The Luminaries

The Luminaries

A Novel

Book - 2013
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The bestselling, Man Booker Prize-winning novel hailed as "a true achievement. Catton has built a lively parody of a 19th-century novel, and in so doing created a novel for the 21st, something utterly new. The pages fly."-New York Times Book Review

It is 1866, and Walter Moody has come to stake his claim in New Zealand's booming gold rush. On the stormy night of his arrival, he stumbles across a tense gathering of 12 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 cache of gold has been discovered in the home of a luckless drunk. Moody is soon drawn into a network of fates and fortunes that is as complex and exquisitely ornate as the night sky.

Richly evoking a mid-nineteenth-century world of shipping, banking, and gold rush boom and bust, The Luminaries is at once a fiendishly clever ghost story, a gripping page-turner, and a thrilling novelistic achievement. It richly confirms that Eleanor Catton is one of the brightest stars in the international literary firmament.
Publisher: New York : Little, Brown and Co./Hachette Book Group, 2013.
Edition: 1st U.S. ed.
ISBN: 9780316074315
Characteristics: 834 p. : ill. ; 25 cm.

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From Library Staff

A dense, genre-blending, doorstopper of a novel set in the 1880s New Zealand gold rush.


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scorpio_no_fire Nov 29, 2019

I adored the start of this book, and then felt I needed a list of characters (with portraits!) to help me keep up all the way through. But overall I loved reading this book, it held so many surprises.

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brangwinn
Mar 30, 2019

If you plan to read this book, you will nee to be committed to a book in which you almost need a visual to understand all the twists and turns. It moves back and forth, telling the story of a small gold-Ming town in New Zealand, completed with nefarious characters who look out for themselves first. There are honest people as well, but surrounded by skullduggery and deceit it is challenging for them A complicated book with a complicated ending.

l
Lotushead
Apr 08, 2018

This is a great fun story. It seems rather confusing at first but the story reveals itself as the Moon waxes, and astrological soulmates find each other.

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becker
Aug 25, 2017

I knew after the first few paragraphs that I was going to love this book. This is a big complex story that is incredibly well constructed. The characters are so well designed with each of them containing a unique voice and serving a specific purpose in the book. The ending was so clever right up to the last parargraph which was moving and beautiful. I listened to a portion of this book on audio and the narrator was amazing with the ability to switch back and forth between about half a dozen different accents in a dialogue. For me, it was the perfect book. I was very sad to finish it which says a lot about a 830 page book.

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EmilyEm
Jul 12, 2016

Walter Moody interrupts a meeting when he enters his hotel’s parlor on a stormy night in 1860s New Zealand’s Gold Rush town of Hokitika.

Very Dickens-like with multiple characters and character motives. No wonder the hype and awards. Reminded of David Mitchell’s and Kate Atkinson’s recent writing. Loved it.

TSCPL_ChrisB Jun 04, 2016

The Luminaries is a many-faceted and, in ways, complex book, but that doesn't mean the story is not enjoyable. For those willing to make the effort, it can be a wonderful read. Yes, it's saturated with cross-references to astrological charts, experimentation of form, and word play, all with the stylization of Victorian literature, but I wouldn't say the story is in any way bogged down by these elements. If anything, I'd say these elements are what lift this novel above other such tomes of historical mysteries.

p
paul_broomfields1
Jun 02, 2016

This really is an exquisitely written novel. Highly recommended for myriad reasons.

Do you love really long books? This is the one for you. It also happens to be a gorgeously written story full of complex characters set in the fascinating 1860's Gold Rush period in New Zealand. Read this delicious puzzle today. Recommended by Melissa

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bookwormjeph
Feb 09, 2016

A great read though I did find it lost some momentum in the middle of it's more than 800 pages. A rollicking story set in Hokitika in the height of the gold rush. A complex cast of characters and the inter-relationships between them all is written with humour, pithiness and at times sadness and disappointment. Beautifully written and well deserving of it's award to Eleanor Catton.

d
doneschu
Jan 03, 2016

90% of the book is wonderfully descriptive. It's written as people might have talked in the 1800's: lots of words and phrases not in general use today. The last few chapters are horrible. It's almost as though the author got tired of writing and just jotted down a few thoughts to get it over with. Very disappointing, poorly written ending.

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TSCPL_ChrisB Jun 06, 2016

Love cannot be reduced to a catalogue of reasons why, and a catalogue of reasons cannot be put together into love.

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