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cook*create*read: Review (ish!): The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Review (ish!): The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton

The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton

Publisher: Granta (2013)

First Published: 2013

Winner: Man Booker Prize 2013

From Goodreads:
It is 1866, and young Walter Moody has come to make his fortune upon the New Zealand goldfields. On the stormy night of his arrival, he stumbles across a tense gathering of twelve 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 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 ornate as the night sky.

Richly evoking a mid-nineteenth-century world of shipping, banking, and gold rush boom and bus, The Luminaries is a brilliantly constructed, fiendishly clever ghost story and a gripping page-turner.

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I received this book for Christmas, in that bundle from The Book People that I've spoken about before.  As it won the Man Booker Prize in 2013, and it was sitting on my shelf, I felt obliged to read it so decided to take the plunge during my 6 week summer holiday, when I knew I would have the time needed to tackle this tome!

I really enjoyed the setting of the story.  The town described in the novel sounded bleak, grim and depressing and the backdrop of the gold mines was very interesting to me.  Unfortunately this was only a small part of the book, and I would have liked to read more about this aspect (I will be looking out for other books about this era).  

The characters were numerous and many were quite similar so it was a little tricky to differentiate between them and follow who was who throughout the meandering tale.  The plot is very convoluted and confusing and really slow paced - Part 1 seemed to drag on interminably, but I was looking forward to subsequent parts as I believed that the pace would pick up a little.  Sadly this was not really the case, and the whole thing was just a drag.  Additionally, the whole astronomy angle that I'd heard much talk of was completely lost on me!  I nearly gave up several times, but willed myself to carry on.

The writing is, of course, beautiful, and I can completely understand why Eleanor Catton won the Man Booker Prize with this novel.  It reads like a classic and will undoubtedly be viewed as one in years to come.  Unfortunately I just did not connect with the characters or plot line in the story, resulting in a bored 2 star rating.  I do have Ms Catton's other novel, The Rehearsal, on my self, which is of a much friendlier size, so I will definitely give that a go at some point.

Great writing, just not for me!



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