A quick apology: my reviews are probably going to be very short this semester. I’m ridiculously busy, so this is a place I am going to cut back a bit. You will still get a feel for what I think of the books I read, but I may just give you my bottom line. And there will probably be a bunch of Goodreads summaries. Oh, and no promises of excerpts on audiobooks–it’s just too complicated to do.
Ok, so that said, WOW was The Luminaries fun! Do not be scared off by the huge size and slow beginning on this one. I promise there is a chapter that will help immensely just as you start to feel completely lost. If you read it, rather than listen to it, you will get a bit of what I missed: a feel for the structure Catton has created, and a chance, if you want to, to look up the astrology references and get whatever they added, which flew over my head as I listened on my commute.
Below you will find the Goodreads summary and then my very short review.
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 bust, The Luminaries is a brilliantly constructed, fiendishly clever ghost story and a gripping page-turner. It is a thrilling achievement for someone still in her midtwenties, and will confirm for critics and readers that Eleanor Catton is one of the brightest stars in the international writing firmament.
Another hearty thank you to the Booker committee from me. This book had everything–fascinating characters, a complex puzzle of a plot, a creative structure, marvelous evocative language, a gold rush, astrology, a seance, possible murder, possible fraud, shipwrecks, opium dens, a mix of races and social classes. It is an intimidatingly large tome, and it takes awhile to get going, but once it does, you won’t want it to end (at least I sure didn’t).