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The Luminaries (2013)

de Eleanor Catton

MembresRessenyesPopularitatValoració mitjanaConverses / Mencions
3,9912262,258 (3.77)1 / 659
It is 1866, and Walter Moody has come to make his fortune upon the West Coast goldfields. On the night of his arrival, he stumbles across a tense gathering of twelve local men, who have met in secret to discuss a series of unsolved crimes. A wealthy man has vanished, a whore has tried to end her life, and an enormous sum of money 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 patterned as the night sky.… (més)
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Anglès (217)  Neerlandès (6)  Alemany (1)  Francès (1)  Totes les llengües (225)
Es mostren 1-5 de 225 (següent | mostra-les totes)
The Luminaries is... delectable! Fumbling for the right word, I find myself thinking of what Lydia Wells would say, one of the characters so memorably brought to life in this staggering novel.

You may not like this book. If you don't have a yen for 800 page doorstoppers, elaborate 19th century structures and language styles, and dense thickets of plot, look elsewhere. (I'm not usually a fan of the latter, but if it comes packaged in the former, that rather changes my opinion.) If, however, you enjoy the heady combination of heightened language, courtroom (and behind-the-courtroom) drama, and historical fiction with a wry 21st century undercoat, this is for you. The Luminaries is also the beneficiary of a (pardon the pun) stellar audiobook narrated by Mark Meadows, who handles each of Catton's twenty-plus characters with panache. I rarely recommend the audio over the literary experience, but I think in this case, with the heavy emphasis on dialogue and narrative tone-of-voice, Meadows' performance amplifies and augments everything great in Catton's writing.

Exquisite. ( )
  therebelprince | Jun 24, 2021 |
Slogged through the first hundred pages, mourning the author of The Rehearsal, cringing at the Melvillian affectations of the prose, then settled into its plotty groove throughout the first half, and today ripped through the last four hundred pages in one sitting. Takes a while to see what Catton's getting at, and not just because she's written a fiendishly complicated mystery with twelve main characters. I don't blame anybody who's turned off by these men, with their overlapping astrological traits and barely distinguished moustaches. I liked a couple of them. Creature of structure that she is, Catton delays revealing until her disintegrating denouement that none of the twelve are ultimately significant. She's actually written what amounts to the 21st century's unwieldiest love letter, as I see it, having been involved with her fiancee Steven Toussaint throughout the process of writing this novel. Don't get me wrong, it's a very good mystery, with atmosphere piped in from Melville and Collins all the way down to Altman's McCabe & Mrs. Miller, but the final chapters reveal the whole plot to be a great rickety celestial system for Catton's star-bound lovers to hang brightly within. She doesn't spend much time building up the romance. She seems to believe that the stars she's charted will illuminate it for us, and I'm inclined to agree. ( )
  brendanowicz | May 9, 2021 |
Count me among the apparent few that did not fall in love with this book. I heard it in audio and I suspect that it did play a part in my overall disconnect to this book: too many characters, too many convoluted stories… I do give to Catton that she manages to tie them together at the end – quite an accomplishment really when about 20 characters all have some form of connection to the main plot.

As other readers already mentioned, Catton does manage to create a very strong sense of place and time, but she fails to convince me – the reader – that her story is more than just a convoluted tale. I really wish some editor had come around and cut about 200 pages (8 hours) of the fillers. It probably will make a good movie someday…
( )
  RosanaDR | Apr 15, 2021 |
In 1866, a diverse and international cast of characters converges on Hokitika, a New Zealand gold-mining port-town. The protagonists grapple with a number of mysterious goings-on in the town - the disappearance of a young businessman, the sudden and suspicious death of a drunk in whose home a hidden fortune is discovered, an attempted suicide by a locally well-known prostitute who vigorously denies having tried to take her life. It soon becomes evident that the search for the truth will not be easy...

The Luminaries was the 2013 Booker Prize winner and it is not difficult to see why. A sprawling, 800 page novel, it is kept together by a meticulously crafted structure inspired by astrology (which, incidentally, plays quite a central role in the plot). Characters are analysed with great psychological insight; settings and interiors are described in a poetic prose which could well serve as textbook extracts for creative writing classes. Underlying the novel are suitably profound queries - to what extent are we masters of our fate? What are the elements which govern human behaviour? For lovers of 19th century novels there are then knowing "inside" references to the genres which dominated Romantic narrative fiction - the sensation novel, the revenge/adventure yarn, the crime/mystery story, seafaring tale, the ghost story.

Yet, despite its brilliance, The Luminaries somehow doesn't add up to the sum of its parts. As a crime novel it is simply too long, so much so that the characters helpfully recapitulate the salient elements of the plot every couple of chapters. As a supernatural tale it is unconvincing. It is definitely worth reading but, for me at least, it was no page-turner and not what I would call a "ghost story". ( )
  JosephCamilleri | Mar 5, 2021 |
How can one criticize a Man Booker Prize winner? The Luminaries is carefully structured. The writing is perfect, but then...oh dear. The story is set during a gold rush in 1860s New Zealand. In 800 plus pages it unwinds a mystery regarding theft, fraud, perjury, mysticism, and a drug addicted prostitute adored by many. This is all told by an omniscient narrator from the point of view of twelve men. The elements of the mystery are convoluted. The POV can change multiple times in the same scene and there are flashbacks. The reader must be exceptionally carefully to keep up with what’s going on. I didn’t really find it worth the effort. It has been made into a mini-series. Catton worked on the screenplay which is very different from the book. I only made it through a half hour of the show. Disappointing. ( )
  varielle | Mar 2, 2021 |
Es mostren 1-5 de 225 (següent | mostra-les totes)
It is complex in its design, yet accessible in its narrative and prose. Its plot is engrossing in own right, but an awareness of the structure working behind it deepens one’s pleasure and absorption. As a satisfying murder mystery, it wears its colours proudly, yet it is not afraid to subvert and critique the traditions and conventions of its genre. Best of all, while maintaining a wry self-awareness about its borrowings and constructions, it is never a cynical novel. At times, it can be unapologetically romantic, in both its narrative content and its attitude towards the literary tradition it emulates. It is a novel that can be appreciated on many different levels, but which builds into a consistent and harmonious whole.
 
Is Ms. Catton’s immense period piece, set in New Zealand, for readers who want to think about what they should be thinking? The book’s astrology-based structure does not exactly clarify anything. Its Piscean quality, she writes in an opening note, “affirms our faith in the vast and knowing influence of the infinite sky.”
afegit per ozzer | editaNew York Times, Janet Maslin (Oct 23, 2013)
 
It’s easy to toss around words like “potential” and “promising” when a young author forges the kind of impression made by Eleanor Catton with her 2009 debut, The Rehearsal, a formally tricky but assured novel that hinged on teacher-student sexual relations. It won the Amazon.ca First Novel Award and the Betty Trask Award, and was a finalist for a handful of other plaudits, including the prestigious Dylan Thomas Prize for the best work by a writer under the age of 30. Making good on those expectations is another matter. With her ambitious second novel, Catton has accomplished that – and a great deal more.
[...]
The Luminaries is a novel that can be enjoyed for its engrossing entirety, as well as for the literary gems bestowed on virtually every page.
afegit per monnibo | editaQuill & Quire, Vit Wagner (Oct 1, 2013)
 
The Luminaries has been perfectly constructed as the consummate literary page-turner.

But it is also a massive shaggy dog story; a great empty bag; an enormous, wicked, gleeful cheat. For nothing in this enormous book, with its exotic and varied cast of characters whose lives all affect each other and whose fates are intricately entwined, amounts to anything like the moral and emotional weight one would expect of it. That's the point, in the end, I think, of The Luminaries. It's not about story at all. It's about what happens to us when we read novels – what we think we want from them – and from novels of this size, in particular. Is it worthwhile to spend so much time with a story that in the end isn't invested in its characters? Or is thinking about why we should care about them in the first place the really interesting thing? Making us consider so carefully whether we want a story with emotion and heart or an intellectual idea about the novel in the disguise of historical fiction … There lies the real triumph of Catton's remarkable book.
afegit per Polaris- | editaThe Guardian, Kirsty Gunn (Sep 11, 2013)
 
The narrative structure intrigues, moving Rashomon-like between viewpoints and the bounds of each character’s separate sphere of knowledge, without ever losing the reader, various characters playing detective then stepping aside. The novel has many attributes – excellent dialogue, humour, great observation, as when two acquaintances at a party share the same expression:......Catton matches her telling to her 19th-century setting, indulging us with straightforward character appraisals, moral estimations of each character along with old-fashioned rundowns of their physical attributes, a gripping plot that is cleverly unravelled to its satisfying conclusion, a narrative that from the first page asserts that it is firmly in control of where it is taking us. Like the 19th-century novels it emulates, The Luminaries plays on Fortune’s double meaning – men chasing riches, and the grand intertwining of destinies.
 

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It is 1866, and Walter Moody has come to make his fortune upon the West Coast goldfields. On the night of his arrival, he stumbles across a tense gathering of twelve local men, who have met in secret to discuss a series of unsolved crimes. A wealthy man has vanished, a whore has tried to end her life, and an enormous sum of money 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 patterned as the night sky.

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