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Os Luminares

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Este é um livro novo e inovador: novo pelo tema - um mistério por resolver no século XIX na cidade de Hokitika, Nova Zelândia, que reagrupa o destino de doze personagens - e inovador pela estrutura reinventada dos romances vitorianos. A corrida ao ouro, o tráfico de ópio, a prostituição e a expiação do passado de cada uma das personagens, além de um grandioso mistério por Este é um livro novo e inovador: novo pelo tema - um mistério por resolver no século XIX na cidade de Hokitika, Nova Zelândia, que reagrupa o destino de doze personagens - e inovador pela estrutura reinventada dos romances vitorianos. A corrida ao ouro, o tráfico de ópio, a prostituição e a expiação do passado de cada uma das personagens, além de um grandioso mistério por resolver, relevam a singularidade desta obra: é um thriller e um romance histórico, iluminado por referências astrológicas e chaves simbólicas orientadoras do destino das personagens. Surpreendente e viciante, eis ficção ao mais alto nível literário. Este romance de Eleanor Catton é incontornável, tendo sido reconhecido com o Man Booker Prize 2013.


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Este é um livro novo e inovador: novo pelo tema - um mistério por resolver no século XIX na cidade de Hokitika, Nova Zelândia, que reagrupa o destino de doze personagens - e inovador pela estrutura reinventada dos romances vitorianos. A corrida ao ouro, o tráfico de ópio, a prostituição e a expiação do passado de cada uma das personagens, além de um grandioso mistério por Este é um livro novo e inovador: novo pelo tema - um mistério por resolver no século XIX na cidade de Hokitika, Nova Zelândia, que reagrupa o destino de doze personagens - e inovador pela estrutura reinventada dos romances vitorianos. A corrida ao ouro, o tráfico de ópio, a prostituição e a expiação do passado de cada uma das personagens, além de um grandioso mistério por resolver, relevam a singularidade desta obra: é um thriller e um romance histórico, iluminado por referências astrológicas e chaves simbólicas orientadoras do destino das personagens. Surpreendente e viciante, eis ficção ao mais alto nível literário. Este romance de Eleanor Catton é incontornável, tendo sido reconhecido com o Man Booker Prize 2013.

30 review for Os Luminares

  1. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca

    The curious case of the 3-star review… I reviewed The Luminaries for We Love This Book; here I’ll simply attempt to explain why I gave such an accomplished book only 3 stars. It’s just the sort of book I should have given 5 stars: my MA is in Victorian Lit., Charles Dickens is a favorite author, and I adore historical fiction, particularly Victorian pastiche: Possession, The Crimson Petal and the White and English Passengers. And yet The Luminaries didn’t grab me. It has all the elements of a pi The curious case of the 3-star review… I reviewed The Luminaries for We Love This Book; here I’ll simply attempt to explain why I gave such an accomplished book only 3 stars. It’s just the sort of book I should have given 5 stars: my MA is in Victorian Lit., Charles Dickens is a favorite author, and I adore historical fiction, particularly Victorian pastiche: Possession, The Crimson Petal and the White and English Passengers. And yet The Luminaries didn’t grab me. It has all the elements of a pitch-perfect Dickensian mystery novel: long-lost siblings, forgeries, opium dens, misplaced riches, a hidden cache of letters, illegitimate offspring, assumed identities, a séance, a witty and philosophical omniscient narrator’s voice, and so on. If this was a Victorian paint-by-numbers competition, Catton would have top marks. But something is lacking here. I can’t help feeling that despite its technical perfection, The Luminaries is a book without a beating heart. Lest I seem unfair, here are some more of the novel’s strengths: Catton proves a dab hand at revealing characters through both minute physical description and acute psychological insight. She’s especially good at examining interiority vs. exteriority (one of my favorite lines was “he built his persona as a shield around his person”), and the ways stories are altered in subsequent retellings. Her use of contemporary slang, circumlocutions (“d—ned”), chapter introductions (“In which…”), and a host of overarching fairy tales and ideologies, including the angel-whore dichotomy of nineteenth-century womanhood and the witch vs. the babes in the wood (brothel-keeping fortuneteller Lydia Wells against Anna Wetherell and Emery Staines), is all spot-on. Staines, in particular, is a brilliant creation: a thoroughly amiable, guileless naïf to rival any of Dickens’s fresh-faced heroes. And, indeed, the echoes of Dracula, Moby-Dick and the very best of Dickens – Our Mutual Friend especially, but also Bleak House and Great Expectations – are well-earned. If I had to list a few minor quibbles, I’d mention that some of the more fascinating characters fade into the background as the novel progresses, rendering the original council of 13 largely irrelevant: brooding Walter Moody would have made for a great everyman protagonist, and Tom Balfour promised to be a delightfully tenacious detective like Dickens’s Inspector Bucket. Moreover, especially in the first half, Catton is over-reliant on the tête-à-tête as a means of advancing the plot; it is easy to grow weary of the tedious string of one-to-one meetings. My main problem, however, is with the opacity of the astrology angle. The novel’s supposed uniqueness lies in this astrological framing device, but I remain unconvinced. The esoteric material (including horoscope charts at the start of each Part, chapter titles that reference zodiac signs, and lunar cycles that bring the narrative back around to meet its starting point) adds little, if anything, to the plot. Readers don’t need overt references to the Age of Pisces to spot themes of twinship and hiddenness – the clues are there already. Furthermore, Catton’s commitment to portraying a full year’s astrological changes requires looping back to revisit the events of 1865-6 for almost the full last quarter of the novel (thus, also, the unsubtle metaphor of the ouroboros – the ancient symbol of a snake biting its own tail – and the translation of the town name “Hokitika” as something like “full-circle”). I do now understand how sly that cyclical technique is (it also ties in with the cover image of the waning moon); thank you to Elizabeth Knox, Catton’s fellow New Zealander novelist, for explaining that each successive Part is half the length of its predecessor – such that before long the chapter introductions are longer than the text they preface: commentary exceeds action. While I certainly recognize the skill that such a formal stricture displays, once again this is proof to me of academic accomplishment rather than novelistic vitality. In this respect, the novel appears too clever for its own good. It’s a somewhat dispiriting experience for the reader to feel the plot winding down around page 600, only to realize that another 230+ pages remain. I will make a defiant claim here: I hold that the novel should have ended on page 628 (for those with page numbers different to my ARC, that’s after the first chapter of Part Four). Apart from a first-rate courtroom scene, you won’t miss much after that point. You will already have unravelled all the vagaries of the plot by then, and you can end on the sweet note of Anna and Staines arriving in New Zealand, ready to face the myriad adventures that await them in the previous 627 pages. If not there, page 622 would do (the end of Part Three), or perhaps page 717 (the end of Part Four). But, alas, it’s as if Catton just doesn’t know when to put the book to rest. In scope and seriousness, The Luminaries rivals almost any Victorian triple-decker – an impressive feat from a 28-year-old author, there’s no denying that. (Am I jealous at the scale of her accomplishment, given that she’s two years my junior? Perhaps, a touch. Still, I feel I’ve been fair here.) I love door-stopper novels – when every page is necessary. But when, as is the case here, nearly a quarter of the page count feels superfluous, there’s something ever so slightly off. I wish I could have deemed The Luminaries a five-star book. It’s a rollicking, meticulously plotted mystery, as well as an enjoyable read. Plus it’s always nice to see something a bit different on the Booker longlist. It deserves its accolades thus far and I do hope it makes the shortlist, but did I love it? No; I admired it, but it didn’t earn my affection. Ergo, three stars.

  2. 3 out of 5

    Luke

    I am ashamed. I am a foolish reader who, like many, take on a booker short-list, or a booker winner, and expect it to wow me. And it did, and it didn't. I have an unsophisticated mind. To any reader who reads books as an art critic views a great master, they will read and hear the subtleties of the writer's mind as they structure their work, layer upon layer, until a masterpiece is drawn. They will see and know the influences that formed the concept and guided the writer's pen in its construction. I am ashamed. I am a foolish reader who, like many, take on a booker short-list, or a booker winner, and expect it to wow me. And it did, and it didn't. I have an unsophisticated mind. To any reader who reads books as an art critic views a great master, they will read and hear the subtleties of the writer's mind as they structure their work, layer upon layer, until a masterpiece is drawn. They will see and know the influences that formed the concept and guided the writer's pen in its construction. And reading Eleanor Catton's masterful use of the English language, and her homage to the Victorian masters of literature, I was greatly humbled, and completly understood why she was shortlisted. She is a sublime writer. For a 'proper' review I would urge you to read Antinomasia's review on GR. No review have I read sofar is so discerning and informed. If I had read this before I bought and invested so much time reading a book too long for this reader to enjoy, I would never have bought it in the first place. It is a book for the discerning reader, and not the 'pop' reader, who likes his fiction to the point, entertaining, engrossing, informative, and exercising (to a degree)... well I'm an easy read... I am a lazy reader, prolific, but utimately shallow. Present me with too many concepts and inventions in a book then I grow impatient. Join too many 'exercises' in the writer's craft together, and I become frustated. Strip away the artists concept, and if I do not have a picture that I can glimpse and enjoy for all its colour and story then all I see is a few squirls of paint, thoughtfully applied, but ultimately a poor picture to fill a mind with interest. The Luminaries is an average story. It is like so many winners of the Tate Prize in art. How many winners would you really want to grace your shelves, tabletops and alcoves? And at 800+ pages the Luminairies is an 'instalation' and not a piece of work to sit upon a humble shelf, alongside my Cornwell, Austin and Dickens, Rupert Bear Albums, Tin Tin and Ant & Dec (Oh what a lovely pair!) My shelves no longer have room for such large tomes. What can I remove to the charity shop. Ant & Dec perhaps! So I found The Luminairies a master writer's/crtitic's wet dream, but as a story... well sentence by sentence it is beautifully crafted, but the shear number of them in relation to one scene, or description (particulary at the the beginning) wore me down. Characters were so many, their voices seem to merge into the same sound. They began to form a crowd in my mind, all speaking the same voice, their personalties indiscernible. The astrology was lost on me. The Luminaries is indeed a worthy Booker winner. It is art in writing. But for a reader who takes Alister McClean to the beach, Jeffrey Archer to bed, and lies on the summer grass filling his head with Asimov... I was never the reader for this book.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer (aka EM)

    I'm abandoning this book, with regret for having read it against my better judgement, without more thorough research. And yes, I'm two-starring and reviewing an unfinished book. If that offends you to your very core, then stop reading now. You've been warned! 1. There's a trend among reviews of three stars or less on this book to say things like: I’ll simply attempt to explain why I gave such an accomplished book only 3 stars. It’s just the sort of book I should have given 5 stars.... I am ashame I'm abandoning this book, with regret for having read it against my better judgement, without more thorough research. And yes, I'm two-starring and reviewing an unfinished book. If that offends you to your very core, then stop reading now. You've been warned! 1. There's a trend among reviews of three stars or less on this book to say things like: I’ll simply attempt to explain why I gave such an accomplished book only 3 stars. It’s just the sort of book I should have given 5 stars.... I am ashamed. I am a foolish reader who, like many, take on a booker short-list, or a booker winner, and expect it to wow me. And it did, and it didn't. I have an unsophisticated mind. Everyone here is raving about this book including people who write great novels themselves. I'm feeling pretty miserable about the fact that I couldn't get into it, forced myself to read halfway, started again and then gave up in despair. The Luminaries is a very long mystery novel which did not enlighten or move me. I am probably not a good judge.... I find these kinds of comments sad, but telling. Buck up, goodreaders who don't much like The Luminaries! There's enough conspiring against us to make us feel stupid; we don't need books to do that. 2. I'm way over feeling like it's some flaw in me when I don't like a book that almost everyone else likes. It's not me, book, it's you. I'm just not that into you. We haven't spent that much time together (then again, I've read more pages of you than are in the average contemporary novel), but I know you well enough to know this isn't going to work out. So farewell, best of luck, and I know you're going to find a whole heap o' love out there, coz' you're a real looker, you Man Booker. 3. Man Booker. FFS. 4. This book has two fatal flaws for me: 1) fussy structure over character; 2) metaphor gone wild. 5. Although it's not really metaphor gone wild; more like metaphor that is so subtle as to be irrelevant to most readers...unless they know astrology well enough that they can pick up what she's doing using astrological concepts to illuminate character behaviour/plot. I certainly do not, and did not. 6. I think astrology is fun, but dumb (here, in both senses). 7. On structure, I know it's there because I've been told so. But all I felt while reading, certainly in the first 300 pages, was: why is this language so expositional and why are these actions so overblown? Why do all these irrelevant details matter? 8. They don't. And neither do the characters, although each one is really intriguing. I would have liked them to be central to the plot, and for the plot to be ascendant over structure. I guess it wasn't in the stars. 9. Also, setting: New Zealand, 1860, during a gold rush and early settlement. I was so looking forward to being immersed in it; alas, I got absolutely no feeling for it. Biggest disappointment, by far. 10. The final blow comes from a GR review citing The Guardian's review: "It's not about story at all. It's about what happens to us when we read novels – what we think we want from them – and from novels of this size, in particular. Is it worthwhile to spend so much time with a story that in the end isn't invested in its characters?" 11. No. 12. I'm increasingly factoring opportunity costs into the arithmetic I do to determine when/if to abandon a book. In other words, I could've been reading Shirley. Or Anna Karenina. So, 12 reflections on The Luminaries. Heh. See what I did there?

  4. 5 out of 5

    Mohammed Arabey

    اطول رواية "832 صفحة" تحصل علي جائزة بوكر (في اكتوبر 2013) ومؤلفتها اصغر حاصلة علي الجائزة (إليانور كاتون,28سنة) في تاني تجربة روائية لها ولهذا استحقت البوكر Masterpiece of Art الرواية قطعة فنية متميزة وتستحق فعلا محاولة كتابة تقيم كامل في أطول مراجعة لي (في 2014) لتلك التجربة المتميزة كي تضح الصورة بالرغم من إنها تبدو لك كرواية "بوليسية" في المقام الاول، تعتمد علي عالم الفلك والابراج والتنجيم وقراءة الطالع وبالرغم من حجمها المرهق واهتمام المؤلفة بتفاصيل دقيقة لكل شخصية من الشخصيات العديدة وحتي تار اطول رواية "832 صفحة" تحصل علي جائزة بوكر (في اكتوبر 2013) ومؤلفتها اصغر حاصلة علي الجائزة (إليانور كاتون,28سنة) في تاني تجربة روائية لها ولهذا استحقت البوكر Masterpiece of Art الرواية قطعة فنية متميزة وتستحق فعلا محاولة كتابة تقيم كامل في أطول مراجعة لي (في 2014) لتلك التجربة المتميزة كي تضح الصورة بالرغم من إنها تبدو لك كرواية "بوليسية" في المقام الاول، تعتمد علي عالم الفلك والابراج والتنجيم وقراءة الطالع وبالرغم من حجمها المرهق واهتمام المؤلفة بتفاصيل دقيقة لكل شخصية من الشخصيات العديدة وحتي تاريخها وماضيها كل هذا في مدينة نيوزيلاندية صغيرة بأواخر القرن التاسع عشر أثناء حمي التنقيب علي الذهب إلا انك عندما تنتهي من الرواية تكتشف أن لايوجد شئ صار كما كان يبدو لك في البداية فستجد الرواية في المقام الأول تحمل بين طياتها عدالة شعرية وجانب رومانسي حقيقي وجذاب في ظل كل القسوة في عالم منقبي الذهب الفظ الخشن ، الخيانة ، الابتزاز ، القتل ، الخداع ، الافيون ، الانتقام وبلغة قوية جدا ومتميزة "كلاسيكية" ، ومرهق لغير المعتادين علي الادب الكلاسيكي كحالي ومفردات اللغة الانجليزية القوية والاهم الاسلوب المهذب المحترم، فلا يوجد الفاظ خارجة او اوصاف قبيحة ، أو حتي جنس صريح كما يلجأ المؤلفين للحصول علي بوكر او جائزة.. وبالرغم من وجود عاهرة في الاحداث، خيانة زوجية وغيرة إلا ان الرواية احتفظت بالجانب الاخلاقي بقوة ، وكما قلت، العدالة ولتكتمل لك الصورة تجد انك بحاجة لان تري دورة الرواية كاملة الصورة الكاملة الدورة الفلكية لرواية مقسمة ببراعة اثني عشر شخصية رئيسية تمثل الابراج ، و 7 شخصيات أخري تمثل الكواكب والشمس والقمر ستستمتع بمعرفه مصائر الشخصيات كلهم والاهم دورة القمر والشمس .. الشمس التي تمد القمر بالنور ، وحركه القمر من ظهور وخسوف والذي يقابله الصعود والهبوط في مصائر الشخصيات (الأبراج) تلك العلاقة الفلكية الغريبة الهندسية ولنقيم الرواية بتفصيل اكثر نبدأ بــ الاحداث ****** ---"الفصل الاول 27 يناير 1866"--- يدخل والتر مودي الي حجره التدخين بفندق بهوكيتيكا "نيوزيلاندا" في فتره التنقيب عن الذهب..فقد وصل لتوه للمدينه علي متن سفينه شاهد فيها شيئا لا يصدقه ولاحتي يستوعبه ,ولكنه يريد مكان هادئ فحسب ليستريح من رحلته والامطار الغزيره وذلك الحدث الغريب الذي شهده في السفينه وليجد نفسه في حجره التدخين اثني عشر رجلا متباينين في الاعمار,الطبقه الاجتماعيه وحتي الاصول والجنسيات يشعر انهم مجتمعين في امر ما ولكن كلهم يتجاهلونه ويتظاهرون بانهم ليسوا في اجتماع, ماعدا واحدا, يبدأ في أن يحاوره وبالحديث بينهما يعرف مودي سر الاجتماع الغامض في 14 يناير 1866,من اسبوعين, عثر علي ناسك وحيد مقتولا في كوخه..وتم اكتشاف ثروه ذهبيه بكوخه,وبعد نقل الملكيه بالبيع عن طريق بنك المدينه جائت منذ يومين من بداية الاحداث ارملته كمفاجأه فلا احد يعرف ان لـكروسبي ويلز زوجه من الاساس لتقلب كل شئ رأسا علي عقب وتوقف عمليه البيع وهذا ليس كل شئ, في نفس الليله تم العثور علي احد "العاهرات" أنـا ويزيريل في حاله اغماء واشتباه في محاولتها الانتحار وتنفي بقوه انها حاولت الانتحار وتبدأ في السؤال عن الشاب أيميري ستاينس والذي كان معها قبل ان تفقد وعيها,ولكن لايدري اي احد في المدينه اين ذهب ذلك الشاب, الذي صعد نجمه في فتره قصيره بمجرد وصوله للمدينه منذ اقل من عام ليصير احد اغنياء المدينه بالرغم من عمره الصغير..فقط اختفي بدون مقدمات بنفس تلك الليلة الغريبة وهذا ليس ابدا بكل شئ الاثني عشر رجلا..وسبع شخصيات الاخري لم تأتي يربط بينهم وبين البعض علاقات بها الكثير من الغموض والاسرار, خيانه, انتحال شخصيه,ابتزاز,انتقام وعلاقات اخري متشابكه..كلهم لهم علاقه او استفاده من وفاه الناسك, او كانوا علي علاقه مع العاهره او كانوا شركاء لشاب الثري المختفي كل هذا يتعرف عليه والتر مودي عن احداث ذلك اليوم "27 يناير" والتي كشفت ذلك التشابك بين الاثني عشر رجلا والعلاقات بينهم والتي اكتشفوها خلال احداث هذا اليوم فقط..سواء علاقتهم ببعضهم البعض او الاشخاص السبع الاخرين الذين لم يكونوا بالاجتماع السري في هذا الفصل"دائره داخل دائره" هو الاطول والاكبر "360 صفحه"تعريف بكل الابطال تقريبا..ولكنك لا تصل ابدا للحقيقه الكامله والتر مودي الشاب الذي يمثل "العقل/الحكمه" يتعرف علي الشخصيات كلها من خلال حكايتهم عن ذلك اليوم الحافل والذي اكتشف فيه كل واحد منهم انه مرتبط بشكل او بأخر في قضيه وفاه الناسك او في الثروه المكتشفه في بيته..والتي أدي وصول أرملته الي قلب كل شئ رأسا علي عقب ستشعر ان وصف الشخصيات وخلفياتها ضخم جدا ولا انكر اني شعرت بكثير من الملل وقتها فعلا خاصا ان المؤلفه تستخدم لغه انجليزيه قويه جدا افتكرت كتير روايه جي كي رلينج بسبب كثره الشخصيات وتشابك العلاقات بينهم لكن فكره ان المؤلفه عامله جدول الشخصيات ده ساعد كتير جدا وايضا تقديمها للشخصيات جاء بالتدريج فلن تشعر فعلا باي "لخبطه" لان كل فصل مرتبط بشخصيتين ولكي تستمتع بالروايه بحق,انقل جدول اسماء الابطال في البدايه *****الشخصيات الاثني عشر الاولي - الابراج -****** ♈ – Aries الحمل Te Rau Tauwhare تي رو تاواري - منقب احجار محلي ♉ – Taurus برج Charlie Frost شارلي فروست - موظف بالبنك ♊ – Gemini الجوزاء Benjamin Löwenthal بنجامين لونيثال - صحفي ♋ – Cancer السرطان Edgar Clinch ايدجار كلينش - صاحب فندق ♌ – Leo الاسد Dick Mannering ديك مانيرينج - صاحب مناجم ذهب ♍ – Virgo العذراء Quee Long كيو لونج - صائغ ذهب صيني ♎ – Libra الميزان Harald Nilssen هارولد نيلسين - تاجر عموله ♏ – Scorpio العقرب Joseph Pritchard جوزيف بريتشارد - صيدلي ♐ – Sagittarius القوس Thomas Balfour توماس بلفور - وكيل شحن ♑ – Capricorn الجدي Aubert Gascoigne اوبري جاسكوين - كاتب قضاء ♒ – Aquarius الدلو Sook Yongsheng سوك يونجشنج-صانع قبعات ♓ – Pisces الحوت Cowell Devlin كويل ديفلين - قس *****الشخصيات السبع الثانيه - الكواكب-***** عرفتهم المؤلفه في الصفحه الاولي بتأثيراتهم ولكننا هنا نزيد عليهم اسماء الكواكب وايضا تم ذكرهم بنفس الترتيب ☿ - Mercury عطارد Walter Moody والتر مودي - المنطق ♀ - Venus الزهره Lydia (Wells) Carver ليديا ويلز "كارفر" - الرغبه ♂ - Mars المريخ Francis Carver فرانسيس كارفر - القوه ♃ - Jupiter المشتري Alistair Lauderback اليستاير لاديرباك - السلطه ♄ - Saturn زحل George Shepard جورج شيبارد - القيود ☉ - Sun الشمس Anna Wetherell أنـا ويذريل - بعيده ,كانت قريبه ☽ - Moon القمر Emery Staines ايميري ستاينس - قريب,كان بعيد والشخصيه الاخيره هي اليابسه او الارض Crosbie Wells كروسبي ويلز - المتوفي في اول الروايه ليه بقي بقول تنقل الرموز والابراج وتخليها امامك وقت القراءه؟ او روايه "النجوم اللامعه" هيكلها معتمد علي الفلك The Luminaries فكل فصل من الفصول الاثني عشر تبدأ بخريطه فلكيه كالتي في الصوره توضح علاقات الشخصيات "الابراج"بالشخصيات الاخري "الكواكب" و كل فصل بينقسم لاجزاء "الاول 12,الثاني 11,الثالث 10,الرابع 9 وهكذا.." وكل جزء مرتبط بظاهره فلكيه بتحصل في وقت الاحداث "مثلا الجزء الاول عطارد في برج القوس .. في الاحداث مودي "عطارد"بيجذب توماس بلفور "برج القوس" في انه يحكي احداث اليوم وسبب لقاء الاثني عشر رجلا" وكل جزء بعد عنوانه -الفلكي- تجد سطرين او ثلاث مختصر عن الفصل ..علي غرار "حظك اليوم" فمثلا يبدأ فصل بالعباره التاليه بزوغ منتصف االليل علي برج العقرب وفيه الصيدلي يذهب للبحث حول الافيون , ونقابل أنـا ويذريل أخيرا ,بريتشارد ينفذ صبره , وتنطلق طلقتا رصاص القمر في برج الثور , محاق وفيه تشارلي فروست يكتشف شيئا,ديك مانيرنج يحضر مسدسه, ونحن نرتحل في مغامره عبر النهر لاراضي كانيري, ونصل لـ ---"الفصل الثاني 18 فبراير 1866"--- وفيه تقوم ليديا ويلز الارمله بعقد جلسه تحضير الارواح التي زعمت في الفصل الماضي عقدها في ذلك الشهر الذي بدون قمر..فسنعرف ان الارمله مهووسه بخرائظ الفلك والنجوم والابراج,فهي تقوم بكشف الحظ لمنقبي الذهب والباحثين عن الثروات وقررت ان تقوم بتلك الجلسه لافتتاح مشروعها في المدينه التي نويت ان تستقر بها بعد موت زوجها الروح التي اختارتها لتقوم بجلسه تحضير الارواح هي روح ايميري ستاينس , الشاب الثري المفقود ولا يعرف اي احد مصيره..فهل تنجح؟ مره اخري يتشابك الابطال وحقائق جديده يتم اكتشافها,روابط وتحالفات جديده تنعقد, وتحالفات اخري تنكسر وذلك كله مرسوم في خريطه النجوم الجميع جاء الحفل لمعرفه الحقيقه ولمقابله ايمري ستاتين, الثري الشاب المفقود أو أنــا ويزريل , العاهره التائبه مره اخري يتجمع الابطال في مكان واحد ,العدد اقل ولكن مازالت المؤلفه تمسك بخيوط القصه ببراعه وبالرغم من ان الاكتشاف الاكبر يقع في وسط احداث هذا الفصل..الا ان نهايه الفصل تجعلك منتظرا اكثر لـ ---"الفصل الثالث 20 مـارس 1866"--- هنا يجهز سوك لانتقامه, لا يعلم ان هناك من يسعي خلفه هو شخصيا لماض ما..وهذا الفصل سيشهد اخيرا ظهور القمر,بعد ان كان الشهر الماضي شهرا بدون قمر مطارده, تشابك, صراع,كشف حقائق ... ظهور القمر وتلاقيه اخيرا بالشمس لسبب ما تشعر ان هذا الفصل يحتوي علي شئ من النهايه بالنسبه لك خاصا وانه يبدو ك Climax ولكن مازال هناك الكثير من الحقائق الغير كامله...والعداله لم تتحقق بعد وهنا يأتي الفصل الاخير في الاحداث الحاليه ---"الفصل الرابع 27 ابريل 1866"--- جنبا الي جنب مع يوم ---"الفصل الرابع 27 ابريل 1865"--- وهو من اقوي الفصول بالنسبه لي المحاكمه الكبري, محاكمه الشمس والقمر او القمر والشمس لن احرق لك الاحداث به ولكن أعتقد انه يجب ان اشيد فعلا ببراعه المؤلفه في رسم المحاكمه وتحويل الاحداث لتحقيق نهايه ممتازه كهذه نهايه الاحداث ومعرفه مصائر الشخصيات وايضاح الصوره الكامله الميزه هنا ان الجزء "الخيالي" الخاص بالنجوم تم تفسيره في المحاكمه بطريقه منطقيه وبعيده عن الخيال, كشيئا ما من أسلوب روايه "حياه باي" -الحاصله هي الاخري علي بوكر وهو امر مناسب جدا لتوضيح جزء من الاحداث لمن لايرغب في الخيال لتكون الروايه متكامله لك سواء واقعيه او خياليه ومزجت المؤلفه بين نهايه الاحداث وبدايتها بالنسبه لاهم شخصيتين نقطه البدايه في 27 ابريل العام الماضي للاحداث الحاليه وتلاقي الشمس الذي كان قمرا,والقمر الذي كان شمسا وسأدعك تكتشف الرمزيه بنفسك وكيف تحولت الاحداث وتم قلبها رأسا علي عقب عن طريق ذلك الفصل,المحاكمه التي ادارها مودي...باجزاء من الحقيقه واعجبني جدا ذلك السطر في النهايه said Paddy Ryan. ‘Give us a tale, and spin it out, so we forget about our feet, and we don’t notice that we’re walking.’ Moody was silent for a time, wondering how to begin. ‘I am trying to decide between the whole truth, and nothing but the truth,’ he said presently. ‘I am afraid my history is such that I can’t manage both at once.’ فعلا مودي عرف الحقيقه الكامله, ولا شئ غير الحقيقه..وكل الابطال تقريبا عرفوا اجزاء من الحقيقه لان الحقيقه الكامله صعب استيعابها ولذلك فالميزه هنا ان بهذا الفصل الاخير تبدأ في معرفه بدايه الاحداث في العام الماضي عن طريق الفلاش باك والذي يستمر علي مدار الفصول من الخامس الي الثاني عشر و ستلاحظ تناقص اكثر في عدد صفحات الفصول فالفصل الاول 360 صفحه - الفصل الثاني 160 صفحه - الفصل الثالث 104 صفحه الفصل الرابع 96 صفحه - الفصل الخامس 40 صفحه - الفصل السادس 26 صفحه الفصل السابع 14 صفحه - الفصل الثامن 10 صفحات و التاسع والعاشر 6 صفحات الفصل الحادي عشر 4 صفحات فقط..والفصل الاخير صفحتان فقط وهذا لتحاكي حركه القمر, وحتي ان لم افهمها جيدا الا ان البناء مناسب جدا لتيمه الحركه الفلكيه للقمر وعاما الفصول من الخامس الي الثاني عشر لا تحتاج الكثير من الصفحات لان احداثها كلها فلاش باك لتكشف لك الحقيقه الكامله حيث ينتهي الاخير بيوم "14 يناير 1886" الذي به الاحداث التي بسببها تجمع الاثني عشر رجلا في اول فصل "27 يناير 1886" ودخل عليهم والتر مودي...ليعرف كل شئ..الذي عن طريقه ينهي الاحداث ايضا شخصيه والتر مودي "برج عطارد - الحكمه" من اجمل شخصيات الروايه,فهو المحايد الذي أتي لهوكيتيكا لبدايه جديده, مثله مثل اهم ابطال الروايه..ودار في فلكها برعت المؤلفه في رسم افلاك الشخصيات جميعهم, وروح مدينه هوكيتيكا..وكما شرحها احد المواطنين الاصليين بالمدينه الذي -كحالي- انجليزيته ضعيفه قام برسمها كدائره تبدأ من نقطه وتنتهي في نفس النقطه في ذلك المشهد في بدايه الروايه بين توماس بلفور عندما سأل تي رو تاواري عن معني اسم المدينه التي تدور بها كل الاحداث At last Tauwhare lifted his finger and described a circle in the air. When his fingertip returned to the place from which he had begun, he jabbed his finger, sharply, to mark the place of return. But one cannot mark a place upon a circle,he thought: to mark a place upon a circle is to break it, so that it is not a circle any longer. ‘Understand it like this,’ he said, regretting that he had to speak the words in English, and approximate the noun. ‘Around. And then back again, beginning.’ ومثل المدينه مثل الروايه في بناءها , بعد ان انهيت اخر صفحاتها شعرت بالحاجه لاستكمالها عن طريق اعاده قراءه الفصل الاول مره اخري الي الرابع, وبالفعل هذا جعلني استمتع اكثر ببناءها الغريب المتميز وحبكتها العبقريه روايه فعلا تستحق البوكر , والقراءه,والاستمتاع بها يجب ايضا ان انوه اني عرفت الروايه عن طريق الصدفه من مقال بجريده الاهرام صفحه الادب الثلاثاء 29 اكتوبر 2013 للاستاذه "هبه عبد الستار" والذي شوقني جدا للروايه رابط المقال "ملحوظه: ليس للروايه ترجمه حتي الان" محمد العربي من 28 يناير 2014 الي 26 فبراير 2014 "دوره قمريه كامله" والاعاده الي 2 مارس 2014 PS: الريفيو القديم في الاسبويلر,لكن تقريبا تم استخدامه بالكامل في الريفيو النهائي (view spoiler)[ اطول روايه "832 صفحه" تحصل علي جائزه بوكر (حصلت عليها اكتوبر 2013 ) ومؤلفتها اصغر حاصله علي الجائزه (إليانور كاتون,28سنه) في تاني تجربه روائيه لها أزاي تستمتع بالروايه-ففوزها بـبوكر ليس كل شئ-؟ وماسر حجمها الضخم المرهق؟ هنا في بدايه الريفيو اود ان اصحبكم في كيفيه تسهيل الاستمتاع بروايه بهذه الضخامه فالفصل الاول 360 صفحه - الفصل الثاني 160 صفحه - الفصل الثالث 104 صفحه الفصل الرابع 96 صفحه - الفصل الخامس 40 صفحه - الفصل السادس 26 صفحه الفصل السابع 13 صفحه - الفصل الثامن 10 صفحات و التاسع والعاشر 6 صفحات الفصل الحادي عشر والثاني عشر 4 صفحات فقط..يبقي لازم نشوف الصوره كامله فعلا كي تستمتع من اللحظه الاولي وتلك التركيبه الضخمه من الابطال ;وأول الفصل الاول ---"مساء السبت 27 يناير 1866"--- حيث يدخل "والتر مودي" غرفه التدخين في فندق بهوكيتيكا -نيوزيلاندا في فتره التنقيب علي الذهب, يدخل لاهثا لانه وصل لتوه للمدينه علي متن سفينه "جودسبيد" والتي رأي بها أمرا لايصدقه حتي الان وجد نفسه ليس وحيدا,فالغرفه بها اثني عشر رجلا متباينين في العمر والاصل والجنسيه وحتي الطبقه الاجتماعيه شعر مودي بانه اجتماعا سريا..وبالفعل,اخبره احدهم سبب الاجتماع ,فهم يتشاورون حول الاحداث الغامضه التي حدثت في 14 يناير 1866, اي قبل اليوم باسبوعين ناسك وجد مقتولا في كوخه والقاتل مجهول, عاهره تعمل بالمدينه وجدت فاقده الوعي واشتبه في محاولتها الانتحار ولكنها تؤكد انها لم تنتحر , فتي صعد نجمه بسرعه ليصير احد اهم اثرياء المدينه يختفي في ظروف غامضه..وثروه يتم اكتشافها في كوخ الناسك..والادهي امرأه تصل للمدينه تأتي لتطالب بأحقيتها في تلك الثروه باعتبارها ارمله الناسك والتي لم يسمع احد عنها من قبل الاثني عشر رجلا متورطين بشكل او بأخر في هذه الاحداث الغريبه..وقلقون من ادانتهم فقد ربطوا الاحداث ببعضها في هذا اليوم مما ادي لاجتماعهم وهذا ليس ابدا بكل شئ الاثني عشر رجلا..والسبع شخصيات الاخري يربط بينهم وبين البعض علاقات بها الكثير من الغموض والاسرار, خيانه, انتحال شخصيه,ابتزاز,انتقام وعلاقات اخري متشابكه ولذلك لكي تستمتع فعلا يجب ان تنظر الي الصوره الكامله..الكبري ولنجيب عن السؤال الاول..لماذا هي روايه بهذه الضخامه؟ او روايه "النجوم اللامعه" هي روايه هيكلها معتمد علي الفلك The Luminaries الصفحه الاولي من الروايه ستجد تعريف بالابطال مقسمين لجزئين, وهنا ساقوم في الريفيو بالتوضيحات الخاصه ببرجهم,او كوكبهم و ستجد في الروايه نفس الترتيب في الصفحه الاولي ولكن بدون توضيح الابراج او الكواكب فأضفت هنا الابراج وستجد في الروايه في صفحه التعريف ايضا الاماكن التي يقطنونها يفضل فعلا ان تنقل هذا الجزء في ورقه اثناء قراءتك لمصائرهم *****الشخصيات الاثني عشر الاولي - الابراج -****** ♈ – Aries الحمل Te Rau Tauwhare تي رو تاواري - منقب احجار محلي ♉ – Taurus برج Charlie Frost شارلي فروست - موظف بالبنك ♊ – Gemini الجوزاء Benjamin Löwenthal بنجامين لونيثال - صحفي ♋ – Cancer السرطان Edgar Clinch ايدجار كلينش - صاحب فندق ♌ – Leo الاسد Dick Mannering ديك مانيرينج - صاحب مناجم ذهب ♍ – Virgo العذراء Quee Long كيو لونج - صائغ ذهب صيني ♎ – Libra الميزان Harald Nilssen هارولد نيلسين - تاجر عموله ♏ – Scorpio العقرب Joseph Pritchard جوزيف بريتشارد - صيدلي ♐ – Sagittarius القوس Thomas Balfour توماس بلفور - وكيل شحن ♑ – Capricorn الجدي Aubert Gascoigne اوبري جاسكوين - كاتب قضاء ♒ – Aquarius الدلو Sook Yongsheng سوك يونجشنج-صانع قبعات ♓ – Pisces الحوت Cowell Devlin كويل ديفلين - قس *****الشخصيات السبع الثانيه - الكواكب-***** عرفتهم المؤلفه في الصفحه الاولي بتأثيراتهم ولكننا هنا نزيد عليهم اسماء الكواكب وايضا تم ذكرهم بنفس الترتيب ☿ - Mercury عطارد Walter Moody والتر مودي - المنطق ♀ - Venus الزهره Lydia (Wells) Carver ليديا ويلز "كارفر" - الرغبه ♂ - Mars المريخ Francis Carver فرانسيس كارفر - القوه ♃ - Jupiter المشتري Alistair Lauderback اليستاير لاديرباك - السلطه ♄ - Saturn زحل George Shepard جورج شيبارد - القيود ☉ - Sun الشمس Anna Wetherell أنـا ويذريل - بعيده ,كانت قريبه ☽ - Moon القمر Emery Staines ايميري ستاينس - قريب,كان بعيد والشخصيه الاخيره هي اليابسه او الارض Crosbie Wells كروسبي ويلز - المتوفي في اول الروايه ليه بقي بقول تنقل الرموز والابراج وتخليها امامك وقت القراءه؟ السبب ان كل فصل من الفصول الاثني عشر تبدأ بخريطه فلكيه كالتي في الصوره توضح علاقات الشخصيات "الابراج"بالشخصيات الاخري "الكواكب" و كل فصل بينقسم لاجزاء "الاول 12,الثاني 11,الثالث 10,الرابع 9 وهكذا.." وكل جزء مرتبط بظاهره فلكيه بتحصل في وقت الاحداث "مثلا الجزء الاول عطارد في برج القوس .. في الاحداث مودي "عطارد"بيجذب توماس بلفور "برج القوس" في انه يحكي احداث اليوم وسبب لقاء الاثني عشر رجلا" وكل جزء بعد عنوانه -الفلكي- تجد سطرين او ثلاث مختصر عن الفصل ..علي غرار "حظك اليوم" فمثلا يبدأ فصل بالعباره التاليه بزوغ منتصف االليل علي برج العقرب وفيه الصيدلي يذهب للبحث حول الافيون , ونقابل أنـا ويذريل أخيرا ,بريتشارد ينفذ صبره , وتنطلق طلقتا رصاص القمر في برج الثور , محاق وفيه تشارلي فروست يكتشف شيئا,ديك مانيرنج يحضر مسدسه, ونحن نرتحل في مغامره عبر النهر لاراضي كانيري, اما بقي سر ضخامه الفصل الاول وتناقص عدد الصفحات بمرور الفصول ...فالامر سهل كما توضح الصوره الكامله للغلاف وفكره النجوم والابراج..الروايه تتبع نفس مسار وحركه القــمــــر والان اترككم لمن يريد البدء في الروايه..وسأؤجل ابداء رايي بها حتي انهيها ان شاء الله فقط احببت ان اعرفكم بالروايه وكيفيه الاستمتاع بها والتي وصلت لها يجب ايضا ان انوه اني عرفت الروايه عن طريق الصدفه من مقال بجريده الاهرام صفحه الادب الثلاثاء 29 اكتوبر 2013 للاستاذه "هبه عبد الستار" والذي شوقني جدا للروايه رابط المقال "ملحوظه: ليس للروايه ترجمه حتي الان محمد العربي في 22 فبراير 2014 (hide spoiler)]

  5. 4 out of 5

    switterbug (Betsey)

    Twelve men meet at the Crown Hotel in Hokitika, New Zealand, in January, 1866. A thirteenth, Walter Moody, an educated man from Edinburgh who has come here to find his fortune in gold, walks in. As it unfolds, the interlocking stories and shifting narrative perspectives of the twelve--now thirteen--men bring forth a mystery that all are trying to solve, including Walter Moody, who has just gotten off the Godspeed ship with secrets of his own that intertwine with the other men's concerns. This is Twelve men meet at the Crown Hotel in Hokitika, New Zealand, in January, 1866. A thirteenth, Walter Moody, an educated man from Edinburgh who has come here to find his fortune in gold, walks in. As it unfolds, the interlocking stories and shifting narrative perspectives of the twelve--now thirteen--men bring forth a mystery that all are trying to solve, including Walter Moody, who has just gotten off the Godspeed ship with secrets of his own that intertwine with the other men's concerns. This is not an important book. There is no magnificent theme, no moral thicket, no people to emancipate, no countries to defend, no subtext to unravel, and no sizable payoff. Its weightiness is physical, coming in at 832 pages. And yet, it is one of the most marvelous and poised books that I have read. Although I didn't care for the meandering rambling books of Wilkie Collins, I am reminded here of his style, but Catton is so much more controlled, and possesses the modern day perspective in which to peer back. I felt a warmth and a shiver at each passing chapter, set during the last days of the New Zealand gold rush. Catton hooked me in in this Victorian tale of a piratical captain; a Maori gemstone hunter; Chinese diggers (or "hatters"); the search for "colour" (gold); a cache of hidden gold; séances; opium; fraud; ruthless betrayal; infidelity; a politician; a prostitute; a Jewish newspaperman; a gaoler; shipping news; shady finance; a ghostly presence; a missing man; a dead man; and a spirited romance. And there's more between Dunedin and Hokitika to titillate the adventurous reader. Primarily, THE LUMINARIES is an action-adventure, sprawling detective story, superbly plotted, where the Crown Hotel men try to solve it, while sharing secrets and shame of their own. There's even a keen courtroom segment later in the story. And, there are crucial characters that are not gathered in the Crown that night who link everyone together. The prostitute and opium addict, Anna Wetherell, is nigh the center of this story, as she is coveted or loved or desired by all the townspeople. The layout of the book is stellar: the spheres of the skies and its astrological charts. You don't need to understand the principles and mathematics of astrology (I don't), but it is evident that knowledge of this pseudoscience would add texture to the reading experience, as it provides the structure and frame of the book. The characters' traits can be found in their individual sun signs (such as the duality of a Germini). The drawings of charts add to the mood, and the chapters get successively shorter after the long Crown chapter. The cover of the book illustrates the phases of the moon, from full moon to sliver, alluding to the waning narrative lengths as the story progresses. "But onward also rolls the outer sphere--the boundless present, which contains the bounded past." Take note of the cast list at the beginning, which is quite helpful for the initial 200 or 300 pages. With so many vivid characters coming at you at once, it is difficult at first to absorb. However, as the pages sail (and they will, if this appeals to you), you won't even need the names and professions. The story and its striking, almost theatrical players become gradually and permanently installed, thoroughly and unforgettably. From the scar on Captain Francis Carver's cheek, to the widow's garment on Anna Wetherell's gaunt frame, the lively images and descriptions animate this boisterous, vibrant story. Catton is a master storyteller; she combines this exacting 19th century style and narrator--and the "we" that embraces the reader inside the tale--with the faintest sly wink of contemporary perspective. Instead of the authorial voice sounding campy, stilted, and antiquated, there is a fresh whiff of nuanced canniness, a knowing Catton who uncorks the delectable Victorian past by looking at it from the postmodern future. You will either be intoxicated by this big brawl of a book, or weighed down in its heft. If you are looking for something more than it is, then look no further than the art of reading. There's no mystery to the men; Catton lays out their morals, scruples, weaknesses, and strengths at the outset. The women had a little poetic mystery to them, but in all, these were familiar players--she drew up stock 19th century characters, but livened them up, so that they leaped madly from the pages. There isn't much to interrogate except your own anticipation. If you've read COLOUR, by Rose Tremain, don't expect any similarities except the time, place, setting, and the sweat and grime of the diggers. Otherwise, the two books are alike as fish and feathers. The stars shine bright as torches, or are veiled behind a mist, like the townspeople and story that behave under the various constellations. Catton's impeccably plotted yarn invites us to dwell in this time and place. At times, I felt I mined the grand nuggets of the story, and at other times, it blew away like dust. "But there is no truth except truth in relation, and heavenly relation is composed of wheels in motion, tilting axes, turning dials; it is a clockwork orchestration that alters every minute, never repeating never still...We now look outward...we see the world as we wish to perfect it, and we imagine dwelling there."

  6. 5 out of 5

    Hannah Greendale

    Click here to watch a video review of this book on my channel, From Beginning to Bookend. An impressive literary feat – intricate, challenging, and singularly structured to mimic the waning moon – that will likely appeal to fans of The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins or anyone in the mood for a demanding mystery of coincidence and collusion laced with corpses, prostitutes, and buried treasure.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Jaidee

    5 "superlative, intricate and fascinating" stars 4th Favorite Read of 2015 Wow just wow. This is a very long book and so I developed a quiz to see if you are a potential reader of this most amazing tome. 1. Did you love "The Alienist" by Caleb Carr? 2. Did you adore "Wolf Hall" by Hilary Mantel? 3. Do you like your mysteries intelligent, complex and compelling? 4. Do you like stories with elements of the supernatural, murder, blackmail and intrigue? 5. Do you like your women wicked and your men wicke 5 "superlative, intricate and fascinating" stars 4th Favorite Read of 2015 Wow just wow. This is a very long book and so I developed a quiz to see if you are a potential reader of this most amazing tome. 1. Did you love "The Alienist" by Caleb Carr? 2. Did you adore "Wolf Hall" by Hilary Mantel? 3. Do you like your mysteries intelligent, complex and compelling? 4. Do you like stories with elements of the supernatural, murder, blackmail and intrigue? 5. Do you like your women wicked and your men wickeder? 6. Do you like writing that is formal, elegant and with a systematic style that ties in brilliantly to both plot and character? 7. Are you fascinated by New Zealand or the chaotic wild west? If you answered yes to two or more of these questions then what are you waiting for...giddyup to your nearest bookstore or library and pick this up as it will take you many hours to finish. On a more serious note- this book is absolutely exquisite and perfect in every way. Ms. Catton at the age of 28 has written a novel that will stand the test of time. This book reminded me of a complex mandala ....broad at the outside and like a whirlpool draws you in quicker and quicker so that you are immersed in a world that you never want to leave. This novel is systematic, mystical and endlessly fascinating. She uses astrological charts and also personality traits to predict the futures of her fifteen or so main characters. One could easily do a PHD thesis on this work and believe me I'm sure there are people at it right now. Ms. Catton...thanks so darn much...I'm mighty obliged ma'am :)

  8. 3 out of 5

    Maureen Jansen

    I'm a New Zealander like the author. Everyone here is raving about this book including people who write great novels themselves. I'm feeling pretty miserable about the fact that I couldn't get into it, forced myself to read halfway, started again and then gave up in despair. I liked the beginning, started to identify with the first character, Moody, then lost the plot when the other 14 or so main characters took over the story. The faux 19th century style felt slightly forced and the sentences w I'm a New Zealander like the author. Everyone here is raving about this book including people who write great novels themselves. I'm feeling pretty miserable about the fact that I couldn't get into it, forced myself to read halfway, started again and then gave up in despair. I liked the beginning, started to identify with the first character, Moody, then lost the plot when the other 14 or so main characters took over the story. The faux 19th century style felt slightly forced and the sentences were, for me, indigestible. After reading the first quarter of the book I have a vivid picture in my mind of Hokitika in the 1860s. I like that about it. At the same time it doesn't ring true that the leading lights in a pioneer community would care so deeply about the death of a hermit and apparent attempted suicide of a prostitute. There was a sameness to the dialogue that didn't ring true to me either. Sure, I haven't read any 19th century novels for a long time and have forgotten the style. Whatever the cause, this book didn't enable me to suspend my disbelief. I usually find that challenging novels pay me back for the effort I put into reading them. I gain insights, I identify with the characters, I experience a different part of the world. The Luminaries is so plot-based that it didn't give me that payback. As for the astrological aspect of the novel, I just didn't get it and the book didn't inspire me to delve into it. I don't feel good writing this about a fellow kiwi's great accomplishment. I suspect a lot of my difficulties stem from the mystery/detective elements in this novel: just not my cup of tea. I was more suited as a reader to Emily Perkins' The Forrests, another long and challenging NZ novel but more character-based.

  9. 3 out of 5

    Antonomasia

    [4.5] A rip-roaring yarn and awe-inspiring use of experimental form - it's not every day you see that in a book. Like Catton's previous near-masterpiece, The Rehearsal, this suffers from a rather misleading cover. The illustration, and the very title The Luminaries seem to allude to "a different world entirely... a world of drawing rooms, and calling cards, and gowns" (p.31) - not a mystery/ adventure involving gold prospectors, prostitutes, drug addiction and frontier-town bigwigs. One likely t [4.5] A rip-roaring yarn and awe-inspiring use of experimental form - it's not every day you see that in a book. Like Catton's previous near-masterpiece, The Rehearsal, this suffers from a rather misleading cover. The illustration, and the very title The Luminaries seem to allude to "a different world entirely... a world of drawing rooms, and calling cards, and gowns" (p.31) - not a mystery/ adventure involving gold prospectors, prostitutes, drug addiction and frontier-town bigwigs. One likely to appeal to quite a number of readers who may be put off by the first impression of yet another Austen/Dickens pastiche. The Luminaries certainly is a pastiche of a kind, though it was never so overwhelmingly Victorian in its style as I expected after seeing a well-known book blogger mention how he abandoned it: "Jeanette Winterson said, "If you want to read 19th-century novels, you may as well read the real thing, and not go out and buy a reproduction." It strays further from faithful Victorian reproduction after the early chapters, still making wonderful use of the depth of characterisation that's too often missing from contemporary British novels. And it's certainly faster reading than most nineteenth-century originals. The narrative voice has hints of George Eliot (whom I was delighted to read Catton also prefers over the Brontes and Austen). But (perhaps because I've never read Wilkie Collins, with whom this book's most often been compared so far) the experience of reading The Luminaries made me think most of all of Arthur Conan Doyle, back before I'd read the Holmes stories so often they'd become a little boring. Tales of skullduggery and crime often recounted through the medium of conversations between men - sometimes in the telling itself, sometimes as a deep-sea dive into a framed narrative like Heart of Darkness. Still, those were comparisons to the actual Victorian... Neo-Victorian isn't a trend in which I've had much interest other than the odd work by big names like A.S. Byatt, Sarah Waters and Alan Moore. The larger-than life characters and the sheer pointless fun of this story do, for me, recall comics put into prose. (Michael Chabon was perhaps the most unlikely comparison I kept making as I read.) Catton seems like an intellect every bit as formidable as Byers but she so far has applied it to structure rather than essentially highbrow story-topics. Unlike Waters (and many other historical novelists) her application of modern values is subtle; characters are people of their time, though perhaps a greater percentage of the well-off white men are, without fanfare, decent and civil to ethnic minorities and to women of questionable backgrounds than may have been the case in the real mid nineteenth century. Characters of all origins are treated with equal dignity by the narrative, again, without ever making a song and dance about it, which periodically gives a rather pleasant time-warp effect. The setting, at least for most non-ANZ readers, has much novelty and interest, when so much Victoriana focuses on London; plus it has similarities to the Wild West along with its own distinctive character. It's often quite possible to imagine if only one could put the words together a bit more nicely, had greater stamina for writing at length &c, how it might have been possible to write various books. The Luminaries though, is from a writing perspective a fairly mind-boggling achievement that sounds almost as difficult,and almost as much a potential impediment to producing a good story, as do the letter-missing-out antics of Georges Perec. 1) It is a highly complex mystery which would in itself be a considerable invention. 2) Each of its 12 parts has a word count exactly half that of its predecessor. 3) Astrology, a pre-existing complex (fictional) system has been used as a starting point for the characters' interactions. (A three-stairs-in-one-stride step up in intricacy from the use of playing cards in The Rehearsal.) Not only that but Catton has partially refashioned astrology to her own purpose by making each of the main characters a sign or a planet, and various buildings the houses on the chart - such that, for example, Mercury in Aries means a meeting of those two characters. (I think it would also be perfectly possible to enjoy the book as a story whilst ignoring or knowing little of these aspects.) Towards the end of the book, it's possible to see the decreasing word-count become slightly burdensome as the "in which" chapter descriptions start to near the length of the text they precede. These same length constraints mean that there are several short chapters going into detail about earlier events to a level that isn't always necessary, but which I nearly always found interesting. At least Catton doesn't use this tailing-off to tie the "present" fates of the characters up too neatly. I (and probably a lot of readers of a book like this) prefer some unknowns at the end - although it's not terribly Victorian. What is impressive, though, is that the content never seems forced or unnatural - only the layout and chapter divisions indicate something unusual is going on. The astrological-themed characters are an object lesson in how a seriously good writer can make archetypes into interesting personalities, few of whom end up seeming like stock characters; there's something atypical or unexpected about nearly all of them which offsets their origins. (Sometimes it's easy to spot how it's done: e.g. a spendthrift dandy ... who's Scandinavian.) Most have a cartoonish yet complex quality which reminds me of good comics. I didn't find out that twelve of the characters were based on star-sign attributes (though the planetary ones were clearer, somehow from the oblique dramatis personae) until I'd read over 200 pages. Once I knew this it all fell into place – and I occasionally had to banish mental pictures of the early 90's Creme Egg ads when certain characters appeared – but given that a) I know far more than I'd like about astrology and b) I think I read quite closely I was all the more impressed with Catton's characterisation for not having been able to help making it ridiculously obvious as many authors would have. A drawback of the astrological scheme is that the planet-in-sign chaptering led to rather a lot of one-on-one conversations. What they characters are saying is generally exciting, and sometimes the chats become a framing device, but the format led to a slight background monotony that was at odds with my otherwise great enjoyment of the book. (This is why it's a rounded-down, not rounded-up 4.5.) The quieter among these conversations, in which we witness characters' communication of information - some of which we may already know - and their reactions, and in which “telling not showing” is really part of the useful action, reminded me of 18th-19th century epistolary novels. Whilst sceptics surely can't argue with the idea of using one made-up system to make up something else, I've noticed a few press reviews which are puzzled by the astrological basis of the novel when only one character, Lydia Wells, has any enthusiasm for star signs. To me it seemed another mental leap by the author; to use this scheme for a story with a cast of hippies, psychics etc would have been obvious. Instead the story in The Luminaries is seasoned with astrology but not, I would say, overwhelmed by it – similar to the way Celine & Julie Go Boating is seasoned with magic both stage and esoteric. Though perhaps it's only if one's had much familiarity with astrology that it doesn't seem off-key to see it applied to non-adherents, to things and people which seem unrelated to the subject. Everyone has a horoscope, whether they've ever taken any notice of it or not. Even Richard Dawkins. My own knowledge comes from OCD-like phases of struggle with superstitious systems plus a tendency to hoover up information. (I managed to break from astrology after discovering “fixed star” astrology which added a near-exponential number of extra possibilities so that, crucially, from within the system itself and not only from outside, it all started to seem nonsensical and as if it could be made to say anything.) I was a little disappointed that, according to this interview Eleanor Catton seems – for the moment - to embrace astrology unquestioningly although she must be enormously intelligent. But she has at least made a rather stupendous work of art out of it - one started when she would have been only 26. This is, incidentally, the first novel of its size I've finished in exactly six years. The last one was Darkmans - pure coincidence that the names almost mirror. And like the Nicola Barker, it was so enjoyable that the book was rarely burdensome (even if I did take a day off in the middle for a sub-300 pager, which helped). I would love to see The Luminaries win the Booker. (There are two or three contenders between which I can hardly choose.) Though its scale of ambition and experiment, and sheer bulk, lead inevitably to a few imperfections that wouldn't be found in a more conventionally-structured, polished novel of a quarter of its length. Regardless, it was enormous fun, very readable and ever so clever.

  10. 5 out of 5

    mark monday

    Aries the Ram thrusts forward, discarding the past except as a symbol of what has been overcome. Fearsome, single-minded Aries! This book does not fall under the sign of Aries; it is invested in the past, it is enchanted by it. The past is such an important part of the novel that the narrative continues after its climactic resolution with a series of escalating chapters that take the reader back to where it all began. The Luminaries' characters live under the shadow of their own pasts, they judg Aries the Ram thrusts forward, discarding the past except as a symbol of what has been overcome. Fearsome, single-minded Aries! This book does not fall under the sign of Aries; it is invested in the past, it is enchanted by it. The past is such an important part of the novel that the narrative continues after its climactic resolution with a series of escalating chapters that take the reader back to where it all began. The Luminaries' characters live under the shadow of their own pasts, they judge others by their past actions as well. Aries is well-represented by Te Rau Tauwhare, a Maori greenstone hunter. Taurus the Bull is a sign of love, in all of its strength and awkwardness, its earthiness and purity. Obstinate, strong-willed Taurus! This book has a strong Taurean influence: it has at its heart a passionate and moving story of star-crossed lovers, determined to persevere, blind to reason - two parts of a whole that yearn to merge. Taurus is represented - poorly - by the aloof banker Charlie Frost. Gemini the Twins, sharp and cutting, a sign of the mind, of the air. Impulsive and restless Gemini! This book has a marked Gemini influence in its clever narrative voice, one often sidelined by description and dialogue yet still distinct, full of wit and sly innuendo. Gemini's influence is even stronger when considering the almost dizzying ingenuity of the book's look-at-me structure and its increasingly cheeky chapter introductions. Gemini is represented by Benjamin Lowenthal, a Jewish newspaper editor and a character in need of richer development. Cancer the Crab moons about in its shell, moody and self-absorbed, yet caring and loyal to the end. Complicated, sensitive Cancer! The Crab has little to do with The Luminaries, except when looking at the novel in general terms. A strong and thick hardcover book, a complicated structure, a soft heart lurking within. Cancer is well-represented by the hotelier Edgar Clinch. Leo the Lion sits back, the very image of self-satisfaction, a magnet to lesser men, a sun that would have the whole universe revolve around it. Confident and surprisingly generous Leo! The heavy-lidded sensuality of the Lion holds court throughout The Luminaries, its beautiful imagery and its rich descriptive prowess openly displayed; well-hung Leo also clearly influenced this book's impressive length. Leo is represented by Dick (lol) Mannering, a goldfields magnate. Virgo the Virgin is the sign of this reviewer. It is the most wonderful sign imaginable: critical yet fair, judgmental but only in the most loving of ways, altruistic, well-read, self-sacrificing, practically perfect in every way, the Mary Poppins of the Zodiac. All must bow to the wonder of Virgo! The Virgin is terribly represented by Quee Long, who is about the opposite of any decent Virgo. For shame, Eleanor Catton, you have betrayed the Zodiac with your libelous portrait of a so-called Virgo! Okay here's the one thing that bothered me about The Luminaries: the way it treated its Asian characters. Perhaps because I'm a hyper-critical half-breed who favors his Asian side, I'm always on the look-out for things to irritate me in the way that Asians are represented. Now I don't think that Catton has an issue with Asians, but it does chafe on a personal level how little they are respected in this novel. I understand the lack of respect coming from other characters, given the time and place. But I resented their actual parts and paths in the narrative - and that's all Eleanor Catton. One Asian is presented as single-minded in the most simple and greedy way possible; another is an opium addict and merchant whose tragic life and grand quest for revenge end in a limp little fizzle, off of the page. I raged (a bit) at the injustice of it all. Libra the Scales is a sign of beauty, and much like Beauty itself, displays both grace and superficiality, charisma and vanity. Lovely, indecisive Libra! Libra's scales are seldom in balance; this sign seeks to make things equal and often fails. And so it is with the author of The Luminaries, a Libra on the cusp of Virgo. Her favorites among the novel's astrological characters are dynamic and richly developed; those less-favored are given mere cameo appearances. But don't look for fairness from a Libra - look for beauty! And there is much beauty within the pages of The Luminaries. Exquisite prose, gorgeous imagery, lovely moments within its lovely love story; the beautiful mind of its author, yearning to be recognized for its brilliance - and rewarded by the 2013 Man Booker Prize. Libra is represented - perfectly - by Harald Nilssen, a commission merchant. Scorpio is the Scorpion, and the Eagle as well. It soars above the earth and lives in its holes. This strange sign is the Investigator of the Zodiac and is also its greatest conundrum - secretive to its core, yet suspicious of secrets in others; dark and unyielding; often cold yet deeply sexual. Mysterious, obsessive Scorpio! The Luminaries is intimately connected to the Scorpion, in its basic nature as a Mystery Novel and in its refusal to solve certain mysteries, to keep them shrouded in ambiguity. The Eagle dislikes having to explain itself. Scorpio is represented by Joseph Pritchard, a chemist and a perfectly executed character who is left almost entirely off of the page. Perhaps Catton feared the perverse potential lurking within him and so curtailed her exploration of his depths. I also felt the Scorpio influence upon this novel's villain, the dark, manipulative, unknowable Francis Carver. Sagittarius the Archer shoots an arrow into the future, his true place; Sagittarius the Centaur gallops quickly, heedless of those too simple and slow to keep his pace. Strong-willed, independent Sagittarius! This sign's influence on The Luminaries is striking: it has no patience for readers of the idiot class. It makes scarce concessions to those longing for explanations or a simple plotline; it will give you the opportunity to come into its world and be surrounded, enveloped... and it will leave you behind if you are unable to keep up. Sagittarius is well-represented by Thomas Balfour, a shipping agent. Capricorn the Sea-Goat: "still waters run deep" was surely coined for this sign, one whose stable and inhibited surface appearance belies the complicated ambitions within. Patient, resourceful Capricorn! A courageous introvert, a fastidious intellectual, virile yet chilly, dignified and aloof and rich with hidden depths. The novel The Luminaries was born under the sign of Capricorn. The novel's birth sign is represented - perfectly - by Aubert Gascoigne, a justice's clerk. Aquarius the Water-bearer abhors restrictions and eschews barriers, seeking the enlightenment beyond, traveling the stars without and within, ever in search of wisdom. Inventive, rebellious Aquarius! A shallow reviewer of the novel would find little influence from the Water-bearer as the book is a carefully constructed puzzle rather than an ingenious invention, a mathematically mapped-out pièce de résistance rather than a spontaneous improvisation. But dig deeper and you shall find the sublime Aquarian ruling an eerie and haunting love story, one full of unexplainable visions and brazen leaps of faith. Aquarius is well-represented by Sook Yongsheng, a Chinese hatter and lover of opium. Pisces the Fish, Pisces the dreamer, the last sign and the oldest. Pisces yearns for escape, in dreams, in drugs, in art, in the dark damp spaces. Elusive Pisces, the sign of self-undoing! I had a Piscean experience when reading this novel. It was my go-to book for a certain period of time, a little bit nearly every morning and every afternoon, for almost 3 months. I escaped into its depths, it was my sweet sweet drug and I fear that I am suffering from withdrawal. This lengthy review was an attempt to live in it again. Alas, now even this review is over. Pisces is represented - rather poorly - by Cowell Devlin, a chaplain.

  11. 3 out of 5

    Darwin8u

    “The proper way to understand any social system was to view it from above.” ― Eleanor Catton, The Luminaries There is certainly a lot to like about Eleanor's novel. Its structure is fascinatingly clever and reminds me a lot of the way Nabokov divided Ada, or Ardor. Part 1: 360 pgs, Part 2: 160 pgs, Part 3: 104 pgs, Part 4: 96 pgs, Part 5: 40 pages, Part 6: 26 pages, Part 7: 13 pages, Part 8: 10 pgs, Part 9: 6 pgs, Part 10: 6 pgs, Part 11: 4 pages, Part 12: 4 pages. Or looked at slightly differen “The proper way to understand any social system was to view it from above.” ― Eleanor Catton, The Luminaries There is certainly a lot to like about Eleanor's novel. Its structure is fascinatingly clever and reminds me a lot of the way Nabokov divided Ada, or Ardor. Part 1: 360 pgs, Part 2: 160 pgs, Part 3: 104 pgs, Part 4: 96 pgs, Part 5: 40 pages, Part 6: 26 pages, Part 7: 13 pages, Part 8: 10 pgs, Part 9: 6 pgs, Part 10: 6 pgs, Part 11: 4 pages, Part 12: 4 pages. Or looked at slightly differently: XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX XXXXXXXXXXX XXXXXXXXXX XXXX XXX XX X x x . . Compare this to Nabokov's ADA: Part 1: 326 pgs, Part 2: 120, Part 3: 86, Part 4: 32, Part 5: 25 Or looked at slightly differently: 11111111111111111111111111111111 2222222222223333333334444555 Catton is following in the brave tradition of Nabokov, Pynchon, et al in constructing an elaborately structured novel. The plot is interesting, but at times ends up being a little redundant. Do we really need to look at the same event from twelve different angles? OK, I'm not sure if that actually ever happens, but at points in the novel it felt like it did. The problem with Catton is all the writers I want to compare her to (Pynchon, Dickens, Carey, Nabokov) demolish her prose. Her language while precise didn't twinkle or thrill me. Her plot while interesting didn't pull OR push me. Her characters while curious didn't move or provoke me. And her setting, while exotic didn't capture or entice me. I want to give her credit for her MFA/MCW-boxed ambition, but great literature can't be solely rewarded for its ambition and potential. 'The Luminaries' lacked the heart, soul and transcendence that a book about the stars and lovers almost demands. She belongs on the shelf next to Eggers, just not next to Nabokov.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Doctordalek

    Disclaimer: I received this book as part of the Goodreads "First Reads" program. A short word before I get into my review. I understand that this book just isn't for me. It's longlisted for the Booker, Goodreads reviewers generally love it, the author is a real up-and-comer... but it just didn't do it for me. I think it may have been unfortunate that I read this book so quickly after reading another that really blew me away (Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates), so I kept comparing them (even if I Disclaimer: I received this book as part of the Goodreads "First Reads" program. A short word before I get into my review. I understand that this book just isn't for me. It's longlisted for the Booker, Goodreads reviewers generally love it, the author is a real up-and-comer... but it just didn't do it for me. I think it may have been unfortunate that I read this book so quickly after reading another that really blew me away (Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates), so I kept comparing them (even if I didn't want to or mean to) as I read this one. As a quick glance into my mindset, I'll post a comparison here and maybe you can understand why I just couldn't get into the book. Both books included parts where people were looking into mirrors, as a way for the author to describe what drives these superficial, yet self-conscious, people. One of my favorite passages from Revolutionary Road describes *so much* about the character in a single line: "He looked at himself in the mirror, tightening his jaw and turning his head a little to one side to give it a leaner, more commanding look, the face he had given himself in mirrors since boyhood and which no photograph had ever quite achieved..." Amazing. One glance in a mirror and we see how superficial and vulnerable this person is. In The Luminaries, Catton describes a man looking into a mirror in this way. I find it to be terribly long-winded and boring: "Moody was not unaware of the advantage his inscrutable grace afforded him. Like most excessively beautiful persons, he had studied his own reflection minutely and, in a way, knew himself from the outside best; he was always in some chamber of his mind perceiving himself from the exterior. He had passed a great many hours in the alcove of his private dressing room, where the mirror tripled his image into profile, half-profile and square: Van Dyck's Charles, though a good deal more striking. It was a private practice, and one he likely would have denied - for how roundly self-examination is condemned, by the moral prophets of our age! As if the self had no relation to the self, and one only looked in mirrors to have one's arrogance confirmed; as if the act of self-regarding was not as subtle, fraught and ever-changing as any bond between twin souls. In his fascination Moody sought less to praise his own beauty than to master it. Certainly whenever he caught his own reflection, in a window box, or in a pane of glass after nightfall, he felt a thrill of satisfaction - but as an engineer might feel, chancing upon a mechanism of his own devising and finding it splendid, flashing, properly oiled and performing exactly as he had predicted it should." Wow. That's a mouthful that does two things: 1. describes how vulnerable he is via his superficial nature, just like the single line used by Yates, and 2. puts me to sleep. I like the bit about the engineer, it's a great line. That plus one other sentence would have been sufficient. But this book is filled with paragraphs upon paragraphs, pages upon pages, which could be cut out completely or at least shortened considerably. It's over 800 pages that could literally be used to fend off a home intruder. I worry that some young authors feel that they have to write a two-inch-thick saga in order to be taken seriously. I really struggled to read it and found that time was grinding to a halt. I read so I can relax and enjoy being swept away into another world. If this other world is so boring and tortuous that it makes me want to stop reading, it's just not worth it. I obviously don't "get" the book. It's nothing against the author, who will have a long and fruitful career even though I didn't like what she wrote. I feel bad giving it one star, but given that this book made me dread the act of reading - something that I normally *love* - I really couldn't see any other alternative.

  13. 3 out of 5

    Helene Jeppesen

    Wow, I have never ever in my life read a book like this before! A book that made me so confused that I was on the verge of giving up on ever understanding what was going on, but at the same time I was extremely intrigued and needed to know what was happening. I started out as a big question mark, I ended with a smile on my face and a "aha" coming out of my mouth. Still, I'm not confident that I've completely understood everything, but it feels great! It basically feels like Eleanor Catton took m Wow, I have never ever in my life read a book like this before! A book that made me so confused that I was on the verge of giving up on ever understanding what was going on, but at the same time I was extremely intrigued and needed to know what was happening. I started out as a big question mark, I ended with a smile on my face and a "aha" coming out of my mouth. Still, I'm not confident that I've completely understood everything, but it feels great! It basically feels like Eleanor Catton took my mind and tossed it into a tornado before letting everything settle in great understanding. Are you confused by this description? Well, that's what this book does to you. This story takes its focal point in Walter Moody, but at the same time it's not at all about Walter Moody. It is set in New Zealand among gold diggers; however, very little of the story deals with actual gold digging. I think what impresses people the most about this book is the way it is beautifully structured around stars and destinies among stars. The first chapters are endless with one-line introductions - the last chapters are shorter than their introductions. Everything fits perfectly, and this perfection entwines with the story which starts out as a confusing mess but ends with all the answers. I need to reread this book someday because this is one of those books that you need to read again in order to understand everything. However, if you've never read it, I recommend that you do so because this is quite a unique reading experience! :-)

  14. 3 out of 5

    Dan Petegorsky

    For me, at least, the greatest mystery of this massive whodunit is how it won the Booker Prize. I don't think I can do any better describing it than this review from The Guardian, which I'd have been better off reading before I read the novel. While the reviewer sees these traits as a mark of (meta)literary genius, for me it was just the opposite: "But it is also a massive shaggy dog story; a great empty bag; an enormous, wicked, gleeful cheat. For nothing in this enormous book, with its exotic a For me, at least, the greatest mystery of this massive whodunit is how it won the Booker Prize. I don't think I can do any better describing it than this review from The Guardian, which I'd have been better off reading before I read the novel. While the reviewer sees these traits as a mark of (meta)literary genius, for me it was just the opposite: "But it is also a massive shaggy dog story; a great empty bag; an enormous, wicked, gleeful cheat. For nothing in this enormous book, with its exotic and varied cast of characters whose lives all affect each other and whose fates are intricately entwined, amounts to anything like the moral and emotional weight one would expect of it. That's the point, in the end, I think, of The Luminaries. It's not about story at all. It's about what happens to us when we read novels – what we think we want from them – and from novels of this size, in particular. Is it worthwhile to spend so much time with a story that in the end isn't invested in its characters?" In that respect, my answer is decidedly "no," in marked contrast to my experience reading Hannah Kent's Burial Rites - a spare, but beautifully written historical novel of few yet deeply invested characters that also unravels a murder mystery. And which, to deepen the mystery, wasn't even longlisted for the Booker Prize. Go figure.

  15. 3 out of 5

    Jaline

    This is one of the most impressive books I have read in a long time. Complex and filled with fascinating characters that held my interest, in part because time and place were also so vivid and real. I found it very enjoyable!

  16. 5 out of 5

    Emer

    The Luminaries won the Man Booker Prize in 2013 so obviously I had to someday read it. I love reading award winning books and/or critically acclaimed books because they make me feel superior I like to know what those with supposedly excellent taste and years of experience in critiquing books think is top quality. However The Luminaries is 832 pages of story in a hardback weighing 1.088kg (no I didn’t take out my kitchen weighing scales and weigh it because that would be weird……………….. *awkward si The Luminaries won the Man Booker Prize in 2013 so obviously I had to someday read it. I love reading award winning books and/or critically acclaimed books because they make me feel superior I like to know what those with supposedly excellent taste and years of experience in critiquing books think is top quality. However The Luminaries is 832 pages of story in a hardback weighing 1.088kg (no I didn’t take out my kitchen weighing scales and weigh it because that would be weird……………….. *awkward silence*) But as I was saying it’s big!! It’s heavy!! I’m not a fan of weighty books (I have weak wrists) but the gods of Booker were calling me soooo I took the plunge and borrowed it from the library. So what is The Luminaries about??? After 832 pages you think I’d have an answer for you right?????? Yeah………….*grumbles* Okay, okay I am being facetious. It was about solving a series of mysterious occurrences and crimes in 1800s New Zealand when mining the goldfields was the way to make your fortune. So you could say that The Luminaries at its heart was a love story between man and gold! Sing it random dance song whose artist I don’t recall!!!!! It’s all about the money!!! But the reason I was facetious about the plot of this book is because of how long the story took to get going. Oh my god 360 pages of set-up...sooooooooo exhausting!!! (And even after that the story still didn’t feel like it was progressing that much.) Needless to say it got tedious!! So I guess you could say, ‘hey Emer! It seems it was a slow burner, I thought you always said you LIKED slow burners???’ And you know what? You would absolutely positively 100% be right!! I LOVE a good slow burner. Oh when the plot is filled with atmosphere, tension, gorgeous descriptions, in depth characterisations…. Gimme Gimme GIMME!!!!!!!!!!!!! THIS however……… Oh. My. God. D.U.L.L. So here’s the thing Eleanor Catton IS a great writer. Absolutely! Positively!! Yes!!! What she is not, is a good editor!!!! If she can describe one tiny element of person or situation in one paragraph then it is MUCH too brief for her. She needs to write at least two pages about the one thing! And more often than not, it’s not even relevant to the main storyline. And as I said it is lovely to have everything so detailed and described... but to a point!!! If you get too much of one thing it makes you feel queasy. Or it gets boring, dull, repetitive!!! I just wanted to tear my eye balls out from the tediousness of her writing style at times. IT WAS JUST TOO MUCH!!!! I guess I can see how the critics fawned over this writing and her wonderful grasp on the English language but it felt like showing off!!! ‘Hey look, I just thought of another way to say this super smart thing so I’m going to put this in there too….’ *face palm* Sometimes less IS more… know what I’m saying??????? And then we get to the omniscient narrator, narrators, whatever……. He, she, we, it… I do not care!!!! We get it dear all-knowing and powerful narrator!!! You are smart. You are wise. You are always in control directing us poor meek clueless readers…. SPARE ME!!!!!!!!! There is nothing I hate more than a patronising narrator. And good gosh this was a patronising narrator. Oh the arguments I had with this creature… be glad dear goodreaders that you weren’t present to hear the air turning very blue as I unleashed yet another diatribe of expletives on this omniscient douchebag! So let’s talk about the actual book characters. 832 pages they must have been beautifully detailed, exquisite backstories, multi layered, multi-faceted, multi-everything!!! You’d think right??? What we got were pastiches at best. Yes characters had some backstory but they all felt uninspired to me. Predictable. Lacking emotion. Not one character did I feel anything for… not hate, not love, not even like… just a whole lot of apathy. But you kept reading for 832 pages Emer and your status updates stated that you enjoyed the book?? Explain that one!! Hi! My name is Emer and I love to argue with books. In fact I often talk back at them… it’s weird I know!! I have also been known to fire books across rooms (carefully avoiding both small animals and breakables, because animal abuse is wrong and I have to pay for any damage) but then I pick them back up again because love/hate relationships are my jam! See I get this perverse pleasure out of disagreeing with books, especially books with omniscient narrators!!! And even though the writing was oh-so-tedious, in places it was brilliant AND the plot was rather good!!!!! I know, I JUST PRAISED THE BOOK *shocked faces all around* Let’s talk about the plot without spoilers please!! Okay… ahhh this is hard!!! Well as you can imagine at 832 pages this was a plot that kept building and building, and building some more!! The author was very smart with her plot; I will definitely give her that. The whole book was like a puzzle that you had to piece together to figure out the final picture and it was a WHOLE lot of fun!!! Ahhh this is how you do plot twists and turns. I loved how the story built up to a certain day and an event… and then the story moved back in time piecing together all the little snippets of information until the final picture was revealed. Nicely done… UNTIL… The last few pages…………………………… *sigh* Oh we were doing so well dear Luminaries but just go away with your ridiculous ending!!! After 832 pages it needed a stronger finish. It’s not that the story leaves you hanging nastily or anything, although as you might know I do like open-ended narratives… It’s just that it was weak; too quiet. It needed to finish with a bit more fanfare than say a dirge! *sad face* Okay what about all the cool astrological stuff in the book??? I heard that the chapter layout does this really awesome winding down thing??? Ah the astrological crap stuff… It was more of a quirky thing than anything; something to make the book stand out from the masses. Basically different characters were represented by different stellar and planetary objects, and at the beginning of each chapter you could figure out certain things about the events and characters in that chapter… It wasn’t crucial to the storyline; in fact I would go so far as to say wasn’t necessary but it was a bit of fun! And I know nothing about astrology and I was able to figure (most) of it out so it shouldn’t put anyone off reading the book. As for the chapter thing? Well the book is divided into 12 parts and each part is subdivided into chapters. Part one has 12 chapters, part 2 has 11, part 3 has 10 etc until part 12 ends with just the one chapter. Bit of a gimmick!! If the chapter lengths had been roughly equivalent then I would have been more convinced that this was integral to the story but the final 8 parts took place over 120 pages or so??? And the first four parts took roughly 710 pages!! Don’t get me wrong, I was VERY grateful that those last 8 parts picked up the pace because the story needed it desperately; it’s just that sometimes I felt chapters were only called chapters for the sake of this theme and that on many occasions they were just awkwardly divided up. So the big question is overall did you like The Luminaries and would you recommend it? It’s a case of yes and no for liking the book. I am going to award it three stars because it took A LOT of effort to write and absolute respect for that, the plot was intricately woven and I LOVED that… but the narrator needed to be punched, the book needed some serious editing and the characters needed to be more rounded… so I think three is fair enough!! And as for recommending it…HELL YEAH!!! It’s so fun to be all superior and smug at the dinner table saying that you frequently read Booker Prize winners. Way to make your other friends who are only into reading FSoG and gossip mags feel inadequate!!! I absolutely would recommend it because even though this book frequently drove me to the point of insanity it was kinda fun getting that annoyed!! And also I’d really like to discuss this book with my Goodreads friends so READ IT!!!!! And if I can't convince you with my utterly ridiculous and essentially nonsensical review then read Medini’s super awesome review instead. She had a much more positive experience with the book and as I always say, it's always best to get a few differing opinions if you are on the fence about starting a book. three stars ------- 832 pages and THAT'S the freaking ending!!!!!! SERIOUSLY?!?!?!?? All of that build up and puzzle clicking and that's the ending the author chose to go with... *eye roll* And this won the Booker Prize in 2013??? L.O.L. Review to come... ---------- 832 pages long and it weighs more than my dog... Okay that's a slight exaggeration and my dog is freaking tiny but still!!!! JUST THINK OF MY POOR WRISTS PEOPLE!!!!!!! But this book is award winning and oh how I do love to hate recipients of The Man Booker Prize... And then there was Medini's awesome review which is what really swayed me into adding this to my TBR so when I saw this in the library today I had to take it home with me! Wish me luck!!

  17. 3 out of 5

    ·Karen·

    Punching below its weight Maybe the fashion for the kind of book that would land you in the Accident and Emergency Department of your local hospital if you dropped it on your foot has to do with a reaction against our concentration-challenged age of swift soundbites, manic multi-tasking and permanent drip feed of tweets and messages that collude to reduce our ability to focus long and lovingly on one task to the level of a mosquito on speed. David Mitchell recently embraced modern technology by p Punching below its weight Maybe the fashion for the kind of book that would land you in the Accident and Emergency Department of your local hospital if you dropped it on your foot has to do with a reaction against our concentration-challenged age of swift soundbites, manic multi-tasking and permanent drip feed of tweets and messages that collude to reduce our ability to focus long and lovingly on one task to the level of a mosquito on speed. David Mitchell recently embraced modern technology by publishing a story on twitter. On my calculation, that format would take around two weeks just to get through the Character Chart that is so helpfully placed at the beginning of this hefty tome. So, here we have 832 pages of what is a very clever, intricate, well-written, historical mystery novel. But even reading for several hours at a time, an indulgence made easier by the fact that we have no TV blethering in a corner of the room, and more difficult by the fact that there is a need to earn a bit of money and speak to people and get off the sofa and move about a bit sometimes, it still took me eight days to plough through all 832. Why on earth, I kept asking myself. Ruth Rendell is just as good, if less historically minded, if I want a cheery bit of murder and mayhem and a nice wee puzzle solved at the end. Why on earth does Ms Catton have the gall to expect me to spend so much time on a glorious gallimaufry that gets untangled quite nicely, yes, thank you, but at great, irritating length? And how, oh how, did this ever win a literary prize? Indeed, one of the respected literary prizes. It is competent, no question about it. The puzzle is very intricately plotted, and everything comes together satisfactorily, no loose threads left dangling to snag on a hangnail, no. But why does Ms Catton have to take three hundred and eighty seven pages on her exposition alone? Well, for one thing she does take loving care over her characters, taking paragraphs to carefully fill in all the details of their appearance and personality. And it is all wonderfully done, yes, but the thing is it doesn't matter. Walter Moody, for example, physically attractive, easy to get on with, roguish, unsullied vigour, uninclined to sulk, people take to him easily, Edinburgh background, troubled family, not superstitious, blah blah blah blah bah, but then, having met this charming chappie, we never see him again for around 350 pages, and when we do, he is there in order to resume and summarise the intriguing and complex set-up, helpful, yes, but his character is entirely irrelevant to the function he has to fulfill. All we really need to know about him is that he has some legal training, because later he will do a fantastic job in The Courtroom Scene. But whether he wears yellow trousers or grey, or blows his nose into a hanky or his fingers doesn't make any difference to that. I'm sure that Ms. Catton was trying to be helpful, build up a picture in the reader's mind, so that she would recognize the bank clerk, the commission merchant, the justice's clerk when she meets them again. But this particular reader had trouble storing quite so much information about 15 white men, so I ended up thinking that maybe Dickens got it right, giving a character an unmistakeable quirk: an odd name like Uriah Heep, or an eccentric way of speaking, like Jingle. Dickens' characters may have been flat, but as Forster said, they vibrate very fast. But for all that, a literary prize winner that demands so much time should offer more, surely? Layers, depths, something that quivers and resonates with more than mere curiosity to see how it works out? I thought I had spotted the odd hint: a thought about loyalty opposed to honesty; the conflict between different codes of morality, amongst the men of the goldfields opposed to official, legal authority; how hard it is to break out of our own concepts. But they fizzled out very swiftly, so that all I was left with was the weird astrology stuff, Venus in Aries, True Node in Sagittarius, Jupiter in Aspic. Whatever. Are we really expected to take all this seriously? I don't think so. Oh, and how clever the structure is, each section half the length of the one before and so on - it's admirably clever, but it doesn't mean anything. It has done one thing for me. Apart from exercising my flexor carpi ulnaris. I have decided to go more with non-fiction for a while. It doesn't feel like quite such a waste of time.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Lawyer

    The Luminaries: What Hath Eleanor Catton Wrought? Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow, Creeps in this petty pace from day to day, To the last syllable of recorded time; And all our yesterdays have lighted fools The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle! Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player, That struts and frets his hour upon the stage, And then is heard no more. It is a tale Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, Signifying nothing.-Macbeth, Act Five, Scene Five, William Shakespeare Elean The Luminaries: What Hath Eleanor Catton Wrought? Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow, Creeps in this petty pace from day to day, To the last syllable of recorded time; And all our yesterdays have lighted fools The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle! Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player, That struts and frets his hour upon the stage, And then is heard no more. It is a tale Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, Signifying nothing.-Macbeth, Act Five, Scene Five, William Shakespeare Eleanor Catton remains the youngest woman to have been awarded The Man Booker Prize. Her novel, The Luminaries, logging in at eight hundred thirty four pages, is the longest novel to have received the award. Ms. Catton is one of only two New Zealanders who has won this distinguished literary prize. These interesting tidbits of information do not address, nor should address the literary merit of this massive novel. Having quoted Shakespeare's "Macbeth," I do not intimate that The Luminaries should be considered a tale told by an idiot. Oh, no. Catton has artfully crafted a complex behemoth of a tale of the Gold Rush of 1866 in New Zealand. This is a work that carries great promise. The scope of Catton's cast of characters intimates she has done her research on the New Zealand gold fields. The ultimate question is whether Catton's tale, artfully crafted or not, leaves the reader with the satisfaction of having completed a work that leaves a lasting impression, or at least some semblance of significance. The Luminaries is replete with diggers, businessmen, politicians, Chinese miners and dispensers of opium, ladies of the evening, to use the appropriate Victorian vernacular. The plot winds through time, conveying the reader through the perceptions of a dozen characters. It stands to reason that while the perception of an individual may constitute reality to that particular person, the perceptions of twelve different individuals definitely does not constitute a reality the reader may recognize as accurate. Careening through Catton's convoluted plot, her players strutting upon her literary stage never develop substantive form. They are incomplete shadows. We never develop a true sense of who these people are. This novel has been called a parody of the Victorian novel. The reader is tempted to resort to the term Dickensian. The name Wilkie Collins has also been bandied about as a writer whose style Catton so ably captured. However, what is obviously Catton's cleverness in the construction of this novel, leaves this reviewer with the impression of having been told a joke overly long that concludes with a punchline that did not merit the length of the telling. And, so it goes.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Emma

    I LOVED this- best book I've read in a long time. It gripped me from the beginning. Its a very clever, very well plotted intrigue of a book. Layer upon layer is added to the intrigue and all is not revealed until the final pages. Highly recommended. May 2018 Still loved this on rereading. The audio was excellent. God knows how the narrator managed to do so many varied accents so well. It is the time of the gold rush in New Zealand, the 1860s, where a rich and full cast are brought together in what I LOVED this- best book I've read in a long time. It gripped me from the beginning. Its a very clever, very well plotted intrigue of a book. Layer upon layer is added to the intrigue and all is not revealed until the final pages. Highly recommended. May 2018 Still loved this on rereading. The audio was excellent. God knows how the narrator managed to do so many varied accents so well. It is the time of the gold rush in New Zealand, the 1860s, where a rich and full cast are brought together in what amounts almost to a comedy of errors. For a lover of historical fiction this book was a real treat! Recommended.

  20. 5 out of 5

    David Hebblethwaite

    If I were to rank the books I’ve read during the last five years (and there are over 500 of them) in order of enjoyment, Eleanor Catton’s The Rehearsal would be right at the top of the list. I bought it on a whim, knowing nothing about it; I was nearly put off by its mannered style; but then everything clicked into place, and I ended up with one of the greatest reading experiences of my life. Naturally, then, I’ve been eager ever since to read a second novel by Catton. Four years after reading Th If I were to rank the books I’ve read during the last five years (and there are over 500 of them) in order of enjoyment, Eleanor Catton’s The Rehearsal would be right at the top of the list. I bought it on a whim, knowing nothing about it; I was nearly put off by its mannered style; but then everything clicked into place, and I ended up with one of the greatest reading experiences of my life. Naturally, then, I’ve been eager ever since to read a second novel by Catton. Four years after reading The Rehearsal, I have now had that opportunity. At first sight, The Luminaries appears a very different proposition from Catton’s debut: at 830 pages in hardback, it is more than twice the length of The Rehearsal. Where the first novel was set in a deliberately non-specific contemporary Western milieu, the new book is tied firmly to a time and place: the New Zealand gold rush town of Hokitika in 1865-6. Where The Rehearsal was fractured and stylised, The Luminaries has the appearance of being more conventional: the chronology leaps back at one point, and the novel’s twelve parts grow progressively shorter, but there’s nothing as obvious as The Rehearsal’s non-linear blurring of realities; and Catton’s prose remains within a largely convincing 19th-century idiom. Things are not as simple as they seem, however. What made The Rehearsal stand out so much for me was how its unconventional form and style so completely embodied its central concern of performance, and reflected that back in myriad ways throughout the book. Catton does the same thing in The Luminaries, with a different set of concerns – but the extent of it only becomes apparent once you’ve finished. Before I get further into that, some plot: we begin on 27 January 1866, when Walter Moody, a Scottish lawyer, walks into the smoking room of Hokatika’s Crown Hotel, disturbing twelve men in conference. Gradually gaining their trust, Moody hears their story: a couple of weeks earlier, a hermit named Crosbie Wells was found dead in his cottage, and a not inconsiderable fortune soon after. Around the same time, a young woman was found unconscious from opium in the road, apparently having tried to commit suicide. Through acquaintance with each other, each of the twelve men discovered that he was somehow connected to these events; so they decided to gather together in this room to discuss what may have happened, and what could be done. As the novel progresses, more and more connections between the characters become apparent, revealing a complex and dastardly plot. It’s not for me to say much more about the twists and turns; but I will say that, if you want a page-turning murder mystery, you will find one in The Luminaries. This book is as tense and exciting a read as I have come across in a long time. But Catton does not stop there. If you read any articles about The Luminaries, you’ll soon hear about its elaborate astrological underpinning. Twelve of Catton’s characters (the twelve men interrupted by Walter Moody) represent the signs of the zodiac; another seven represent planetary bodies (Moody is Mercury, for instance). Catton calculated the horoscope for Hokatika during the calendar year in which The Luminaries is set, and transposed the changing positions of each body into the relationships between her characters. Now, for many readers (including myself), I suspect this would not be a satisfactory end in itself: if you don’t know much about astrology, you won’t spot the connections; if you don’t believe in it, then you probably won’t care anyway. But what this astrological foundation does, to my mind, is set up some of the novel’s main subtexts. One of these, as I’ve hinted above, is the idea of connection and relation. This is perhaps most obvious in the mystery itself: ‘there is no truth except truth in relation’ (p. 364), as Catton’s omniscient narrator puts it; and, indeed, no single character knows the full truth of Crosbie Wells’s death, or the plot going on around it. But we also see this theme manifest in the way that so many of the characters are trying to forge their own paths in life, to act on or against the world (gold prospectors in search of a life-transforming nugget, of course, but others as well), yet are scuppered by the actions of others. Catton’s characters are enmeshed in a web of interdependence that they can only begin to comprehend. But the zodiac is not only a structure for connecting relationships in this novel; it’s also an artificial pattern imposed by humans on the night sky – and most of the characters have no truck with it. There are several ways in which Catton examines how we try to impose order on reality, and the implications and limitations of doing so. A murder mystery, for example, traditionally relies on a pattern being imposed upon seemingly unconnected facts. There are two major scenes in The Luminaries where this happens: when Moody sums up the accounts of the men in the Crown Hotel, and a later courtroom scene. Both of these sequences end with someone rushing in to announce an unexpected development. It’s a rather melodramatic device, but I see it as a literal interruption of disorder: the facts have been arranged to the characters’ satisfaction; everything seems to make sense – then in comes someone to reveal that it doesn’t. A classic fictional edifice is undermined with one of its own tools. More pointedly than murder mysteries, there’s another example of a pattern placed over reality in the form of the gold mines themselves. These affect the world physically, silting up the Hokitika River; and Catton never allows us to forget that this is land which once belonged to the Maori. ‘You with your greenstone, us with our gold. It might just as well be the other way about,’ says one character to the Maori Te Rau Tauwhare. ‘No,’ replies Tauwhare, ‘it is not the same’ (p. 814) – but that is as much as we hear. These issues may not be explored in detail in The Luminaries (the book's structure restricts Tauwhare's voice, mirroring the wider society) but Tauwhare still speaks eloquently, for all that he does not say. I said earlier that each of the novel’s twelve parts is shorter than the last; more precisely, each part is half the length of the previous one (so Part I is nearly half the book, part XII just a few dozen words). This gives The Luminaries the shape of a golden spiral. It also acts like a spiral – or, to keep up the celestial theme, a black hole, stripping out information as it goes. Though the novel begins with the immersive detail of a mystery, when the focus moves back to 1865 to tell the events leading up to Crosbie Wells’s murders, the chapters then get shorter and shorter – the narrative breaks apart. Here, the novel begins to embody the tension between the open future and rueful hindsight, the sense of predestination and the sense of free will. The summaries heading each chapter (all beginning: 'In which...') take on more of the detail. Without these, each chapter would be a floating fragment of time with no context; the only reason we can place them is that we know what has come afterwards. So the novel spirals down to a singularity, a moment poised between the infinite possibility ahead for those experiencing it, and the inevitable tragedy that we know will unfold. What may seem foreordained after the event is, we see, nothing of the sort in the present moment. I finished The Luminaries grinning from ear to ear at the experience of having read a novel so completely and idiosyncratically realised. Moments like that are one reason I read books in the first place; and they’re why, for me, Eleanor Catton belongs in the first rank of authors writing today.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Julie Christine

    The Wild, Wild West, a frontier filled with dreamers, convicts, schemers and entrepreneurs. Some hope to make that lucky strike, others attach themselves like parasites to stars on the rise and the canniest let the eager do the dirty work while they provide the booze, drugs and women for which all men—regardless of their luck—will lay down cash money. This is the Gold Rush, the West Coast, the late 1860’s—but we’re not in California, Toto. This is the South Island of New Zealand, circa 1866, in The Wild, Wild West, a frontier filled with dreamers, convicts, schemers and entrepreneurs. Some hope to make that lucky strike, others attach themselves like parasites to stars on the rise and the canniest let the eager do the dirty work while they provide the booze, drugs and women for which all men—regardless of their luck—will lay down cash money. This is the Gold Rush, the West Coast, the late 1860’s—but we’re not in California, Toto. This is the South Island of New Zealand, circa 1866, in the wet, green folds of the Southern Alps where they tumble into the Tasman Sea. Eleanor Catton’s The Luminaries is also the frontier of storytelling—a no-holds-barred, raucous flight of imagination that I devoured with Epicurean pleasure. Jumping into its alphabet-soup cast of characters with chewy names like Emery Staines (an angelic young man, popular, rich and missing), Cowell Devlin (a man of God), George Shepard (whose flocks are housed in the town jail) and Anna Wetherell (a prostitute~ingenue who weathers all kinds of storms) is like tumbling in a dryer with towels and tennis shoes. You never know when you’ll get smacked upside the head with a plot twist. This is a Gold Rush-era version of The Usual Suspects: Everyone’s got a story and no one is telling the truth. In this case, a hermitic prospector is dead, the town’s richest man is missing, a prostitute is senseless and wearing a dress lined with gold, a politician is being blackmailed, a body rises from its makeshift coffin in a doomed ship’s cargo hold and a beautiful redhead has just sashayed into town, claiming to be a widow and seeking what remains of her husband’s estate. Spinning all around this stage are twelve Luminaries: a constellation of men whose points of view we dip into throughout the novel, trying to unravel a mystery that is woven more tightly with each page. Much has been made of Catton’s clever structure: The Luminaries is a set piece held aloft by an astrological chart that divides each part into smaller and smaller sections (Part One is 358 pages long; Part Twelve, two), according to celestial logic. But don’t be deterred by this ornamentation. I didn’t pay a whit of attention to the charts that precede each section—I couldn’t be distracted from carrying on with the story. Yet, there is something to be said for Catton’s conceit. The novel begins with a crowded, opulent jumble of characters and detail, like a sky full of dazzling stars. As its 832 pages turn, black space is allowed in, the focus narrows and individual details begin to sharpen. The tale is told first from outside-in, then inside-out, from high to low, back-to-front, by the dead and the living, in court, in bed and in confession. Mystery is added to adventure and star-crossed love eventually conquers all. I can’t remember when I’ve taken such delight in reading, when I felt the author’s sheer joy in writing. I've seen a handful of gripes that Catton’s story and style lack warmth and her characters are shallow. I dunno. I didn’t get a sense that she intended to write epic historical fiction in which the characters’ characters rise and fall and rise again and we feel morally lifted from the lessons learned. Sometimes it’s perfectly all right for the reading experience to be sheer pleasure. When it’s not only pleasurable, but intellectually stimulating, laugh-out-loud surprising and historically illuminating, you’ve got a five-star read. Eleanor Catton has crafted a rollicking, unexpected and deeply satisfying carnival ride that ends all too soon. I doff my top hat and bow. Brava.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

    jeez!!! holy smokes, you guys!! i finished this book nearly a week ago now and have been struggling so hard with my thoughts on it. i didn't love it and i didn't dislike it, but there's something i just can't quite put my finger on here, that made the book feel kind of off for me. i had been anticipating this read so, so much, so i definitely feel disappointed. i don't think my expectations were sky-high and impossible though. i have not yet read catton's first novel, The Rehearsal, though i do o jeez!!! holy smokes, you guys!! i finished this book nearly a week ago now and have been struggling so hard with my thoughts on it. i didn't love it and i didn't dislike it, but there's something i just can't quite put my finger on here, that made the book feel kind of off for me. i had been anticipating this read so, so much, so i definitely feel disappointed. i don't think my expectations were sky-high and impossible though. i have not yet read catton's first novel, The Rehearsal, though i do own it. so my excitement was not based on already being a big fan from her previous work. i think my expectations were mostly based on the book's setting - i really have not read very much new zealand-based fiction, and then the chunk-factor was running high for me -- it's a big, fat novel, 800+ pages. YAY!! i did really enjoy when the book focused on the location and described the settings. that was probably my favourite bit. but this book is, i think, more complicated than it needs to be. when i say complicated...i don't mean hard or challenging. there are a lot of characters (20 of them) and a thread of plot is woven through each one. they are all tied together by a single plot point. this is fine -- the characters are distinct enough and interesting enough that they aren't confusing. but to stretch out one single aspect of any novel, for more than 800 pages...well, it's a lot. the narrative is non-linear. i am fine with that. and as much as i love big, fat books...i think this book could have been amazing if 200-300 pages were edited out. there were definitely times when i felt like i was just reading padding and imaging what might have been in a tighter telling? there is a bit of a gimmick going on too, with over-informative chapter introductions, (for example: chapter titled "Mercury in Aquarius": "In which Moody passes on some vital information, and Sook Yongsheng presents him with a gift." which is a less informative example, to avoid spoilers for you all...but you get the idea.) astrological signs and stellar & planetary phases. for me, this aspect of the story was a bit too much telling from the author. i understand the intros to each chapter may be borrowing from victorian lit., but it didn't add to the novel. in fact, it served to irritate me and i tended to skip over them, then read them once i had finished a chapter. re: astrological signs and moon phases: the characters were well-drawn, we were able to gain a solid picture of what they were each about without the padding from their star signs. i think i get what catton was aiming for in this purposeful choice - some characters are represented in the 'stellar' phase of the novel and others are 'planetary'. one man = dry land/earth. there are 12 related houses (settings) and 7 related influences (reason, desire, force, command...) how much in life is based on internal forces/choices and how much is external/fate? but it just didn't work for me. it was a bit twee. so...since finishing the read, i have been reading many, many reviews for the book, trying to wrap my head around my own thoughts and feelings. overwhelmingly, this book is loved. the critics are a-gushing. of course, if you follow these things, the luminaries was longlisted shortlisted won the 2013 booker prize. so i am glad i read this one. as the book becomes more widely read, i will be interested to hear what others think.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth Knox

    This is my speech for the launch of Eleanor Catton's The Luminaries at Unity Books in Wellington, 3 August 2013. 'Fergus' is Fergus Barrowman, my husband, and Ellie's New Zealand Publisher. I was honoured that Ellie asked me to launch her novel. http://bit.ly/16T1j5h

  24. 3 out of 5

    Mona

    Good Story and Characters, but Tediously Long Winded and Repetitive Here's an 834 page novel that would have been much better if it had been cut to 250 pages. This book needed (and didn't get) a ruthless editor. Ok, I get that this is supposed to be in the style of a nineteenth century novel, since it takes place in New Zealand in the 1860's. But all this quaintness and repetition got on my nerves. None of the nineteenth century novels I've read have been so redundant and long winded. I've read that Good Story and Characters, but Tediously Long Winded and Repetitive Here's an 834 page novel that would have been much better if it had been cut to 250 pages. This book needed (and didn't get) a ruthless editor. Ok, I get that this is supposed to be in the style of a nineteenth century novel, since it takes place in New Zealand in the 1860's. But all this quaintness and repetition got on my nerves. None of the nineteenth century novels I've read have been so redundant and long winded. I've read that writers should show and not tell; and cut anything that doesn't advance the story. Catton follows neither of these dictums. She does a lot of telling, and there is a lot of blah-blah-blah that doesn't advance the story, but merely repeats things we already know. Nevertheless, I gave this 3 stars, not 2, since the story and characters are interesting. So is the local color and history. Much of the book, including chapter headings, is structured around astrology. Hence the book's title, a pun referring to both heavenly bodies and inspiring people. The convoluted epic plot involves many characters. It mainly takes place in and around the New Zealand gold fields in 1865 and 1866, specifically in the towns of Hokitika and Kaniere. There are also some scenes on board various ships, especially the Godspeed, captained by Francis Carver, who I describe a bit more below. For the first half of the book, we learn very little, but the same facts are repeated over and over again. It's not until a meeting of twelve (get it? the twelve signs of the Zodiac) local men to share their separate knowledge of events (an artificial plot device if I ever saw one) that our understanding of the story advances. (Actually I think it becomes thirteen men, after one addition, but he's an outsider. Not positive I got those numbers right, though). The meeting starts at the book's beginning, but it's not until we're nearly half way through the novel that we get to piece the individual stories together. And it's not until nearly the end of the book that we learn most of the remainder of the story (in spite of the book's excessive length, we never really get the complete picture, which is also frustrating). I guess this is supposed to be a crime novel/murder mystery of sorts, although I don't think it's terribly successful along those lines. Fairly early in the book, a dead body shows up. Through an endless series of plot complications we eventually find out why it happened. Although honestly, at the end I still wasn't totally clear on all the details of how this character died. We meet a large and colorful cast of characters. We encounter most of them in Hokitika, although many have come there from elsewhere. There is Anna Wetherell, a pretty and popular local whore. She is unpretentious and straightforward (for the most part). Many local men enjoy Anna's company; several are in love with her. She develops an opium addiction. Crosbie Wells is the dead man. He was married to Lydia Wells (nee Greenway), a beautiful woman and a local entrepreneur/madame. At the time of Crosbie's death he and Lydia are separated. There's Dick Mannering, another local entrepreneur (also a whoremonger). Charlie Frost is a naive, young banker. There are two Chinese men: Sook Yongsheng, an indentured hatter (local terminology for someone who digs for gold alone) and small time Kaniere opium dealer; and Quee Long, a goldsmith. There's Jo Pritchard the local chemist (pharmacist) and Aubert Gascoigne, a Frenchman who clerks for a local judge. Alistair Lauderback is a politician running for office. Edgar Clinch runs the Gridiron, a Hokitika hotel. Te Rau Tauwhare is a Maori guide and interpreter, who hunts greenstone, which is esteemed by the Maoris. Irishman Cowell Devlin is the chaplain at the jail. George Shepard is the governor of the jail, and his wife is Margaret. Walter Moody, trained as a lawyer in Scotland, comes to dig for gold. Emery Staines, a rich young prospector who owns half of Hokitika, is missing and may also be dead. Last, but not least, is Francis Carver, a ship's captain and ex-convict. There are many other minor characters, such as various lawyers for the prosecution. About three quarters of the way through the book, there is a big court trial. This is mostly a plot device for us to find out more about what happened. Not a terribly original plot device, but I suppose it works. The story is quite convoluted. Besides, I don't want to reveal any spoilers. There's lots of plotting and double-crossing. Several characters have a virulent hatred of Chinamen. I won't say much more about the story itself. I wasn't always crazy about Mark Meadows' style of reading the audio. He got the many different types of accents correctly, I think. But sometimes he hammed it up; and I'm never wild about ham actors. He read Mrs. Wells as if she were a drag queen, exaggerating all of her speech. He did something similar with George Shepherd. Admittedly, both of these characters are jerks, but I think that could have been conveyed in a more understated way. I listened to the audiobook, but also read along in the Kindle version. I recommend looking at a physical or digital version of the book in addition to/instead of listening to it. There are illustrations and maps that one needs to see. Many of the chapter titles are astrological, and have accompanying charts

  25. 5 out of 5

    Jill

    This is the most cliched review you'll read today but: Show, don't tell. Like come on, guys! To know this axiom is to have completed the third grade. And yet there are authors--acclaimed and published authors--who do not abide by it. Such is Eleanor Catton. I didn't finish the book, but I'm hoping someone posts a spoilerish summary soon because in terms of plot and setting, the story is great. Any combination of these ideas--19th Century New Zealand Gold Rush Opium Murder Whore--is bound to be en This is the most cliched review you'll read today but: Show, don't tell. Like come on, guys! To know this axiom is to have completed the third grade. And yet there are authors--acclaimed and published authors--who do not abide by it. Such is Eleanor Catton. I didn't finish the book, but I'm hoping someone posts a spoilerish summary soon because in terms of plot and setting, the story is great. Any combination of these ideas--19th Century New Zealand Gold Rush Opium Murder Whore--is bound to be entertaining. But the story is weighed down by overwrought description. There are descriptions enduring dozens of paragraphs about a character's personality. Don't tell me who someone is; show me through clever use of anecdotes and dialogue. Catton can write circles around almost everyone (seriously: she maintains a Dickensian English throughout the entire tome), but until she learns the cardinalest of cardinal rules of writing, I will not be reading her work.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Didi

    EXCELLENT! It's really a masterpiece and hard to wrap my head around the idea that the author Eleanor Catton was only 28 when she wrote it and she won the Man Booker. Brilliant! IT took me a while to read it because the book is very dense. There's a lot to process all the time, however once you get past page 300 I feel things get a lot easier to process. I recommend the hardcover because the typography is well spaced in comparison to the paperback. Definitely a must read.

  27. 3 out of 5

    Bettie☯

    (view spoiler)[Bettie's Books (hide spoiler)] OMG OMG can I just do the gasp breathe gasp thing here

  28. 4 out of 5

    Medini

    Why I did not want to read this book initially: 1. This book won the Booker Prize in 2013. I know people specifically seek out award winning and nominated books, but I tend to be a little wary of such books. I know… I’m weird that way. 2. At 834 pages, this book is MASSIVE. 3. There’s this astrological and zodiac aspect to this book, which I didn’t think I would understand. 4. I didn’t own it, nor did I know anyone who had this book. I didn’t want to read such a huge book in the ebook format. But Why I did not want to read this book initially: 1. This book won the Booker Prize in 2013. I know people specifically seek out award winning and nominated books, but I tend to be a little wary of such books. I know… I’m weird that way. 2. At 834 pages, this book is MASSIVE. 3. There’s this astrological and zodiac aspect to this book, which I didn’t think I would understand. 4. I didn’t own it, nor did I know anyone who had this book. I didn’t want to read such a huge book in the ebook format. But then I visited a library recently and my sister picked this book up. It took me almost a week to read it, but I am SO GLAD. Coz The Luminaries blew me away. It is 1866, and young Walter Moody has come to make his fortune upon the New Zealand goldfields. On the stormy night of his arrival, he stumbles across a tense gathering of twelve local men who have met in secret to discuss a series of unexplained events: A wealthy man has vanished, a prostitute 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 ornate as the night sky. This is not just a book. It is a masterpiece with a marvelously structured storyline, a devilishly intricate plot and superlative writing. ‘… his memory, recoiling upon itself, had met its obverse, the power of forgetting, and had conjured the mist and driving rain as a kind of cloth, spectral, to screen him from the shapes of his own recent past.’ Why should you read this book? 1. Firstly, the most unique thing about The Luminaries is its structure. There are 12 chapters, each of which is almost exactly half the length of the previous. So the chapters go on decreasing in length steadily, till the twelfth chapter wherein the introduction is longer than the content itself. Also, the book is constructed like the phases of the moon. The plot begins and 400 pages in, it reaches a climax. Then the flashbacks begin and the last chapter ends once again at the beginning. So it’s really like the lunar cycle; the narrative is brought back around to meet its starting point. Incidentally, the city in which most of the story is set in, ‘Hokitika’, literally means ‘full circle’. 2. It is historical fiction set in 1865-66. If you’re a fan of this genre, then this book should be at the top of your TBR. 3. Unlike the Victorian London and American historical fiction setting (SO commonplace), this is set in New Zealand! Which is so refreshing! I’ll be the first to admit that the cities and names were a little unusual, but it’s still amazing! 4. The plot is centered on the New Zealand Gold Rush. We learn about diggers, the gold mines, the process of retorting and smelting gold, gold magnates, prospectors, the greed, corruption and yes, sometimes moral fiber that controls the actions of the characters. 5. There is a murder. But to call this book a murder mystery would be like calling Harry Potter a book about 'this boy who knows magic', or A Game of Thrones a book about 'this girl with dragons'! You get my drift, right? The Luminaries is so complex; there are opium dens, séances, exotic dancing bars (“The House of Many Wishes”), forgeries, long lost siblings, prostitutes, adultery, fraud, blackmail, theft, betrayal, politics, banking, shipping, insurance, finance, a fabulous courtroom scene and yes, there’s a romance too. 6. There is an eclectic cast of morally ambiguous characters. They’re written with a lot of insight and have their own flaws and quirks, which make them unique and unforgettable. There are 12 major ones, each represented by a zodiac sign. There are 5 other equally important characters represented by planets. Each chapter begins by telling you what’s gonna happen, like, Jupiter in Sagittarius, so you can figure out who’s Jupiter and you can relate the characteristics of Sagittarius to the character who represents it. It’s not as tedious as it sounds. It’s a lot of fun. 7. There’s a paranormal element, which reveals itself towards the end. I loved, LOVED the cosmic twins theory connecting (view spoiler)[Anna Wetherell and Emery Staines (hide spoiler)] , two of my favorite characters. Read more about this here. 8. The writing (for me) was spot on. Eleanor Catton’s use of metaphors and her sentence construction drew me in like the sweet, intoxicating haze of opium smoke. ‘… the bloody smell of slaughter intermingled with the sour, briny smell of the sea, putting one in mind, perpetually, of an untended icebox in which an uncured joint has spoiled.’ ‘Within minutes they sighed, became drowsy, and passed into the underwater moonscape of a strange, scarlet-tinted sleep.’ 9. You don’t need to know a damn thing about astrology, mining, banking or shipping to savor this book. Every detail interspersed, every astrological chart at the beginning of each chapter contributes to this book’s richness. 10. I’m not ashamed to say I learnt a lot of new words. I mean, it’s not every day you come across words such as ‘chorister’ or ‘scree’ or ‘andiron’ 11. Eleanor Catton is fiendishly clever . She’s woven these minute details, which seemingly make no sense, but are all part of the gloriously twisted web that is The Luminaries. For example, the value of the gold discovered is exactly 4096 pounds. 4096 is 2 to the power of 12 and there are 12 chapters. 12. When you do manage to sort out this tangled skein of plot threads and unravel all the mysteries, the revelation is like scattered stars finally forming a magnificent constellation and everything makes sense again. Bear in mind, this book isn’t for everyone. I did object to a few parts, the excessive ill treatment of the Asians and the unequal page space for all the characters. Also, I would have liked to know more about Walter Moody and Ben Lowenthal. However, I finished the book with a dropped jaw and a mouth hanging open. I can’t wait to re-read this beauty and witness the subtle nuances better, the second time around. *ALL THE STARS IN THE SKY*

  29. 5 out of 5

    Maxwell

    This needs no review, except to say that reading this was an experience I'll not soon forget (akin to reading The Goldfinch), and it has quickly become one of my favorite books of the year, if not of all time. ----- Favorite Quotes:: "Some folks are dealt a bad hand. But you can't rely on another person's conscience to live the life you want to live. You make do with what you're given; you struggle on." "For although a man is judged by his actions, by what he has said and done, a man judges himself This needs no review, except to say that reading this was an experience I'll not soon forget (akin to reading The Goldfinch), and it has quickly become one of my favorite books of the year, if not of all time. ----- Favorite Quotes:: "Some folks are dealt a bad hand. But you can't rely on another person's conscience to live the life you want to live. You make do with what you're given; you struggle on." "For although a man is judged by his actions, by what he has said and done, a man judges himself by what he is willing to do, by what he might have said, or might have done--a judgment that is necessarily hampered not only by the scope and limits of his imagination, but by the ever-changing measure of his doubt and self-esteem." "Prayers often begin as memories. When we remember those whom we have loved, and miss them, naturally we hope for their safety and their happiness, wherever they might be. That hope turns into a wish, and whenever a wish is voiced, even silently, even without words, it becomes a supplication. Perhaps we don't know to whom we're speaking; perhaps we ask before we truly know who's listening, or before we even believe that listener exists. But I judge it's a very fine beginning, to make a practice of remembering those people we have loved." "True feeling is always circular--either circular, or paradoxical--simply because its cause and its expression are two halves of the very same thing! Love cannot be reduced to a catalogue of reasons why, and a catalogue of reasons cannot be put together into love. Any man who disagrees with me has never been in love--not truly."

  30. 5 out of 5

    Cheryl

    The setting is in the gold rush days of 19th century New Zealand. There is an intricate plot and a theatrical cast of characters whose passions, motivations, and desires bounce and reflect off each other in a dizzying kaleidoscope. But it is the method of spinning the story that has synergistically bumped up the complexity. Why choose A+B+C=D when E=MC2 can be so much more fun to work with? Or in this case, the architecture of astrology. “I previously had a rudimentary understanding of how astro The setting is in the gold rush days of 19th century New Zealand. There is an intricate plot and a theatrical cast of characters whose passions, motivations, and desires bounce and reflect off each other in a dizzying kaleidoscope. But it is the method of spinning the story that has synergistically bumped up the complexity. Why choose A+B+C=D when E=MC2 can be so much more fun to work with? Or in this case, the architecture of astrology. “I previously had a rudimentary understanding of how astrology works,” the author says. “But I became really taken with the idea that what it is fundamentally about is there is no truth except for truth in relation: nothing is objectively true, something is only true compared to something else.”  (From an interview with Tom Tivnan at WeLoveThisBook.com) Twelve characters are based on signs of the zodiac, and several others are “planetary” characters. Just as astrology (which incidentally Catton regards as “silly”), represents the interaction of the planets and constellations, so goes the course of the story. Nothing is true except when compared to something else. (See Aaron's great review about the role of the astrology: http://www.typographicalera.com/lumin... ). But this is a framing device well cloaked in the Victorian story-telling style. It is an old-fashioned yarn, taking part in the ‘olden days’, and is replete with reprobates, whores, greedy graspers, moralising bigots, and a fair share of pompous white guys representing the self-regarding pillars of society. One Maori fella (a surprisingly minor role for the Maori in this tale) and a couple of Chinese characters from Chinatown round out the cast. Someone dies, by fair or foul means? And who gets his gold? The characters’ psychologies are richly drawn: “Moody was not unaware of the advantage his inscrutable grace afforded him. Like most excessively beautiful persons, he had studied his own reflection minutely and, in a way, knew himself from the outside best; he was always in some chamber of his mind perceiving himself from the exterior.” Of the town whore Anna, and her clients: “If they spoke at all, they spoke about other women—the sweethearts they had lost, the wives they had abandoned, their mothers, their sisters, their daughters, their wards. They sought these women when they looked at Anna, but only partly, for they also sought themselves: she was a reflected darkness, just as she was a borrowed light. Her wretchedness was, she knew, extremely reassuring.” Anna knows that ‘A woman fallen has no future; a man risen has no past.’ It is the exceptional psychological portraits and lyrical prose which elevates this beyond a Victorian murder mystery dressed up in a gimmicky device. It is a stellar achievement.

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