2013 Booker longlist: The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton

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2013 Booker longlist: The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton

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Jul 23, 2013, 1:28 pm

This thread is for discussion of The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton.

Editado: Jul 27, 2013, 8:03 pm

I have just discovered this author is a New Zealander. I will seek this one out to read asap in that case.
eta: it seems the book is on order, and already has 32 holds for the one copy they are ordering. I might have missed the boat on this one!

Editado: Ago 19, 2013, 3:05 pm

Started reading this one 2 days ago. So far (17%) it's great storytelling, although a little confusing for me due to the number of characters and switching viewpoints. And I don't see yet what those astrological constellations have to do with the storyline.
It's gripping enough that the remaining 700(?) pages don't scare me anymore.

Edit 19.08 - spoiler warning.: Now 76% in. So far I LOVED this book, but now suddenly it takes a turn I absolutely don't want it to take. I was so happy with this wonderful old-fashioned adventure story set in a NZ gold-digger town in the 1860s, but now please don't turn it into a "spiritual romance", pleaseplease don't!!

Edit later: 3.8 (4) stars for now, maybe I'll upgrade a bit in a couple of days. Feeling sad. I had so hoped throughout the book that the story wouldn't suddenly go all post-modern on me, but sure it did. Or maybe post-modern isn't the correct expression.
This is an exceptional work, especially for such a young author, I enjoyed it a lot and I'd probably put it on the shortlist. But I - the egotistical and untalented literature-consuming reader - wish she had wanted and tried a little less on the last 200 pages.
But I'll go and read her other book soon.

Ago 25, 2013, 1:25 pm

I've just written my review of The Luminaries, which I've posted to the book's home page. I absolutely loved it, and right now it's my top choice to win this year's prize.

Out 10, 2013, 12:21 pm

Also just finished this novel, and also absolutely loved it. My review is posted to the book's home page, too. (And for those who are interested, I loved Catton's The Rehearsal just as much, and I have a review of this book posted on its home page as well.)

Out 10, 2013, 10:52 pm

I cant wait to finish this book (not in a bad way), I am so excited about what is happening, and that something big is about to happen.

I will be really pleased if it wins the Booker! And not just, although mainly, because I am a New Zealander ;)

Out 11, 2013, 2:35 pm

I loved this book - finished it a couple of days ago (my review's on my 75 thread or the main book page). I really really hope it wins.

Out 21, 2013, 8:20 pm

My Review:

When this book arrived in the post, I was so impressed by its presence. It is big, solid and beautiful to look at and hold. I was so excited to get started on it. Every time I was to pick it up to read after that first time, I was excited to get back to it.

In my experience, it isn't often that a long book can hold my attention throughout. But this one did. I think one of the main ways it did, was by having the many characters repeat their experience of events that other characters had already been through. This way we not only get a more thorough grasp of events, but we get each persons side of the story and therefore to know each character well by the end. All good stuff. And then there is the story itself. It unfolds so intricately! Details emerge here and there, and our picture is formed slowly but assuredly of what has transpired. We are tantalised by facts and clues, but not taunted by what they allude to. I have heard descriptions of Catton's writing being remarkably restrained, I think so too. It is simply a collection of words beautifully put together. 4.5 stars

Nov 21, 2013, 5:33 am

I have my copy, but am waiting for a less busy schedule to read it. Congratulations to Catton for winning.

Dez 9, 2013, 6:05 am

I loved this. Felt like I had discovered a long lost Victorian author. Deserved winner.

Editado: Fev 13, 2014, 8:11 am

I just finished it. I enjoyed it and was impressed with it, but I found it a bit confusing. I don't quite understand the point of the zodiac signs. What did Catton intend to add to the novel by having the zodiac signs be so integral to the form of the book? In my opinion, it made the book more convoluted than it needed to be. I thought the basic plot was confusing enough! On that note, I have a question that I'll use the new spoiler feature for.

I'm still confused about the gold found in Crosbie Wells's home. I thought it was the gold from Lydia's dresses (that she stole from Crosbie) that Ah Quee stole from Anna's dresses, pressed into blocks, and stamped with the Aurora's name. But I can't remember how the gold got into Crosbie's cabin. Was that explained? Will it still be given to Lydia since she was his wife? Also, is there a separate stash of gold that belonged to Staines? For a while, I thought Catton was insinuating that it was actually Staines's gold in the cabin, since he was the proprietor of the Aurora. I'm confused and I feel like the gold was central to the story!

Thanks for any insight!

Dez 10, 2013, 8:55 pm

Would this be a good one to hear rather than read? I think I want to tackle it at some point but haven't decided what format to buy.

Dez 10, 2013, 9:05 pm

I'd say this is one to read. There are astrological charts that I don't think could be read aloud. I also found myself flipping back to check things or reread passages.

On the other hand, the hardcover version is enormous, so not having to carry it around would be a plus!

Dez 10, 2013, 11:04 pm

Thank you, japaul22! While I like listening to books as well as reading them, audio just doesn't work for some as well. I think I'll get a print copy or e-book of this one.

Editado: Abr 16, 2014, 11:51 pm

First off, I congratulate Eleanor Catton on her success, a great achievement for a Kiwi writer.

Just finished it. Ingenious and interminable— everyone I talked with who had taken it up abandoned it midway.

I persevered and enjoyed it as a bit of trumped-up neo-Victorian storytelling, but didn't find it moving. There were solid insights and some good prose, but the many characters were picked up and dropped in such quick rotation that I was unable to identify with any of them, let alone to inhabit the tale in a pleasurable way.

Editado: Jun 25, 2014, 2:26 am

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Read my review of "The Luminaries" on my blog: http://antonymillen.wordpress.com/2014/01/08/review-the-luminaries/

Antony Millen is a Canadian author living and writing in New Zealand. His first novel is "Redeeming Brother Murrihy: The River to Hiruharama" - https://www.librarything.com/work/14027342

Jun 26, 2014, 1:00 pm

Finished this book in April '14. What impresses me most about this novel is its virtuosity from concept through execution. Plot is compelling, characters are fascinating and real, dialogue sounds authentic, historical detail is precise, atmosphere is pervasive, setting is vivid, and themes are well developed. The sweep of the novel exceeds “grand,” propelled as it is through its complex plot revolving around the mystery of the disappeared gold from the Aurora Mine.

It's masterful, period true, and as modern as anti-minimalist scriving can be. I love this book and am swept away by its unique imaginative force. Not since "Wolf Hall" have I read such powerful historical fiction; not since the Crawford of Lymond series by Dorothy Dunnett have I read such an enigmatic one.

This book is why I live to read great novels. Here is a great novel and a unique one.

As with all great books, there are plenty of things in it that escaped me or that I didn't understand -- the Zodiac framing being one, other than it must have symbolized or been connected (in a way unfathomable to me) to the protagonists who are all involved in the Aurora Mine gold. Hope someone will elucidate. You can msg me at my profile page, if you wish. Thanks!

Jun 26, 2014, 5:19 pm

>17 Limelite: I loved this book too and just love your comments about it. I'm also a fan of the Lymond Chronicles, currently reading The Ringed Castle so still haven't finished the series.
I can't elucidate on the zodiac framing, but will point you to the best commentary I've come across on the book, Julian Novitz's essay in the Sydney Review of Books - http://sydneyreviewofbooks.com/as-above-so-below/

Editado: Jun 27, 2014, 10:36 am

thanks for the link

When I finally discovered Dunnett's books, I rediscovered -- rather uncovered -- a new-found joy in reading. Her novels literally thrilled me. What complex characters, what intelligent imagination, what ability to totally transport the reader. I got those same sensations from reading Catton. And she's but a "baby"! I can't wait to see what she'll produce next.

Overwhelming talent in so many British women writers: Catton**, Dunnett, Byatt, Brookner, Rowling, Mantel, et. al. They put the men writers to shame. ** (EDIT) Excuse me, Catton is a Kiwi -- unforgivable!

Another great Dunnett series awaits you -- The House of Niccolo -- high Renaissance in the Low Countries, about the rise of the merchant class. And a stand alone novel about the "real" Macbeth, King Hereafter. So no withdrawal symptoms for you!

Fev 23, 2016, 6:00 pm

Hello. I just finished the book and had many questions and conflicting feelings about it. Thank you for suggesting the Novitz essay. Clarified a good deal.