Customer Reviews


534 Reviews
5 star:
 (201)
4 star:
 (97)
3 star:
 (100)
2 star:
 (68)
1 star:
 (68)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favourable review
The most helpful critical review


5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Far more enjoyable than its daunting reputation might suggest
I approached this book with some degree of trepidation. Several reviews from hardened literary critics implied that while its technical merits made it worthy of its Booker Prize win, actually reading it was a bit of a hard slog, thanks to its length and its complex structure. It sat on my Kindle for several months, until, confronted with the prospect of a 27 hour plane...
Published 8 months ago by Georgiana89

versus
370 of 394 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A slave to its structure
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...
Published 21 months ago by MisterHobgoblin


‹ Previous | 1 2 354 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars i liked the way it read as a modern day Wilkie ..., 11 Aug. 2014
This review is from: The Luminaries (Kindle Edition)
I was bought this as a retirement gift and you certainly need plenty of time to read it. Not one to read in bite sized chunks! On balance, I think the considerable commitment needed to plow through this book is worthwhile but it is far too long and I found the storyline confusing. I had to search for an online synopsis to sort out several key facts! I gather from reading the reviews that this is sort of the point but I'm afraid I just found it frustrating. i liked the way it read as a modern day Wilkie Collins and will have a go at her first book which sounds interesting. I can see why it won the Booker Prize - very original and clever, but in my opinion far too clever!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars I've started so I'll finish......., 28 Feb. 2015
By 
Wynne Kelly "Kellydoll" (Coventry, UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Luminaries (Paperback)
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 retribution. The plotting is so intricate and linked to the signs of the zodiac and the astrological year – even to the extent of the chapters becoming shorter with the days…..

It starts with a meeting of twelve men (the twelve months of the year?) and they are joined by another man, Moody (thirteen lunar months?) I readily confess to not making head nor tail of the various charts and soon gave up trying to interpret them. The many press reviews of the book refer to it being “dazzling”, “irresistible” and “breathtaking”. I agree that the writing is good but the plotting is so complex it is hard to grasp and keep a track of. I only finished this book yesterday and already I would have a problem trying to explain the plot to someone. Another problem (for me) was that the characters were all a bit of a blur and I found it hard to differentiate between them. I had to keep reminding myself which one was Ah Souk and which Quee Long.

I am not averse to lengthy novels and have happily read my way through War and Peace, Middlemarch and The Goldfinch but I found The Luminaries a real slog.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A Whodunit For Astrologers That Won The Booker, 22 Mar. 2014
By 
I. D. R. Varley "iandavidrobertvarley" (Derby, Derbyshire, England, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Luminaries (Hardcover)
I managed to read all of 'The Luminaries'! Can I have a medal please? I learned something of New Zealand and it's history, so it wasn't a complete waste of time. Also, I'm willing to concede that the astrological stuff went over my head, hence my willingness to give it two stars rather than one.

'The Luminaries' is basically a pretentious whodunit written in a mannered and stilted way to make it read as if it was written about a hundred and fifty years ago. Whodunits are usually shallow with mostly flat characterization, this being no exception, so the author has overlaid it with gratuitous astrological nonsense to give it the appearance of having some depth. Unless you're an astrology expert guff like 'Mercury In Sagittarius' won't mean anything to you and Eleanor Catton ain't letting on what it means so you have to look it up. I did look it up along with other esoteric supernatural rubbish about the significance of ecliptics and true nodes that appears in the book's titles and I could see how some of it related vaguely to the story. However, apart from a brief mention of there not being a full moon in one particular February in 1866, it's hard to see how relevant astrology is to the story. None of the characters are astrologers. It does provide the author with a way of constructing the story in a modern, aesthetically pleasing but nevertheless fractured way but personally I'd rather read a good story told messily than a mediocre story told elegantly. 'The Luminaries' is the latter. The only interesting and, to my mind, properly formed characters are Anna and Lydia. All the men are two dimensional. Much has been made of the author's youth. I think her youth really shows in a bad way. I think she's a very immature writer.

Interestingly, the gold paint on the cover wore off while I was reading it so now it says 'The Minaries, Eanor Catton'! Appropriate for a story about a gold rush, I guess.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing, 22 Nov. 2014
This review is from: The Luminaries (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.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Maybe I'm missing something but this for me is the ..., 21 Jan. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Luminaries (Kindle Edition)
Maybe I'm missing something but this for me is the most uninteresting book I have tried to read in a long time. If it was a library book it would have been returned ages ago.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Tedious and probably overhyped, 23 April 2014
By 
jfp2006 (PARIS/France) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Luminaries (Paperback)
The Luminaries broke two records when it was given the Man Booker prize last year: the longest novel, and the youngest writer, to win the prize.
To my mind, it's one of the most rambling and most poorly constructed novels to have won, and Eleanor Catton is, I'm sorry to have to say, rather out of her depth.
The whole zodiac conceit, for one thing, is gratuitous and decidedly unconvincing. The idea is that twelve "stellar" characters are each associated with an astrological sign, while seven more important characters are presented (in the basically unhelpful "character chart" at the beginning of the novel - the map is even more unhelpful by the way) as "planetary". Then there is a "terra firma" character who, we are informed before the novel starts, is "deceased".
No clear justifications are given for these associations - but the way the book has been praised by sundry reviewers creates the impression that the reader is somehow not clever enough if he doesn't understand what's going on. Whereas, as far as I can see, it is Eleanor Catton trying to be too clever for her own good (and certainly for this particular reader's patience).
Even without the astrological dimension, the book is poorly put together. The unwitting intrusion of one character, Walter Moody, at the start, on what is presented as a top secret meeting of the twelve "stellar" characters, creates the impression that the reader will be guided by Moody's impressions, discoveries and interpretations as the novel develops. But then the different juxtaposed narratives become increasingly confused, and by the end Moody has disappeared altogether, without ever having become a convincing character in any way. Catton also tries, but again fails as a result of being inconsistent, to use an omniscient "we" (also definitively abandoned without any warning...)
As for the writing... Catton is sometimes able to evoke the 19th-century New Zealand setting in a convincing away. But she is at least equally capable of horrific linguistic clangers:
"It was therefore with a very well-concealed ignorance that Moody played interlocutor to Gascoigne, and Clinch..." (Play interlocutor?) She uses the non-existent "uncourteous" (but also the correct adjective "discourteous", later on). And then right at the end of the acknowledgements, she reserves a special word for, presumably, her partner: "Thank you - I to Thou". There may of course be a private allusion in that "Thou" (capital letter?) instead of "thee"; but it seems more likely that Catton has never studied a line of Shakespeare and does not know the difference between the two forms. And, in that case, it was rather a perilous exercise to attempt an 830-page pastiche of a 19th-century novel.
I regret the time and effort (and money) I expended on The Luminaries. If you start having misgivings by the time you get to page 50, take my advice: cut your losses. There are far better novels out there.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Read 20% but Life Is Just Too Short!, 6 April 2015
By 
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Luminaries (Kindle Edition)
My book group chose this as our next book and I thought it sounded intriguing from the cover blurb. Unfortunately it was about as interesting as the weather forecast for a Bank Holiday! I read 20% of the book before deciding that life was too short and the time I have to read each night, too precious to waste battling with, "The Luminaries". Part of the problem ( I think) was that I didn't care about any of the characters and hadn't (at that point) found any real storyline to compensate for this.
I posted to my Book Group that whilst I didn't consider myself to be a, "Quitter", (in general) but I was giving up entirely on the book. This resulted in a flurry of other people, also in the early stages of the book, also declaring that they had no interest in reading any further, and the book was, "Shelved" (pardon the dreadful pun!)
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Superb to awful., 11 Feb. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Luminaries (Paperback)
I kept changing my mind about this book - superb, awful - superb, awful - superb because the story is unique, a mysterious death set in the gold rush of 1865 New Zealand with a set of 19 characters worthy of Dickens, and because each of the 19 characters' dialogue is spot on, and because the writing style and insights into human nature are remarkably good - but awful because it is impossible to keep track of the each person's guilty connection to the dead man, Crosby Wells, and to their back stories. I struggled on because of my book group, otherwise I would have given up. The complex plot is almost impossible to unravel. In the end - awful.
Freak Out! My Life with Frank Zappa
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Halfway synopsis, 7 Mar. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Luminaries (Hardcover)
I abandoned it at least 5 times but kept coming back to it to find out why it won the Booker - till don't know why. Around halfway [page 400] the author gives a synopsis of what had transpired to date. If I had known about this I would have started there.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars " 'You tell me any old rubbish you like, and if you string it out until we ..., 19 Jan. 2015
By 
Jarah (London, England) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Luminaries (Paperback)
" 'You tell me any old rubbish you like, and if you string it out until we reach the junction at Kumara, then I shall count it as a very fine tale.' " (The Luminaries, page 713).
Clearly the Man Booker Prize judges felt the same way.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 2 354 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

This product

The Luminaries
The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton (Paperback - 3 April 2014)
£3.85
In stock
Add to basket Add to wishlist
Only search this product's reviews