Review: The Luminaries – Eleanor Catton

I’ve just got back from a 2 week holiday – at least of week of which was dedicated to beach time. Because of this I decided a perfect holiday download on my Kindle would be Eleanor Catton’s weighty tome ‘The Luminaries’ (848 pages!)

I heard Catton read from the book at the 2013 shortlist readings the night before the winner was announced. Of the shortlist that year it hadn’t jumped out at me, but the opportunity to really get into a big book on holiday was too good to miss. Combine this with the fact a good friend (who was with me when I devised the idea for this whole challenge!) is currently living in New Zealand where the book is set, we decided a ‘global book club’ read was also well timed.

I really enjoyed this book, I got completely lost in it (perhaps because I was on holiday?). For a book which hadn’t appealed initially I was very pleasantly surprised.

Catton has an interesting style of writing, and there are summaries at the start of each chapter which give a clue without giving away how things will happen.

At the start of the book I felt quite daunted by the sheer number of key characters involved in the novel, but I think their involvement in the story is reiterated throughout and you’re reminded to what that person has done which makes it manageable. This might be part of the reason it’s so long but I think it works!

The book is effectively a mystery which starts in the present and works back slowly unpicking all the clues about what has happened. So you can start to piece it together in your head too and work out where the gaps are!

I’ve been trying to think about who my favourite character is and it changed a lot throughout the book as you find out little facts about people. For anyone that’s read it I think it might overall be Devlin, the priest, as even though him holding back the deed for weeks holds things up it also all unravels once he shares it other things start to happen!

“Moody’s first glimpse of the township was of a shifting smear that advanced and retreated as the mist blew back and forth”
“One of the great attributes of discretion is that it can mask ignorance of all the most common and lowly varieties”
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3 Responses to Review: The Luminaries – Eleanor Catton

  1. Kat says:

    I’ve always been curious about whether or not to buy this book. Now I think I will. 🙂

  2. Kiwi friend says:

    Captivating review! Quite shameful that I’m still mid-tome! Now time to plan the trip to Hokitika? X

  3. Wendy Tomlins says:

    HI Amy
    Thank you, I am really looking forward to reading this book that you have given me as a Christmas present! My dilemma is whether to wait to read it whilst we are in New Zealand or try and read it before! Good luck with the list…………love Mum x

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