Thursday, 9 July 2015

Boop's Bookshelf: The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton



The Luminaries check off 'A book by someone under 30' in my 2015 reading challenge.


The Author

Eleanor Catton is a Canadian-born New Zealand author. Her second novel The Luminaries won the Man Booker Prize in 2013, crowning her the youngest person to have won the award. Other than The Luminaries, Catton has also released the novel The Rehearsal, and some short stories published in various works.

The Synopsis

The Luminaries is essentially a mystery novel. Set in 1866 at the goldmines in Hokitika. We enter into the story with Walter Moody, who is new to the town and the strange affairs that have been occurring. He happens across a secret meeting of 12 men, and is pulled into piecing together events as each man recants his tale. What follows is an erratic story told from several different points of view, giving an overview of the crimes that transpired and who is actually responsible for them. The crimes in question, all revolve around the disappearance of a young, rich gold digger, a prostitutes multiple collapses, and the murder of a poor man. Everything points towards a ship's captain, or at least seems to.

My Thoughts

I really liked how the reader is brought into the story with another character. It's a good technique used to pull the reader in, and it worked with this novel - without this it would have been extremely difficult to get involved with the story. As each man in the meeting tells his tale, we see several different events that transpire around the same period of time. however, this was not in chronological order. there was a lot of back-and-forward and filling in gaps other character's stories had left. I found it difficult to keep track of this at first, but after spending a lot of time reading - I recommend dedicating an hour or more to it when you first start! - I finally got an overview of how each character's story fits into this mystery up to the moment we entered the story. And there was still a huge amount of the story left to go...

The zodiac signs and other heavenly bodies play a large part in this tale. Each main character represents a zodiac sign, and other essential characters represent the heavenly bodies. each section in the book (there are 12) start off with an image showing what stage all of the zodiacs are in. This probably had relevance to what happened to the characters in the story, but I didn't read too much into that and read the story instead. This novel had in interesting little quirk - each section was half as long as the preceding one. The beginning felt like a mammoth to read, then the further along I got the quicker I flew through the story - some of the chapters were only a few lines at the end!

I found this novel hard to read at the beginning, then the more I read, the more I enjoyed it, and the mystery of the story. My only main niggle with it is the unaddressed question of how two of the characters were inexplicably linked in the way that they were. I wont go into more detail - as it would give away some of the story - but it felt unresolved because there wasn't a satisfactory explanation.

My Rating...

3.5 stars

Not something I am likely to reread, but enjoyable and interesting regardless.