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The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton
Winner of the 2013 Man Booker Prize and Canada's Governor General's Literary Award, a breathtaking feat of storytelling where everything is connected, but nothing is as it seems....

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 men 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 bus, 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.
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About the Book
Time Period
  • 19th Century
  • 1860's-1870's


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This book is a tome for sure - 900 odd pages It is 2013's Booker Prize and Governor General's Literary Prize winner. And well-deserved. The book is long, but it kept me going through page after page. Ms. Catton's characters are truly wonderful and she pens a wonderful multi-faceted villain in Francis Carver. The story is sent in the mid 19th century and is set in the gold fields of New Zealand. Because the book is long it gives Ms. Catton time to draw and outline some great characters, and we get to know the 12 or 14 key players very well. There is history, mystery and even a spiritual element in this book. I couldn't put the book down and the reading of it went very quickly. I loved the first 850 pages very much. It was the last 50 or so that disappointed me. The ending left things up in the air to my way of thinking. Some of the story threads weren't explained to my satisfaction at the end. That is why I gave the book 4 starts rather than 5. But I loved the book. I loved the setting - a 19 th century gold rush boom town on the west coast of New Zealand. I loved the premise - the search for the particularly odious Captain Carver by all 12 colourful people in that small town. Each has their own reason to find the man, and each isn't that willing to share the real reason why they want to find the captain. The book is a rich tapestry, woven with colourful language, unique people and a tremendously tricky plot. I'm glad I took the time to read it.
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