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The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton
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The Luminaries (2013)

by Eleanor Catton

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3,3241962,431 (3.78)1 / 583
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English (186)  Dutch (6)  German (1)  French (1)  All languages (194)
Showing 1-5 of 186 (next | show all)
With almost 500 pages of exposition before the threads start to resolve themselves, I can understand why this will be a tough read for some, but I think the effort is fully repaid in the waning sections of the book.

( )
  asxz | Mar 13, 2019 |
a thrilling yarn with a plot as intricate and confounding as sherlock holmes falling down a flight of stairs ( )
  haarpsichord | Nov 5, 2018 |
The Luminaries is one of those books I find very difficult to review. It's not exactly that I disliked it, but I was expecting to enjoy it more, given that it's been awarded the Man Booker Prize.

While the narrative has an impressively clever structure --with sections getting increasingly shorter, rhythm getting increasingly quicker--, it works against the plot, rather than adding to it; this, in turn, gets repetitive and, oddly enough, the book is full of red herrings left unexplained. Besides, all the astrological symbolism was completely lost on me, and the cyclical references were too sparse to make for a consistent theme.

I felt the same ambivalence about its style. I appreciate Eleanor Catton's attempt at authenticity in her choice of words, but overall the language didn't feel polished enough, and even a little bland in all its wordiness. There are lots of parentheses and asides, telling --rather than showing-- us things about the characters that should have been conveyed within the narrative in a more organic way. Additionally, characters are not given a distinctive voice, and at times I found myself having difficulties telling them apart, and what's worse, not caring at all about them.

All in all, it was an interesting enough read for me to be willing to give Ms. Catton a second chance --there is potential greatness in her writing, I believe-- but I think The Luminaries could have used a good deal of pruning, and perhaps a little more proofreading, which would have certainly turned it into a much better book. ( )
  Marsar | Sep 27, 2018 |
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 |
Showing 1-5 of 186 (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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Dedication
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.
Quotations
'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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Information from the Dutch Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
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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.

» see all 8 descriptions

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