know who's speaking, the story finally unravells in the second half.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Ann
    12/9/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Great storyline."

    Loved it! Bit confusing at first, but worked it out in the end. Definitely worth a look. Enjoy...

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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