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
"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)
Wonderful story and reader
Complex and brilliantly wrought
I am going to find other ones because he was great
Epic story set in a small town
Wow! An excellent narration of an outstanding literary work. I can highly recommend this audio book and I thank Mark Meadows for his brilliant rendition of such an intensely imaginative story, with such a wonderful array of accents, cultures, and genders. 10 out of 10.
thoroughly enjoyed the story. I listened to it twice while working. highly recommend this book.
I did enjoy this book. The narrator did a great job bringing it to life. Ms Catton has written a story that lingers in the memory after creating a vivid snap-shot of life on the 19th century New Zealand gold fields. It starts from small beginnings and gradually more and more characters and their stories (and perspectives/involvement) are added. It's really well written book and certainly has a poignancy to it.
You will either love this book or loathe it. Thankfully I love it and I would have given it more stars had I the option.
The story at times can be hard to follow since there are many interwoven characters each with stories of their own. Sometimes the descriptions are very long winded but so beautifully written. And the timeline of the story does jump forwards and backwards a lot. But if you can survive those aspects of the novel then you will be able to enjoy the wonderful plot that unfolds.
I did find it best with the kindle book since I kept loosing track of who was who and where was what. It is a book that demands attention and the narrator does a fabulous job. I recommend it to those with patience and an appreciation for subtle beauty.
I found the audiobook interesting and engaging... The story is a bit trivial but the manner in which it is told is excellent... The story is presented through the eyes of the different characters... Sometimes the voice of the narrator pretending to be a female was a bit contrived but overall, I really enjoyed the audiobook.
In the high end, it was a clever series of believable coincidences and intertwining lives and people with depth and foibles, seen from many angles. You need to pay attention to remember who knows who and how.
There were so many things about this book that I would have normally hated - the era, the gold rushes, too many male characters - but I LOVED this book!!! I was interested the whole way through, the characters were amazing and I loved and hated them intensely and alternately. The setting was made so vivid I felt that I could HEAR the birds, the gunshots, the voices... The magnificent things about this book though was that the author used the changing points of view to play with the passage of time so as to make the reader feel that they are JUST behind the action, JUST on the cusp of discovering the mystery - it kept me gripped from start to finish. The story and characters were an absolute feat of imagination - the twist and turns and the gasps as you realise what is about to happen just as it does. This book is an epic, in the best possible way. I would highly recommend it to anyone - even the readers who, like me, find the premise of it a bit dull on the surface.
"good novel made exceptional by its narration"
I am not sure I would have actually read this book. Much of it is dialogue and there are many characters to keep straight. The skillful narration & spot-on accents however, transformed this story into a mesmerizing tale. I recommend the audible version of this book to everyone I know!
This was a fantastic story brought to life by an incredible performance. I can't remember the last time I was so thoroughly drawn into a story.
"Narration SUPERB. Meadows makes story come alive"
Mark Meadows is the best narrator I have heard ever (I go through about 3-4 books/month). He does accents and voices like I have never heard anywhere else. From brittish upper and working class, french, german, irish, scottish, chinese and maori to women and men with soft or strong or shrude voices - it is a pure joy to listen to nearly 30 hours of fictional tale.
The era, world and ambience that Eleanor Catton creates as the backrop for her story through an abundance of detail and use of old language and interesting charactees and dialogue kept me enchanted. How can someone write this well in their 20's, I wonder?
The only thing I struggled with was the slow pace of the story, and my own need to try to figure out how to categorize this book. I never really figured out how the title, coordinates, planets and signs fit into the plot...and was this a murder mystery, treasure story, love story, new age stuff...? Still, cudos to both Eleanor and Mark. Good job.
"For Strange+Norrell Lovers, and more-"
Faux-Victorian gold rush story that's not so much a mystery, but an artfully complex and tight story about something like 20 characters that revolve, as do celestial bodies around a Sun, around a pair of unlikely protagonists. It's not primarily a love story, as I was led to believe, in the same way that Susanna Clarke's Strange and Norrell contains lovers, but is decidedly not romantic.
Literary amateur astrologists will adore this book; as will anyone with a soft spot for mild magic and mild romance. Living in this world was very, very fun.
"Ten hours into the book and I was bored."
I don't know who would enjoy this book. I can usually find some reason to finish a book but I was unwilling to commit any more time to the book.
Fewer characters with better character development. The plot seemed mired in muck and unable to move forward. Perhaps more editing to reduce the length.
I think the performance suffered more from the content.
I gave this book four hours of my time, the first hour I found myself nodding off. I quit listening,because I wasn't giving the book a fair shake if I was that sleepy, I tried again later for another three hours. I quit, the story line wasn't bad, but it was really boring, maybe because it was set in one room, with people recounting what had happened. More of a play, certainly not fast paced.
"Long and drawn out"
This book sounded great but I feel like it could have been told in a third as many pages and it would have been much better. The way the story was finally all out together at the end was not great either. Listening to it probably made it more difficult because I couldn't skim over parts that weren't important. I still feel like some of the story is completely unresolved.
What an epic tale! I feel the need to listen again to capture all I missed!
"Delightful and clever"
The Bones of Paris.
Another delightful twisting story about an age and place that little is written of.
"Narrator deserves an Oscar!"
Yes! I read the book when it came out but felt that I couldn't adequately untangle the complex narrative and that I missed a lot. Mark Meadows is absolutely, astonishingly capable of juggling the accents and intonations of dozens of characters, a dozen or so of those being main players. He can do Irish, Scottish, English, Swedish, Chinese, French, men, women, high class, lower class, and more. And none of the characters share HIS voice, the voice of the narrator! Mind blown. He has enriched my understanding of this wonderful novel a thousand fold.
There are so many characters, and all are incredibly detailed. My favorite sympathetic characters are the Maori, Te Rau Tauwhare, the owner of the Gridiron hotel, Edgar Clinch, and the newspaperman, Benjamin Lowenthal. I also really like the characters of Aubert Gascoigne and Walter Moody.
No, but what I wouldn't give for him to re-do Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell! The current version is incredibly disappointing. I couldn't even get through it. The multiple, painfully poor narrators of Cloud Atlas could all be masterfully replaced by Mr. Meadows. If Mark Meadows re-did that novel I would pay ANY price to hear it.
Impossible. There is no solid MAIN character. This is an ensemble effort. The best part of this audiobook is hands-down the narrator.
If you've read this novel and were left confused or unsure what to think, I highly recommend this audible version. Due to the complexity, I recommend glancing at the Wiki page or reading the first chapter to get a hold of the cast of characters so that you are better able to follow the story.
"Excellent performance but.."
Meadows' performance was excellent, with clear delineation of characters and a wide range of accents sustained throughout. The plot ultimately disappoints, as the astrological conceit is the driving force.
Cleverly constructed and eloquently executed story. I liked the astrological headings and complex weaving of characters. Very educational too. Never really knew much about the New Zealand gold rush before.
"Intriguing "Gold rush" crime adventure"
The intoxicating mix of voice tone, character motive and strange setting kept me wanting more- like the train journey I was on, I sped through this audio book whereas the great tome of a book had been off putting.
I'm unsure that I will as she complicated Luminaries with her astrological chart material, and the unusual conversational style worked better in audio.
The original scene in the Hotel Lounge I thought a great introduction, through Walter Moody.
Not much of an emotional reaction except maybe to Anna's plight.
"Worth sticking with"
Although difficult to get into and complex in its structure this novel is hugely rewarding by its end.
"I'm not sure why I didn't really enjoy this!"
this book was long. now, I like long books, so that was great. it started well, but then, just as it all came together my brain started asking questions of the plot I couldn't answer. maybe I missed something in the intricate plotting! spoiler alert, with what money did emery stains buy his hotel, or make his way in the world?! he only saw other peoples money going through his fingers, and then buys a hotel from nothing. anyway, I may have missed something, and the writing is good, I liked the style and the character examination. my main complaint is that so many characters were drawn I wanted them all to reach a conclusion of some kind and this didn't happen.. hmmm.. not for me. but give it a go anyway! its definitely a brilliant book!
"Too fragmented story line."
A tedious one to follow. Story jumps around and crowded with too many characters that really contribute nothing much to the plot.
"Fascinating mystery obscured by baffling structure"
I'm afraid I was unable to fathom the depths of this most unusual literary work. I quite enjoyed the plot at the level of a good mystery, but the greatest mystery of all is the significance of the zodiacal references. I now need to read a great many other reviews in the hope of illumination!
I liked the narrator's voices for the characters but found the overall style of narration rather irritating.
"Too much detail"
Not really. Sure, the author has researched this brilliantly but I like a faster paced book. This is long and slow and infinitesimally detailed. A great book for those who appreciate this sort of work I'm sure. Just not for me.
Yes to my friends who like this sort of thing. No to those who are more like me.
The performance was okay, can't think of any changes that would improve anything.
I could see it being made into one of those quality, long Sunday TV serials they used to make more of when I was younger.
I wouldn't go and see it if it was a movie.
Good book. Persevere with it and it delivers in spades. A book of connections and linkages but also one that conveys a raw feeling of a new frontier on the gold mines of New Zealand in the 1860's.
I'm sure it is very clever to reveal the complexities of plot and relationships by jumping backwards and forwards in time: it is also very confusing and irritating! Well performed by the narrator though.
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