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Customer Review

15 of 20 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars I did not like this book at all and struggled to continue reading ..., 22 July 2014
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This review is from: The Luminaries (Paperback)
I did not like this book at all and struggled to continue reading it. It was chosen by my book club and so I had committed myself to finishing it, and carried it on a trip abroad with me, in spite of the fact that it had to go as hand luggage due to its enormous size and weight and so it had supplanted other more interesting books. I didn't buy the Kindle version as I thought it would be impossible to page back in such an enormous tome.
The style is pseudo-Dickensian, the enormous cast of characters is not - they are uninteresting run of the mill characters living dull lives in 19th century provincial New Zealand - yes, for all I know - an accurate description of an early European gold digging settlement - but far less interesting than, for instance Kate Grenville's 'The Secret River' (about early settles in Australia). Relationships with Maori people are tantalisingly unexplored and speech in (I assume accurate) Maori language is not translated. If Catton knows Maori language, why not use it and offer a translation? I fear that this is only one example of a conceit which neither furthers the plot, enhances the style, nor endears the reader.
Why the inexplicable astrology? Why the laboured sentences? Why the detailed description of the mind-set of each character before they have entered the action? Why the pseudo-Victorian summary of each chapter before it starts ('In which the lovers sleep through much commotion'... )? These are very irritating; they fail to stimulate curiosity and seem a very contrived and pointless device - just get on with it, for heaven's sake, this has gone on for long enough!
I became quite vindictive before page 200 (I was struggling long before that) with another 600 pages to go. Meanly, I relished the anachronisms (ha! I am sure Dickens never said 'That will do just fine' or 'not on my watch'). The author has a wonderful vocabulary, there was no need for me to be picky about anachronisms. But I was exasperated: the style is heavy, some sentences are unwieldy, so ponderous that you are distracted from the message into wondering again 'Why did no-one stop her?'
I admire the author's tenacity, imagination, historical research skills. In many ways I think she may be a very gifted writer. But this one is not for me - it's far too long and the story isn't interesting enough to carry that (metaphorical and literal) weight. I was bored to distraction.
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Showing 1-1 of 1 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 8 Nov 2014 13:43:48 GMT
Rick O' Shea says:
Yes I too noticed some glaring modern phrases such as those you mention - they pulled me up short. Maybe the sub editor was asleep by that point.
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