One day perhaps. I think I should read more authors from NZ. And of course to have a New Zealand writer given such prominence and acknowledgement is wonderful. Yes it is nice to see an author from NZ given such recognition. Good to know I am not alone on the Man Booker Winners selection and yes I am more likely to find something I like from the Long and shortlists! I enjoyed reading this insightful review. I relish books that delve into the psychology of the characters and this one seems to do that well.
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But there are many layers here that make it very appealing. If you enjoy the psychology of characters, you will definitely relish this. In a way, it is a pity it is so long, because many of those passages bear rereading, which I did while I was on the page, but not so easy to come back too, given the monumental scale of this project. Sometimes we just have to let go and enjoy the read.
Pingback: Luminaries links Follow the Thread. Eventually I may return to this book.
Though your review is very lovely written and makes me maybe want to reconsider. I do hope you find the right time to pick it up again, sometimes it is just the timing, I usually save a big book like this for a holiday read, so put an extra effort into reading this during a busy period so as not to take weeks to read it.
It is at least a well paced read. Beautiful review, Claire! I love the structure of the book — how each chapter is half the length of the previous chapter. Glad to know that inspite of its size, the book is not difficult to read. I have ordered it and I am hoping to read it soon. Thanks for this wonderful review. Like a work of art, there is so much more to the story than what we experience as readers, something we can only admire and be slightly in awe of.
That she is able to write such a gripping plot without getting bogged down in the history and yet writing in a narrative style of the time is inspiring. Pingback: The Booker Prize………. Do you think the astrological structure makes it a kind of oulipo? Hi Lisa, I found it modern, experimental and unique, novel even excuse the pun. I listened to much discussion about it including the author herself speaking about her approach and then the experience of reading the novel.
How does astrology work?
I am unlikely to gain that enlightenment as I rarely reread, but I am sure there will be those who will study and unravel the significance of it on the novel and its characters. It was interesting to read in an article by one of the judges the effect of each consequent reread and what it contributed to his understanding of the novel. It does intrigue me to know there are elements within it that are not apparent on a first reading.
I hope your year is off to a wonderful start. I was sent The Luminaries so searched to see if you have read it, and of course you have! I have a history of a gold strike in the family, so it is intriguing to be immersed in this era. Good to see you have also discovered Ex Libris, it was one of the books that I shipped from Australia having had to decide from or so, and part with some of my beloved friends. I have also been reading a few of your episodes, since I am now the mother of a French national, life has changed and it is very interesting to read about your journey.
Hi Vivienne and a Happy New Year to you too.
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An astrology element in my book hopefully functions in the same way — to be puzzled over rather than understood in a logical way. I studied star charts and learned about the zodiac. They were my bread and butter growing up. I wish I had more time to re-read books now, as you notice more things each time.
The Luminaries is pages long. It grew as it went on. Follow Metro. The Fix The daily lifestyle email from Metro. Young Walter Moody arrives in a small town in New Zealand in the middle of the gold rush of Although he wants to seek his fortune, he would really prefer to forget his past. He is the unhappy son of a fallen father. Everyone appears to have their own secrets, from the appallingly, bloodily criminal down to a rather petty debt burdening a bank clerk. It is also a shrewd tale that leaves no doubts about the frailty of human nature. Few of the characters are particularly likeable, although the unfortunate prostitute, Anna, suspected of attempted suicide on the day that a man is found dead, somehow manages to remain sympathetic, if only because she spends much of the novel in the clutches of the evil, impressively intelligent Lydia Wells, a nasty and calculating madam who exploits all who enter her sphere and also does a sideline in astrological charts.
Eleanor Catton on The Luminaries
One of the key set pieces in the book is the account of a seance in which she succeeds in attracting most of the central characters as she prepares to summon the soul of a wealthy missing man who may or may not be dead. What does it mean for you, Mr Moody, to know something? I fancy you put rather a lot of stock in knowing — judging from the way you speak. Wells is the ruling genius of the book. Young Mr Moody eventually shows he is no slouch in a courtroom scene that finalises the unstitching of the plot.
It is all very deliberate.
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The Luminaries is as carefully executed as a chemistry experiment. Catton is intent on the schema she has used, that of the position of the stars at a particular time according to the 12 houses of the zodiac. It no doubt gave her a great deal of fun, but as for the reading, and enjoyment, of the novel the astrological detail is of little consequence. The plot is worked out through a dozen gradually dwindling chapters, from a mighty page opening tour de force, longer than most contemporary novels, to a closing one consisting of a paragraph.
Central to the narrative are two substances: gold and opium. Anna spends much of the first part of the novel hopelessly addicted to it and the remainder recovering from it. Her need for it is piteously craven as she stumbles about, falling asleep for long periods, or at least sufficient to allow the gold to be unpicked from her gown.