Hardback: 832 pages
Genre: Literary Fiction
Publisher: Granta Publications 2013
Source: Tywyn Public Library, Wales.
First Sentence: The twelve men congregated in the smoking room of the Crown Hotel gave the impression of a party accidentally met.
Favourite Quote: “Love cannot be reduced to a catalogue of reasons why, and a catalogue of reasons cannot be put together into love.”
Review Quote: The Luminaries is an impressive novel, captivating, intense and full of surprises. --Times Literary Supplement
Literary Awards: Man Booker Prize Winner 2013
My Opinion: Complex but engrossing.
At over 800 pages, this was rather long and when I collected the book from the library I was rather shocked not having realised when I ordered this just how massive this novel was. As a friend commented it was a good thing thing I did not fall asleep reading it in bed, dropping this may well have been painful. Joking apart I was at first put off by the sheer size and reading the blurb the number of main characters. This was going to take some concentration, in fact it took me at least 100 pages before I really got into this and my early fears of not being able to read it all were banished as I began to understand the plot.
It is a great achievement for the 28 year old author that she should have won the 2013 Man Booker Prize against 150 other authors whose novels were also submitted this year.
Set in 1866 the story transports us to New Zealand during the gold rush. It is a world of banking, shipping, seances, drugs, sex and lots of mystery. As the novel opens Walter Moody newly arrived in the small gold rush town of Hokitika encounters a group of twelve men gathered in secrecy for a meeting in a hotel. A series of unexplained events in the township have drawn these men together, a wealthy man has vanished, a prostitute has tried to take her own life and a large fortune has been found in the home of a local drunkard. Walter Moody finds himself drawn into the group as they all take turns to relate their stories and gradually all is revealed as the mystery unfolds in a story of astral influences and fortunes, that is amazingly complex but still a pleasure to read.
As I mentioned earlier it took me a good few pages to feel properly involved in the storyline but once I had become so it was an engrossing tale, which I am glad I have read. In conclusion then a complex and engrossing novel which by the time you have finished the last page will have all fallen into place leaving the reader satisfied.
An interview with Eleanor Catton.
Eleanor Catton was born on September 24th 1985 in Canada while her father, a New Zealand graduate, was completing a doctorate at the University of Western Ontario. She lived in Yorkshire until the age of 13, before her family settled in Canterbury, New Zealand. She studied English at the University of Canterbury, and completed a Master's in Creative Writing at The Institute of Modern Letters, Victoria University of Wellington. She wrote her first novel, The Rehearsal, as her master's thesis.
The biographical information and photo used in this post are with thanks to the following websites, where you can also find more information about the author and her writing.
Goodreads Author Profile Eleanor Catton - Wikipedia YouTube Eleanor Catton on Twitter