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The Luminaries [Kindle Edition]

Eleanor Catton
3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (533 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


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

Highly original, meticulously constructed, thematically convincing, this is a richly evocative mystery. --Good Book Guide

Wonderfully vivid… The Luminaries deserves to win the Man Booker Prize this year. The characters are so lush and the mystery is so complex. Usually I find that a novelist is either an exceptional writer or an exceptional storyteller, but rarely are they both. With this book Catton has proved, at least in my eyes, that she's the exception to the rule. --Booker Marks blog

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

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

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 mor --'Fiction of the Year', Economist

That someone should write this beautifully at 28 is the kind of thing that keeps my dentist busy replacing ground-down enamel but there's no denying that this nod to the Victorian mystery novel is a fantastic achievement in its own right - and a gripping read. --'Books of the year', Vice magazine

A good old-fashioned page-turner set in New Zealand goldrush... Its narrative structure, mirroring astrological movements in a beautifully-wrought minuet, really set it apart. --'Literary fiction of the year', Independent on Sunday


‘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 (1 Aug. 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 (533 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #555 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
370 of 394 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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40 of 43 people found the following review helpful
By Marius Gabriel TOP 500 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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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Sloppy and unfinished 25 Nov. 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I have an impression that by the end the author got tired of her novel, numerous characters and the need to tie up multiple story lines. Been tired, she didn't find it in herself to even properly complete the novel. She struggled for a bit and then simply dropped it letting the readers sort out lose ends and obvious contradictions. Ever diminishing chapters at the end with longish preambles look like a plan of a novel rather than the actual novel. I was mystified by the author's statement that "Carver found the bonanza at Wells' home", when the whole plot up until that chapter at the very end had been based on Carver not finding it! Or perhaps I was too tired to even look for the explanation. The Booker prize committee's logic, however, - that's a real mystery.
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127 of 140 people found the following review helpful
By Kiwi
My dominant feeling on finishing this book was one of self-congratulation in actually having made it to the end. I have joined the elite band of readers who have done so, but I have not made it to the super-elite group who not only finished it, but understood it (but then I wonder if there are many at all in this category).
Normally, I would give Booker-prizewinners a wide berth, fearing over-intellectualism and incomprehensible story lines, but here was one with a crime/mystery theme, and by a New Zealand author, and I'm a NZer myself so, here we go...
For the first 150 pages, I thought my Booker prejudices were validated: hard going, put-downable, especially when I considered the hundreds of pages still to come. But I stuck with it and, very gradually, I found myself getting drawn in, with a mounting curiosity as to where it was going (as one might hope with a mystery). Things were looking up! (aided, I should say, means of one of the characters providing a 2-3 page summary of the story so far at the end of Part I, some 350 pages in - very helpful, this, you can look forward to it). And so on to the full 827 pages, but, after all that, to a damp-squibbish ending. Was that it? - after all that?
Notwithstanding the critics' accolades, I dare to say I can't understand how this story can be highly rated. The book is far, far, too long, moving at a glacial pace; the story is stupifyingly complex, propped up with far too many coincidental events and long-shot chance happenings; then there's the sleight-of-hand techniques such as two characters having the same name (or was it one character having two names? - can't remember, it's gone); and don't get me started on the resolution of the "missing bullet" saga - I'll keep this from you. Is this really award-winning stuff?
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Big Rich Fruity Pudding
'The Luminaries' is a work of vast architecture, populated with a cast of characters who, although not all as clearly defined as I would wish (Emery Staines is a wonderful... Read more
Published 23 hours ago by A. Stark
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing
The basis of the story should have very good. However the rambling way it was told was very long winded and times quite boring. Read more
Published 1 day ago by Barbara-Jean
5.0 out of 5 stars The best book I have read in years.
The best book I have read in years. Worthy of all the praise.
Published 1 day ago by Amazon Customer
1.0 out of 5 stars The book arrived in perfect order and very quickly
The book arrived in perfect order and very quickly. Just could not get into this book at all, even though it had been recommended by a family reader. Read more
Published 4 days ago by Mrsstellaemorton-smith
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Christmas gift.
Published 7 days ago by Dr. Peter Brown
2.0 out of 5 stars Not worth the effort - a non story
This was one of the most unusual books I have ever read. It took until almost half way through till I understood what the story was about and what it was aiming at as that was not... Read more
Published 9 days ago by Janet
4.0 out of 5 stars Not one for a quick skim
I was recommended this book by a friend and bought it without reading anything about it. The cover, and name, in my opinion do not really match the contents. Read more
Published 20 days ago by J. Griffin
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Amazing book
Published 21 days ago by Miss V C Crawley
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
good value
Published 22 days ago by Frances Walker
1.0 out of 5 stars Throw this book away violently
As someone said "this isn't a book for putting down - it's a book for throwing violently away". Read more
Published 24 days ago by ChrisE
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