The Luminaries


Book Title: The Luminaries

Author: Eleanor Catton

Publisher: Granta

Publication Date: August 1st 2013

Genre(s): Mystery & Thrillers, Historical Fiction, General Fiction (Adult)

Pages: 832

Format Received: Hardback

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 bust, The Luminaries is a brilliantly constructed, fiendishly clever ghost story and a gripping page-turner.

My Review: It has taken me a month but I have finished this wild beast of a book (832 pages). All I can say is I am not at all surprised Eleanor Catton won The Man Booker Prize of 2013 … literary genius – wow!!!

At the very beginning the reader is introduced to a scene of twelve men gathered at the Crown Hotel in Hokitika, New Zealand in January 1866. A thirteenth man by the name of Walter Moody is shortly introduced. Intruding but also mild and innocent, the reader quickly finds out that Moody has come to Hokitika to find his fortune in gold. As the story moves on and unfolds, interweaving stories of all thirteen men bring about a mystery that the men – as well as the reader – are all trying to solve.

In a Victorian led story which has a slight resemblance to a Dickensian tale Catton presents a story of chance, betrayal and infidelity along with séances and opium, and amongst all of this an abundance of other things such as a politician, a prostitute, a ghostly presence, a missing man, a dead man and a good old fashion romance.

At the beginning of the book there is a cast list. I suggest if you’re to read the book to keep the cast list in mind as the first 200 pages or so is a character mind field. However, as the tale progresses, characters will embed themselves into your mind and absorb your every literal reading second to the point they’ll soon feel like a theatre of friends.

The Luminaries you will find, like me, will take you on a journey like you’ve never been on before.

About the Author: Eleanor Catton (born 1985) is a New Zealand author. Catton was born in Canada while her father, a New Zealand graduate, was completing a doctorate at the University of Western Ontario. She lived in Yorkshire until the age of 13, before her family settled in Canterbury, New Zealand. She studied English at the University of Canterbury, and completed a Master’s in Creative Writing at The Institute of Modern Letters, Victoria University of Wellington. She wrote her first novel, The Rehearsal, as her master’s thesis.Eleanor Catton holds an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where she also held an adjunct professorship, and an MA in fiction from the International Institute of Modern Letters at Victoria University of Wellington. Currently she teaches creative writing at the Manukau Institute of Technology.

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