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The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton

The Luminaries (2013)

by Eleanor Catton

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
3,1761912,515 (3.77)1 / 567
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English (184)  Dutch (6)  German (1)  All languages (191)
Showing 1-5 of 184 (next | show all)
Very interesting way to telling a story. Not sure about the ending, and it seems at the end, the chapters get shorter and shorter signing that the author was tire of the story as well? There are some flaw at the plot that I am not conveniced (Stain's disapperance and reappearance), but the twist and turn is well layed out and kept my attention. ( )
  Baochuan | Aug 10, 2018 |
late 1800's New Zealand, gold, opium, whores — many characters with many interconnecting pieces of the story — Hard to get into

It is 1866, and young Walter Moody has come to make his fortune upon the New Zealand goldfields. 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 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 ornate as the night sky.
  christinejoseph | May 22, 2018 |
This novel is set during a gold rush in New Zealand, where men (and a few women) come from all over to make their fortunes. One of these men is Walter Moody, a young man who arrives in the port town of Hokitika under stressful circumstances; the ship he sailed on ran aground near the harbor and so he arrives without his luggage, settling into a mediocre hotel and then heading to the public sitting room to relax. A group of men have already gathered there, intending to discuss some pressing issues and they are left to loiter unconvincingly when Moody shows up.

The pressing issues include the captain of the ship Moody sailed on, a prostitute with an addiction who attempted suicide and the disappearance of a young and successful miner. Catton takes her time here, not to stall the momentum of the novel, but to give it depth. Each man's point of view is accounted for, building a story that becomes more complex with every telling.

The Luminaries is not so much sweeping as it is thorough. It has the feel of a Victorian novel, not just in the length and setting, but in its willingness to take its time. It was a great deal of fun to read. ( )
  RidgewayGirl | Apr 4, 2018 |
DNF ( )
  Rhian.Liberatore | Mar 20, 2018 |
(Actually New Zealand, not Australia).

Quite the intricate tale of intrigue. Almost a whodunit, but more of a "howdunit", since the guilty parties are apparent relatively early. The way the twelve men weave their story and then continue to connect its unfoldings gets complicated! I wouldn't stretch this book out or I'd lose the thread and connections. A limited cast of characters, but still rather large and because the story is unfolded in an almost backwards (but sometimes crisscrossed) chronological order, it is quite the feat. I can only imagine the charts and notes the author had in writing this book!

Anna, the gold-mining town whore is caught up in the death of a hermit and the disappearance of a rich man, though how the events are all connected and why is the mystery the book sets out to solve.

Well written and entertaining, though long.
I loved the irony of the little "synopsis" at the start of each chapter, and how they became longer and longer in the final chapters to the point where they contained more plot than the chapters themselves. Brilliant! ( )
  LDVoorberg | Dec 3, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 184 (next | show all)
It is complex in its design, yet accessible in its narrative and prose. Its plot is engrossing in own right, but an awareness of the structure working behind it deepens one’s pleasure and absorption. As a satisfying murder mystery, it wears its colours proudly, yet it is not afraid to subvert and critique the traditions and conventions of its genre. Best of all, while maintaining a wry self-awareness about its borrowings and constructions, it is never a cynical novel. At times, it can be unapologetically romantic, in both its narrative content and its attitude towards the literary tradition it emulates. It is a novel that can be appreciated on many different levels, but which builds into a consistent and harmonious whole.
Is Ms. Catton’s immense period piece, set in New Zealand, for readers who want to think about what they should be thinking? The book’s astrology-based structure does not exactly clarify anything. Its Piscean quality, she writes in an opening note, “affirms our faith in the vast and knowing influence of the infinite sky.”
added by ozzer | editNew York Times, Janet Maslin (Oct 23, 2013)
It’s easy to toss around words like “potential” and “promising” when a young author forges the kind of impression made by Eleanor Catton with her 2009 debut, The Rehearsal, a formally tricky but assured novel that hinged on teacher-student sexual relations. It won the Amazon.ca First Novel Award and the Betty Trask Award, and was a finalist for a handful of other plaudits, including the prestigious Dylan Thomas Prize for the best work by a writer under the age of 30. Making good on those expectations is another matter. With her ambitious second novel, Catton has accomplished that – and a great deal more.
The Luminaries is a novel that can be enjoyed for its engrossing entirety, as well as for the literary gems bestowed on virtually every page.
added by monnibo | editQuill & Quire, Vit Wagner (Oct 1, 2013)
The Luminaries has been perfectly constructed as the consummate literary page-turner.

But it is also a massive shaggy dog story; a great empty bag; an enormous, wicked, gleeful cheat. For nothing in this enormous book, with its exotic and varied cast of characters whose lives all affect each other and whose fates are intricately entwined, amounts to anything like the moral and emotional weight one would expect of it. That's the point, in the end, I think, of The Luminaries. It's not about story at all. It's about what happens to us when we read novels – what we think we want from them – and from novels of this size, in particular. Is it worthwhile to spend so much time with a story that in the end isn't invested in its characters? Or is thinking about why we should care about them in the first place the really interesting thing? Making us consider so carefully whether we want a story with emotion and heart or an intellectual idea about the novel in the disguise of historical fiction … There lies the real triumph of Catton's remarkable book.
added by Polaris- | editThe Guardian, Kirsty Gunn (Sep 11, 2013)
The narrative structure intrigues, moving Rashomon-like between viewpoints and the bounds of each character’s separate sphere of knowledge, without ever losing the reader, various characters playing detective then stepping aside. The novel has many attributes – excellent dialogue, humour, great observation, as when two acquaintances at a party share the same expression:......Catton matches her telling to her 19th-century setting, indulging us with straightforward character appraisals, moral estimations of each character along with old-fashioned rundowns of their physical attributes, a gripping plot that is cleverly unravelled to its satisfying conclusion, a narrative that from the first page asserts that it is firmly in control of where it is taking us. Like the 19th-century novels it emulates, The Luminaries plays on Fortune’s double meaning – men chasing riches, and the grand intertwining of destinies.
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for Pop, who sees the stars
and Jude, who hears their music
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The twelve men congregated in the smoking room of the Crown Hotel gave the impression of a party accidentally met.
'There's no charity in a gold town. If it looks like charity, look again.'
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Wikipedia in English (2)

Book description
It is 1866, and Walter Moody has come to make his fortune upon the West Coast goldfields. On the night of his arrival, he stumbles across a tense gathering of twelve 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 sum of money 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. From the author of the award-winning global phenomenon The Rehearsal comes a breathtaking feat of storytelling where everything is connected, but nothing is as it seems.
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0316074314, Hardcover)

From the acclaimed author of The Rehearsal comes a novel about a young woman on trial for murder in nineteenth-century New Zealand.

On a blustery January day, a prostitute is arrested. In the midst of the 1866 gold rush on the coast of New Zealand, this might have gone unnoticed. But three notable events occur on that same day: a luckless drunk dies, a wealthy man vanishes, and a ship's captain of ill repute cancels all of his business and weighs anchor, as if making an escape. Anna Wetherell, the prostitute in question, is connected to all three men.

This sequence of apparently coincidental events provokes a secret council of powerful townsmen to investigate. But they are interrupted by the arrival of a stranger: young Walter Moody, who has a secret of his own...

THE LUMINARIES is an intricately crafted feat of storytelling, a mystery that reveals the ways our interconnected lives reshape our destinies.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:23:50 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Arriving in New Zealand in 1866 to seek his fortune in the goldfields, Walter Moody finds himself drawn into a series of unsolved crimes and complex mysteries.

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