So right up front I have to tell you this book, published in 2013 (and the 2013 Booker Prize winner) is a difficult read. It’s long and has a complicated plot, with multiple inscrutable characters. But Catton has a gift for story development and I am glad I stuck with it…despite a few moments where I wasn’t sure what was happening. Here is my book review The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton
New Zealand 1866
It’s a gold rush in New Zealand’s south island when we meet the novels protagonist Walter Moody. A prospector who has arrived in Hokitika to make his fortune. But Moody finds himself entangled immediately into a local murder mystery of one Crosbie Wells and a missing person of one Emery Stains. Moody discovers the 12 local men, all suspect – each with a claim to a fortune and a girl.
Wikipedia describes “The novel’s complex structure is based on the system of Western astrology, with each of the twelve local men representing one of the twelve signs of the zodiac, and with another set of characters representing planets in the solar system.” I found this part of the novel difficult to follow and frankly unnecessary.
Anna Wetherelle, innocently arrived and thrust into the prostitution profession and Lydia Wells “in the entertainment business” and one of the most despicable characters of the book, each play heavily into the mystery. Anna and Lydia are deeply associated with both the dead Wells and the missing Stains and linked to many of the other unsavory and upstanding local 12 men.
Written in a narrative that is not a straight line…the plot is unveiled through fantastically written story telling from the present moment and months throughout the past year. As the past and present merge so do the menagerie of characters, many out to kill each other all in the name of gold, revenge, opium, secrets, loyalty and love.
It’s a whodunnit it right up to the very end. Stick with it and I think you will be pleased. Thank you for reading my book review The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton.
****Four stars for The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton.
My current read Tom Lake by Anne Patchett
Did you see our Travel Wardrobe post? See it here My Travel Wardrobe – 8 months & 19 Countries
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