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The Luminaries

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Longlisted – Baileys Women’s Prize 2014Man Booker Prize Fiction 2013Canadian Governor General's Literary Award 2013It 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 o The curious case of the 3 star review I reviewed The Luminaries for We Love This Book a web magazine that is now defunct; 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 PassengersAnd 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 heartLest I seem unfair here are some 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 subseuent 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 earnedIf I had to list a few minor uibbles I’d mention that some of the 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 meetingsMy main problem however is with the opacity of the astrology angle The novel’s supposed uniueness 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 Further Catton’s commitment to portraying a full year’s astrological changes reuires looping back to revisit the events of 1865 6 for almost the full last uarter 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 techniue 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 goodIt’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 FourApart 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 restIn 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 uarter of the page count feels superfluous there’s something ever so slightly offI 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

Read ð PDF, DOC, TXT or eBook ↠ Eleanor Catton

F fates and fortunes that is as complex and exuisitely patterned as the night skyThe 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 firmamentEleanor Catton w 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 uiz to see if you are a potential reader of this most amazing tome1 Did you love The Alienist by Caleb Carr2 Did you adore Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel3 Do you like your mysteries intelligent complex and compelling4 Do you like stories with elements of the supernatural murder blackmail and intrigue5 Do you like your women wicked and your men wickeder6 Do you like writing that is formal elegant and with a systematic style that ties in brilliantly to both plot and character7 Are you fascinated by New Zealand or the chaotic wild westIf you answered yes to two or of these uestions then what are you waiting forgiddyup to your nearest bookstore or library and pick this up as it will take you many hours to finishOn a serious note this book is absolutely exuisite and perfect in every way Ms Catton at the age of 28 has written a novel that will stand the test of timeThis book reminded me of a complex mandalabroad at the outside and like a whirlpool draws you in uicker and uicker 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 nowMs Cattonthanks so darn muchI'm mighty obliged ma'am

Eleanor Catton ↠ 0 characters

As 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 Zealan Review #642 in which the reviewer tries to fathom why she chose to read this book about the gold rush given that she'd avoided reading it for seven years and recounts how in the process of reading it she stumbled on an unlikely book connection that was lying in plain sight when she looked in the right place reminding her that if her fortune depended on finding book connections she'd be richI finished reading several collections of Jorge Luis Borges's stories recently and also spent an intense period reading through Nathalie Sarraute's work and the accumulation of ideas and styles in those books made it difficult to choose a reading direction afterwards My reading compass is usually set to 'one book leads to another' mode but this time the needle was spinning wildly and I was lost My hand picked a few random books from various piles but my mind refused to engage with any of them In desperation I searched for the stash of unread books in the spare bedroom left there on purpose for visitors to take away with them because I know I will never want to read them myself This book shouldn't even have been there because I meant to offload it during the last house move given that it's so large it takes up the space of three books If I kept it it was because I realised from the signature hot chocolate marks that my youngest daughter had read it and I was unwilling to discard a little bit of her reading history having lost so much of my own in the past Was it those rusty chocolate marks on the pages or the phases of the moon on the cover that caused me to pick The Luminaries from the shelf I don't know but I did prise it out and started reading it and I didn't stop until I'd finished though it must have taken a complete lunar week The Luminaries is a story about a hoard of gold found stolen lost found stolen lost and finally found hidden in plain sight It's a long and slow story but several things kept me reading the detailed portraits of the secondary characters and the way the portraits of the two main ones by contrast are left in shadow for so long; the nineteenth century style with no anachronisms that I could detect; the vast knowledge about gold mining in New Zealand in the mid nineteenth century but which didn't weigh the story down; the way the inevitable violence was off stage leaving hardly a trace of blood on the pages; the way the chapters decreased in length corresponding to the phases of a waning moon the last chapter being a mere sliver; the way the chapter summaries increased in length as the chapters themselves decreased so that the final one is much greater than the chapter it summarizes few of the items in the summary were visible in the chapter itself reminding me of the parts of the moon that become invisible to us as it wanesThere were alas a few things I didn't care for the astrological charts for example but I consigned them to the other side of the moon the side we never see from earth—I figured the stars would know how to read themSpeaking of stars they are luminaries in that they are light giving bodies but I felt that the luminaries of the title were the waxing moon and the waning moon corresponding to the two main characters one bright but darkening the other dark but brightening Their unified story is also about a treasure lost and a treasure found a small and perfect love hidden within the larger story as small as a bright gold nugget another type of luminary hidden in a river bed Thinking about the full and new moons and about gold nuggets and about the amount of knowledge in the domains of geography history and astrology that underlie the larger story in this book I was reminded of the last book I read and I realised that there is a connection between The Luminaries and Borges's The Aleph unlikely as it might seem The Aleph according to Borges is an iridescent sphere of almost unbearable brightness A luminary in other words And Borges's luminary contains knowledge of all the history and geography of the world and even of the universe I love finding connections The Killing Ritual prestigious Iowa Writers' Workshop in the US and went on to hold a Pan's Travail: Environmental Problems of the Ancient Greeks and Romans 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 Zealan Review #642 in which the reviewer tries to fathom why she chose to read this book about the gold rush given that she'd avoided reading it for seven years and recounts how in the Portuguese-English Bilingual Visual Dictionary process of reading it she stumbled on an unlikely book connection that was lying in The Call of the Wild plain sight when she looked in the right Doctor Who: Witch Hunters: The History Collection place reminding her that if her fortune depended on finding book connections she'd be richI finished reading several collections of Jorge Luis Borges's stories recently and also spent an intense Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything period reading through Nathalie Sarraute's work and the accumulation of ideas and styles in those books made it difficult to choose a reading direction afterwards My reading compass is usually set to 'one book leads to another' mode but this time the needle was spinning wildly and I was lost My hand James Bond Encyclopedia picked a few random books from various Smoking with Crohn's piles but my mind refused to engage with any of them In desperation I searched for the stash of unread books in the spare bedroom left there on Everyone's Guide To Food Self Sufficiency purpose for visitors to take away with them because I know I will never want to read them myself This book shouldn't even have been there because I meant to offload it during the last house move given that it's so large it takes up the space of three books If I kept it it was because I realised from the signature hot chocolate marks that my youngest daughter had read it and I was unwilling to discard a little bit of her reading history having lost so much of my own in the Ninety Days past Was it those rusty chocolate marks on the Ninety Days pages or the Monteverdi's Tonal Language phases of the moon on the cover that caused me to A Guide for Murdered Children pick The Luminaries from the shelf I don't know but I did Hermit in Paris: Autobiographical Writings prise it out and started reading it and I didn't stop until I'd finished though it must have taken a complete lunar week The Luminaries is a story about a hoard of gold found stolen lost found stolen lost and finally found hidden in A Gallagher Wedding plain sight It's a long and slow story but several things kept me reading the detailed Lust Bites portraits of the secondary characters and the way the Olivia portraits of the two main ones by contrast are left in shadow for so long; the nineteenth century style with no anachronisms that I could detect; the vast knowledge about gold mining in New Zealand in the mid nineteenth century but which didn't weigh the story down; the way the inevitable violence was off stage leaving hardly a trace of blood on the Wanted pages; the way the chapters decreased in length corresponding to the Illuminate: Ignite Change Through Speeches, Stories, Ceremonies and Symbols phases of a waning moon the last chapter being a mere sliver; the way the chapter summaries increased in length as the chapters themselves decreased so that the final one is much greater than the chapter it summarizes few of the items in the summary were visible in the chapter itself reminding me of the Where the Red Fern Grows parts of the moon that become invisible to us as it wanesThere were alas a few things I didn't care for the astrological charts for example but I consigned them to the other side of the moon the side we never see from earth—I figured the stars would know how to read themSpeaking of stars they are luminaries in that they are light giving bodies but I felt that the luminaries of the title were the waxing moon and the waning moon corresponding to the two main characters one bright but darkening the other dark but brightening Their unified story is also about a treasure lost and a treasure found a small and Timeless Moon perfect love hidden within the larger story as small as a bright gold nugget another type of luminary hidden in a river bed Thinking about the full and new moons and about gold nuggets and about the amount of knowledge in the domains of geography history and astrology that underlie the larger story in this book I was reminded of the last book I read and I realised that there is a connection between The Luminaries and Borges's The Aleph unlikely as it might seem The Aleph according to Borges is an iridescent sphere of almost unbearable brightness A luminary in other words And Borges's luminary contains knowledge of all the history and geography of the world and even of the universe I love finding connections

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