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The Luminaries [Kindle Edition]

Eleanor Catton
3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (504 customer reviews)

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Book Description

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 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 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. It is full of narrative, linguistic and psychological pleasures, and has a fiendishly clever and original structuring device. 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 and will confirm for critics and readers that Catton is one of the brightest stars in the international writing firmament.


Product Description

Review

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

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

An intellectual deconstruction and a remarkable act of literary ventriloquism that truly feels as if it has been written in the same spirit as its antecedents. Although I felt the need to gallop through the book in pursuit of some answer that would satisfy my increasingly painful curiosity, I found myself frequently slowing down to savour Catton's characterisations and gentle wit. The Man Booker judges have really struck gold. --Sunday Express

For the scale of her ambition and the beauty of its execution, somebody should give that girl a medal. --Lucy Daniel, Daily Telegraph

Carefully executed, relentlessly clever, easy to read… Catton sustains a human comedy that sweeps through the hope, the mud, the lies and the secrecy underlying gold fever. It is not so much a morality play as an astute celebration of the power of the story. --Irish Times<br --Paperback review, Sunday Herald

'The 2013 Man Booker prize-winner is, even in paperback, a hefty tome. Catton's irresistibly intricate plot makes the pages fly by. Snappy dialogue, crisp humour and grand vision sets this far above its rivals' ***** --Paperback review, Daily Telegraph

'Truly dazzling' --Paperback review, Sunday Herald

Addictive [and] very clever. (The Times)

A breathtakingly ambitious mystery ... Catton's playful and increasingly virtuosic denouement arrives at a conclusion that is as beautiful as it is triumphant. (The Daily Mail)

A dream novel: stellar in every way. (The Economist)

'A book to curl up with and devour, intricately plotted and extravagantly described, a pastiche of the Victorian sensation novel in the same smart yet playful vein as Sarah Waters.' (The Guardian)

An immense feat of structuring and plotting which means that this novel starts as a gentle stroll and ends with the exhilarating sense of running downhill ... Ambitious, intricate, spectacular' --Independent

'I enjoyed The Luminaries, Eleanor Catton's game of literary Cluedo so much I had to ration myself to 50 pages a day' --'Book of the Year', Lucy Hughes-Hallett, Observer

Review

‘Addictive [and] very clever.’ (The Times)

‘A breathtakingly ambitious mystery ... Catton's playful and increasingly virtuosic denouement arrives at a conclusion that is as beautiful as it is triumphant.’ (The Daily Mail)

‘A dream novel: stellar in every way.’ (The Economist)

'A book to curl up with and devour, intricately plotted and extravagantly described, a pastiche of the Victorian sensation novel in the same smart yet playful vein as Sarah Waters.' (The Guardian)

‘An immense feat of structuring and plotting which means that this novel starts as a gentle stroll and ends with the exhilarating sense of running downhill ... Ambitious, intricate, spectacular.’ (The Independent)

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 2797 KB
  • Print Length: 849 pages
  • Publisher: Granta Books; First Edition edition (27 July 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00D2JDNQ4
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (504 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #539 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
361 of 384 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A slave to its structure 27 Aug. 2013
By MisterHobgoblin TOP 500 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
The Luminaries is a tale of lies and deceit, fraud and vengeance, set amongst the goldfields of Western New Zealand in the 1860s. It was a time when men had dreams of getting rich very quickly based as much on luck as on hard work. But just as some are content to rely on the odds, others are willing to change the odds in their favour by nefarious means.

So when Walter Moody, a recent Scottish émigré, accidentally gatecrashes a clandestine meeting of twelve local businessmen, he is drawn into their various shady dealings. There is gold lost and found; a missing man; a dead drunk; a suicidal prostitute and a very sinister, scar-faced sea captain. There are tensions between the white settlers and the Chinese camp. Oh, and there is a token Maori. The writing, for the most part, is really good. The setting is conveyed well and the reader feels fully transported through space and time into a complex and authentic world.

But, and it's a big But, the involvement of so many players makes the novel far too complicated and grinds the pace down to a glacial speed. Every player has to have a relationship with each of the other players, resulting in many events being played out multiple times from multiple perspectives. Moreover, the use of reportage to create a non-linear time structure heightens the feeling of repetition. When it seems that the novel has finally moved on, it gets brought back again and again and again. The twelve main characters are supposed to represent different signs of the zodiac and perhaps those who like astrology would recognise their traits and interactions. But for the lay reader, the characters seem rather indistinguishable and, frankly, not much more than a personification of their job.
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34 of 36 people found the following review helpful
By Marius Gabriel TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I had been greatly looking forward to reading this, but my experience with the book was somewhat akin to that of a swimmer who plunges eagerly into a river, but finds the opposite bank a lot further away, and the river a lot deeper, than first appeared... and the whole idea of making the crossing comes to lose its appeal.

It's not that it's a bad book. It's a beautifully-written pseudo-Victorian mystery, with a strong sense of time and place. Eleanor Catton's "The Rehearsal" was a very promising debut, flawed by over-complexity and over-ambitiousness. The problems of that book, far from being resolved, have been greatly compounded in "The Luminaries." It's simply too long (some 850 pages), too complex and too dull for pleasurable reading. Pseudo-Victorian fiction is a morass for inexperienced writers, tending to the production of much scribbling and damn'd thick, square books -- whereas the Victorians themselves could often be very concise.

Praised to the skies by critics, garlanded with prizes, this is a book which most ordinary readers will struggle with, and the reviews here show that. There are too many characters to remember, too many conversations to follow, too many mysteries to unfold. In a novel that should have been highly original, the reader is left with an impression of endless repetition, of scenes that sprawl and loll, of a prolixity of characters too much alike to one another to inspire interest. Like many other reviewers, I was numbed by boredom, despite the best will in the world.

The book could have worked very well at half the length or less, and with half the characters or less. A great pity. But Eleanor Catton is a very young author who is still learning her craft, and I am confident that her prodigious talent will produce a far better and more enjoyable book very soon.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing 22 Nov. 2014
Format:Paperback
Eleanor Catton is obviously a very talented writer, but this ambitious novel is a deeply unsatisfying read unless you enjoy astrological patterning and other devices more than a good story and characters with whom you feel engaged. I'm not afraid of a challenging read and will generally finish a book once I've started it, to give the writer every chance, but after 303 pages of this I began to groan - the style is excellent and I see the cleverness of the way it's constructed, but there's a fatal lack of interesting, distinctive characters. There's a piece of very basic advice for wannabe writers: plot should spring from character, rather than characters being shoehorned into a pre-formed plot. Here it feels as if the characters (often two-dimensional) and their actions only exist to fit the patterns. Catton isn't a wannabe but an accomplished writer, which makes it all the more disappointing. It feels mean to give such clever, complex writing only 2 stars, but the fact is that I can't finish it and don't like it, so I can't honestly give it more.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
By Denis Vukosav TOP 50 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
‘The Luminaries’ by Eleanor Catton is a demanding novel due to its volume, but a book whose quality certainly deserves your time.

With its more than 800 pages, ‘The Luminaries’ is the longest novel that had won ‘Man Booker Prize’ in its long history, what author achieved few days ago.

Its story begins when a young man named Walter Moody comes by ship to gold mining town in New Zealand.
When he will stay to the nearest hotel to the quay, he will come to a meeting of twelve local men who had met due to the mystery and some even illegal incidents that happened in their town.
Two weeks before, in one night known hermit and drunk died in a shack that overlooks the town, young man who became rich in gold mine disappeared and ship's captain of bad reputation cancelled all of his business.
Known prostitute was arrested, due to her connection to all three of them...

Each of them twelve will tell his story about these events to Walter and this is how the story will proceed, while reader will find out what brought each of these men to this gathering.
Walter will also tell his story, that will eventually show also related to the other stories, although at first it doesn't seem so...

A novel is divided into twelve chapters, one a bit smaller in its length to the previous, after some time had passed between them, explaining a bit more meeting that happened in first chapter.

It is evident that in novel construction author deliberately used a lot of numerology, astrology and symbolism in the way that when reader will finish 12th chapter she/he will be again at the novel beginning, and what was then a bit less unclear will now be fully understandable.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars I love it. I can't really explain why, but I love it!
If I wait until I finish it there would be no review until 2016!!

I love it.

I'm uncertain what I'm reading about at times. Read more
Published 1 day ago by Bruce Boogie
3.0 out of 5 stars I've started so I'll finish.......
This ambitious novel of over 800 pages is set in the gold rush of New Zealand in the 1860s. The complex plot involves stolen goods, stolen identities, greed, love, murder and... Read more
Published 1 day ago by Wynne Kelly
3.0 out of 5 stars A good read but ultimately unsatisfying
Brilliantly researched, The Luminaries held my attention (and closely too) for about 700 of its 830 pages. Read more
Published 1 day ago by William Peskett
5.0 out of 5 stars Must read books
Excellent
Published 1 day ago by Dors
5.0 out of 5 stars wonderful from first word to last
I read the book in 6 days on holiday. The mystery is complex and progressively clarifies. The characters are vivid and accessible. Great book. Read more
Published 4 days ago by Graeme Young
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
good novel
Published 4 days ago by valerie gundle
5.0 out of 5 stars great book
I found this book really interesting. totally absorbing. I read this while travelling around New Zealand, so it had a greater resonance, especially travelling through Hokitika... Read more
Published 8 days ago by mrsmaz
4.0 out of 5 stars Uncommon and enjoyable
A unique tale set against the uncommon backdrop of the New Zealand goldfields. There were lots of characters weaving in and out of the story and this was sometimes confusing but... Read more
Published 9 days ago by Kym Hamer
4.0 out of 5 stars The end is rather rushed which was a little disappointing but I would...
I have just finished reading this book and I found it very enjoyable if a bit of an effort. As others have said it has a huge plot which twists and grows throughout the book. Read more
Published 11 days ago by Lullaby
3.0 out of 5 stars Not as interesting as the blurb makes it sound.
This starts well but becomes increasingly implausible and annnoying. I could not relate to, or care deeply about, any of the characters. Read more
Published 11 days ago by daisy
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