Longlisted – Baileys Women’s Prize 2014
Man Booker Prize, Fiction, 2013
Canadian Governor General's Literary Award, 2013.
It is 1866 and Walter Moody has come to make his fortune upon the New Zealand goldfields. On arrival, he stumbles across a tense gathering of 12 local men, who have met in secret to discuss a series of unsolved crimes. A wealthy man has vanished, a whore 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 patterned as the night sky.
The Luminaries is an extraordinary piece of fiction. Written in pitch-perfect historical register, richly evoking a mid-19th-century world of shipping and banking and goldrush boom and bust, it is also a ghost story, and a gripping mystery. It is a thrilling achievement for someone still in her mid-20s, and will confirm for critics and listeners that Catton is one of the brightest stars in the international writing firmament.
Eleanor Catton was born in 1985 in Canada and raised in New Zealand. She completed an MA in Creative Writing at Victoria University in 2007 and won the Adam Prize in Creative Writing for The Rehearsal. She was the recipient of the 2008 Glenn Schaeffer Fellowship to study for a year at the prestigious Iowa Writers' Workshop in the US and went on to hold a position as Adjunct Professor of Creative Writing there, teaching Creative Writing and Popular Culture. Eleanor won a 2010 New Generation Award. She now lives in Wellington, New Zealand.
"The Luminaries is an impressive novel, captivating, intense and full of surprises." (Times Literary Supplement)
"The Luminaries is a breathtakingly ambitious 800-page mystery with a plot as complex and a cast as motley as any 19th-century doorstopper. That Catton's absorbing, hugely elaborate novel is at its heart so simple is a great part of its charm. Catton's playful and increasingly virtuosic denouement arrives at a conclusion that is as beautiful as it is triumphant." (Daily Mail)
"It is awesomely - even bewilderingly - intricate. There's an immaculate finish to Catton's prose, which is no mean feat in a novel that lives or dies by its handling of period dialogue. It's more than 800 pages long but the reward for your stamina is a double-dealing world of skullduggery traced in rare complexity. Those Booker judges will have wrists of steel if it makes the shortlist, as it fully deserves." (Evening Standard)
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- A reader
My new favorite novel
This beautiful novel combines all my favorite genres (literary and historical fiction, mystery, love story, ghost story) into an intricate and complex puzzle. The prose is elegant, mimics 19th century novelistic style perfectly, and sweeps in and out of character perspectives or omniscient narrator with playful exuberance. The character descriptions and the novel's analysis of their psyche, mannerisms, and how they are perceived by others in very different ways are simply breathtaking - the novel has a LOT of main characters and yet I feel as if I know each of them well - not all about them, but who they are in a particular moment of time.
The physical novel contains star charts at the beginning of each little section, which are also the seed out of which the story and its characters have emerged: the author started this by calculating the star charts for this small period of time in 19th century New Zealand, and then interpreted each constellation, planet and house into the people and locations of this novel, which culminates (non-chronologically) with the meeting of the sun and moon, personified as two characters. What happens in this small town is mirrored in the movement of constellations and planets above and vice versa. But you can enjoy the novel without paying much attention to this aspect.
While written in a gripping style similar to a thriller, it's not about finding out exactly how someone died, it's more about how we circle each other, touch each others lives in ways that have a myriad of cascading consequences, how we see ourselves and how others see us, if it is possible to know each other, the value of honesty, and so much more. I never felt the novel's length (over 800 pages) - in fact, I kept dreading its end, wanting it to be longer just so I could keep reading.
I read some parts and listened to others and enjoyed the narration overall. Some aspects of it are just brilliant, such as the Chinese and Maori accents which felt wonderfully authentic. The English, Irish and Scottish accents sounded fine to me, but I'm German myself so I'm not a good judge of that. My one point of criticism is how the narrator chose to portray Lydia Wells: as an over-the-top, villainous caricature who would never convince, seduce or manipulate anyone with that obvious villain voice. Moreover, it cheapens and reduces the subtle, ambiguous characterization of the novel to something lesser. Why lay it on so thick in the audiobook narration? There was no need.
Overall, if you enjoy historical novels of great complexity, subtlety, adventure, philosophy and literary merit (this has won the Man Booker prize), then I highly recommend picking it up. Some people believe it has plot holes, but I haven't found any: if you pay close attention, keep in mind that people lie or conceal details, and realize that the explanation for some of the occurrences is a slightly supernatural one, it all fits together like clockwork in the end. And if that sounds very dry and mathematical: not at all, the book is actually very moving in so many scenes. But if you're just looking for a simple whodunnit and dislike complicated plots, then you won't like it: the mysteries are like a magician's clever, dazzling distraction while she's actually doing something else.
I really loved this novel and was wowed by its brilliance and masterful execution.
2 Leute fanden das hilfreich
- Alistair Hill
Excellent rendition of a lumination
Was hat Ihnen am allerbesten an The Luminaries gefallen?
The story itself was worthy of the Booker. Mark Meadows reading is absolutely wonderfull. This is how literature comes alive.
4 Leute fanden das hilfreich