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The Luminaries (2013)

by Eleanor Catton

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4,2712272,206 (3.78)1 / 682
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.… (more)
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» See also 682 mentions

English (218)  Dutch (6)  German (1)  French (1)  Finnish (1)  All languages (227)
Showing 1-5 of 218 (next | show all)
Not the easiest book to read - I had trouble focusing on the novel at first, and gradually was drawn into it. Good storytelling, stunning writing. ( )
1 vote leahsusan | Mar 26, 2022 |
In 1866, a diverse and international cast of characters converges on Hokitika, a New Zealand gold-mining port-town. The protagonists grapple with a number of mysterious goings-on in the town - the disappearance of a young businessman, the sudden and suspicious death of a drunk in whose home a hidden fortune is discovered, an attempted suicide by a locally well-known prostitute who vigorously denies having tried to take her life. It soon becomes evident that the search for the truth will not be easy...

The Luminaries was the 2013 Booker Prize winner and it is not difficult to see why. A sprawling, 800 page novel, it is kept together by a meticulously crafted structure inspired by astrology (which, incidentally, plays quite a central role in the plot). Characters are analysed with great psychological insight; settings and interiors are described in a poetic prose which could well serve as textbook extracts for creative writing classes. Underlying the novel are suitably profound queries - to what extent are we masters of our fate? What are the elements which govern human behaviour? For lovers of 19th century novels there are then knowing "inside" references to the genres which dominated Romantic narrative fiction - the sensation novel, the revenge/adventure yarn, the crime/mystery story, seafaring tale, the ghost story.

Yet, despite its brilliance, The Luminaries somehow doesn't add up to the sum of its parts. As a crime novel it is simply too long, so much so that the characters helpfully recapitulate the salient elements of the plot every couple of chapters. As a supernatural tale it is unconvincing. It is definitely worth reading but, for me at least, it was no page-turner and not what I would call a "ghost story". ( )
  JosephCamilleri | Jan 1, 2022 |
Achtung: Rezension bezieht sich auf das Hörbuch!

Die Gestirne (The Luminaries), deutsche Übersetzung von Melanie Walz, gelesen von Sascha Rotermund, hat diverse Preise gewonnen, nicht zuletzt den bekannten Man Booker Preis. Seit November diesen Jahres liegt es in deutscher Übersetzung im btb-Verlag vor, die Hörbuchfassung erschien zeitgleich im Hörverlag.

Bei Literaturschock.de wurde angeregt, statt der gewohnten Leserunden mal eine 'Hörrunde' zu machen.

Da ich gewohnheitsmäßig sehr viele Hörbücher konsumiere, war ich begeistert, zumal sich die Inhaltsangabe auch noch gut anhörte. Da habe ich dann großzügig darüber hinweg gesehen, dass es sich natürlich um die deutsche Übersetzung aus dem englischen handelte, denn wenigstens handelte es sich um eine ungekürzte Lesung (4 mp3-CDs, Laufzeit: ca. 30h 43). Goldrausch in Neuseeland, 19. Jahrhundert, ein Kriminalroman und viktorianisches Epos -- wie konnte ich da widerstehen?


Der Klappentext lautet wie folgt:


Neuseeland, zur Zeit des Goldrausches 1866: Als der Schotte Walter Moody nach schwerer Überfahrt nachts in der Hafenstadt Hokitika anlandet, trifft er im Rauchzimmer des örtlichen Hotels auf eine Versammlung von zwölf Männern, die einer Serie ungelöster Verbrechen nachgehen: Ein reicher Mann ist verschwunden, eine opiumsüchtige Hure hat versucht, sich das Leben zu nehmen, und eine ungeheuerliche Summe Geld wurde im Haus eines stadtbekannten Säufers gefunden. Mit der Stimme von Sascha Rotermund wird der Hörer hineingezogen in ein Geheimnis, wie mit Goldstaub bestreut und in Opium getränkt.


Ich wurde tatsächlich schnell in die Geschichte gezogen, aber genauso schnell verlor ich den Faden.

Das ganze Buch besteht aus unzusammenhängenden Fragmenten, die erst nach und nach teilweise zusammengefügt werden. Ein rundes Ganzes ergibt sich auch am Schluss nicht.

Auch zurückzugehen, um etwas noch mal anzuhören war praktisch unmöglich, da die Kapitel so vielsagende Namen hatten wie: Sonne im Steinbock, oder Saturn in der Waage, Widder im Schützen, etc.


Überhaupt ist mir der Zusammenhang mit den Gestirnen komplett entgangen. Ich habe bis zum Schluss nicht herausgefunden, welcher Charakter welchem Sternbild/Planeten zugeordnet war. Bei Vorlage eines Buches wäre es sicher möglich gewesen, das herauszufinden, aber bei einem Hörbuch...


Hinzu kam, dass entweder merkwürdig unpassende Begriffe benutzt wurden, oder der Sprecher etwas anderes gelesen hat, als im Buch stand -- gefühlt kam beides vor.

Natürlich ist das nur ein Eindruck, den ich hatte, denn weder habe ich die relevanten Stellen aufgeschrieben, noch habe ich das Original vorliegen, so dass ich mir selbst eine Meinung bilden könnte. Dem Interview mit der Übersetzerin entnahm ich, dass es ein sehr anspruchsvolles Unterfangen war, den eigenwilligen Stil der Autorin in eine passende deutsche Version zu transferieren.


Die zum Teil doch seltsame Wortwahl war jedoch nicht förderlich, um das Gehörte gut zu behalten, oder einsortieren zu können. Der Stil der Autorin hat mir persönlich überhaupt nicht zugesagt, und obwohl ich die Geschichte an sich interessant und auch spannend fand, gab es für mich zu viele Faktoren, die einen ungetrübten Genuss verhindert haben. Vielleicht müsste ich weitere knapp 31 Stunden investieren, um beim zweiten Durchlauf die Dinge wahrzunehmen, die mir beim ersten Mal entgangen sind. Jemandem, der wie ich gerne Hörbücher anhört, würde ich unbedingt empfehlen, sich die gedruckte Fassung dazu zu kaufen. Außerdem wäre es sicher hilfreich, wenn man ein Fan des Sprechers wäre, denn obwohl es bestimmt schwierig ist so viele Dialoge vorzulesen (es gibt oft keinen Hinweis darauf wer was sagt), fand ich, dass ein anderer Sprecher vielleicht mehr daraus hätte machen können. Die Stimme dieses Sprechers variierte hauptsächlich zwischen normal und Geschrei, was mir in den Ohren wehtat. Ich war also beständig dabei, die Lautstärke anzupassen -- je nachdem, ob viel geschrien oder normal vorgelesen wurde.

Trotz all der positiven Pressestimmen, und der vielen Preise, die dieses Buch erhalten hat, kann ich persönlich es nicht uneingeschränkt empfehlen -- zumindest nicht in der Hörfassung. Das Buch beschreibt nicht den geordneten Lauf der Gestirne, sondern mehr das Chaos des Urknalls. ( )
  Belana | Dec 15, 2021 |
Set in New Zealand in 1866, the story of a prospector who sets out to make his fortune on the goldfields and is drawn into a complex mystery involving a series of unsolved crimes. ( )
  dualmon | Nov 17, 2021 |
I enjoyed reading this. It is like trying to solve a puzzle with the clues thrown up by the different narrators. Catton is good in characterization and in creating atmosphere with detailed descriptions of the scenes. The dialogue is also well written - it draws you in and speeds up the plot. I don't get the astrology thing but it doesn't affect the enjoyment of the book. However, the ending isn't that satisfactory. Catton sets up Francis Carver as the book's biggest villain but the way he met his end is rather anti-climax. There are also some loose ends. How did the gold end up in Crosbie's cottage? What happened to Emery Staines? I don't quite get what happened to him. The relationship between Crosbie and Anna is also very bizarre. ( )
  siok | Sep 28, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 218 (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.
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'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.)
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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.

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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.
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