The Luminaries

A Novel
Catton, Eleanor, 1985- (Book - 2013 )
Average Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5.
The Luminaries

Item Details

Grand Central Pub
The bestselling, Man Booker Prize-winning novel hailed as "a true achivement. Catton has built a lively parody of a 19th-century novel, and in so doing created a novel for the 21st, something utterly new. The pages fly."--New York Times Book Review

It is 1866, and Walter Moody has come to stake his claim in New Zealand's booming gold rush. On the stormy night of his arrival, he stumbles across a tense gathering of twelve local men who have met in secret to discuss a series of unexplained events: a wealthy man has vanished, a prostitute has tried to end her life, and an enormous cache of gold has been discovered in the home of a luckless drunk. Moody is soon drawn into a network of fates and fortunes that is as complex and exquisitely ornate as the night sky.

Richly evoking a mid-nineteenth-century world of shipping, banking, and gold rush boom and bust, The Luminaries is at once a fiendishly clever ghost story, a gripping page-turner, and a thrilling novelistic achievement. It richly confirms that Eleanor Catton is one of the brightest stars in the international literary firmament.

Baker & Taylor
Prostitute Anna Wetherell is arrested on the same day that three men with various connections to her disappear from a coastal New Zealand town during the 1866 gold rush in this new novel from the author of The Rehearsal. 15,000 first printing.

Authors: Catton, Eleanor, 1985-
Statement of Responsibility: Eleanor Catton
Title: The luminaries
a novel
Edition: 1st United States ed
Characteristics: 834 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm
Content Type: text
Media Type: unmediated
Carrier Type: volume
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Report This Apr 22, 2014
  • paulbifford rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

It's a pretty amazing achievement. I had to start it twice (Burial Rites inspired me to try again), got lost in the middle, but I loved the way it was written. It doesn't really resolve, but it picked up at the end and I loved Moody's court arguments. It did remind a little of reading Wolf Hall, although I preferred the style of Luminaries.

This was a marathon book for me but when I got to know the characters I started to really enjoy it and I couldn't believe at first how someone so young could produce such a work of art. One of the best books I have read and I would recommend to anyone but stick with it it's worth it.

Report This Apr 14, 2014
  • Smartjanitor rated this: 2 stars out of 5.

I could not get excited about this. The opening was at once overwritten, stultifying, and lugubrious. Perhaps if I had taken a powerful stimulant I may have lasted longer. I felt so guilty about being somewhere between uninspired and repulsed about a book that had gotten such plaudits that I contacted my brother for solace. "Life is too short to read anything that doesn't grab you," he said, and gave me a list of books that turned out to be much better. I'm sorry. It's blah. I'd rather read Brideshead Revisited again--and am doing so.

Well recommended by some, panned by others. I'll try it.

Report This Apr 06, 2014
  • macierules rated this: 3 stars out of 5.

Engages the mind with all the layered details, however, it fell flat for me on an emotional level.

Report This Mar 17, 2014
  • vickiz rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

Although it is an immense novel - an initially but only briefly daunting 832 pages - The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton is a book I'm keen to revisit. Not only is the storytelling utterly engrossing - again, initially but only briefly intimidating in its complexity - and the individual character development rich and intriguing, but all of that was so absorbing that I confess I paid little attention to the novel's meticulous construction. That is, it's built on a precise astrological framework, whereby the main characters represent signs of the zodiac or pairings of planetary bodies, and their respective stories and how they intersect (or do not) correspond to the movement of the heavens. I tried to stick with that for approximately the first quarter of the book, but then got swept into action, mystery and romance of the story, set in the latter half of the 1800s in New Zealand during that country's wild west goldrush era. By the halfway point, I was also so captivated by the well-rounded characters and their fascinating interactions and motivations that I was much more interested in their respective fates than Catton's estimable structural feats. I know that a return visit to this book will likely be an even more powerful experience, melding the compelling story more consciously with the literal and figurative constellation of characters.

I absolutely loved this book. Long though it is, it's a page-turner, and the characters are described by someone who really looks carefully at people, and can make you laugh too. Wonderful scene between the priest and the maori man, at the gravesite of their friend... so clever! After reading quite a few rather "shallow" books, I found this one rich and satisfying. I didn't follow the astrological connection, but it didn't take away from my enjoyment, though one day it would be great to have it explained.

Report This Feb 11, 2014
  • suikii rated this: 1 stars out of 5.

The worst book I have read in many years. Absolutely terrible. How does such a poorly written book get awards. Beyond me. Not worth my precious time. A complete DUD.

Report This Jan 27, 2014
  • tomeseattle rated this: 3.5 stars out of 5.

I liked the book but it could have done with a bit of editing. I liked the complex plotting and the flashbacks and multi-points of view from each of the characters (which make up almost a whole view). I also liked the style and clever plotting and organization. But to me it took almost 75% of the book for the author to get to a point where she could start tying all the threads together. This was the point where the pace picked up and kept moving until near the end. This part of the book is quite well crafted. However, near the end of the book the chapter synopses that head each chapter now go from a few lines to almost a whole page in order to provide the context in which to deliver a few lines of dialogue. But at least it doesn't take as long to end the story as to begin it. As for loose ends, through providing sufficient clues for the reader to fill in the blanks, I think the author did very well in not having to spell out every side-mystery (who really did what).

Report This Jan 26, 2014
  • bluehydrangea rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

Unexpectedly funny, and fun to read.

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Eleanor Catton reads from 'The Luminaries'

Eleanor Catton reads from 'The Luminaries' ; winner of the 2013 Man Booker Prize; PBS Newshour

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