A story has more than two sides – “The Luminaries” by Eleanor Catton

May 8, 2014 at 7:42 pm 6 comments

73.Eleanor Catton-The Luminaries“The Luminaries” by Eleanor Catton, Published in 2013. 

I really grew to love this book. It is another long one, over 800 pages, but it uses the space wisely and there is not a piece of it I would have edited out.

In the mid-1800s there was a gold rush in New Zealand.  When Walter Moody arrives in mining town of Hokitika, New Zealand in 1866 he is running from his family, for good reason, and seeking his fortune.  He wanders into one of the towns few pubs where twelve men are assembled.  When he enters they all grow silent and pretend to be otherwise occupied.  However, eventually the men seek Moody’s impartial counsel.  There have been some strange happenings in this questionably sleepy town. A hermit has died and a fortune has been found in his home. The same day a prostitute has tried to kill herself and the richest man in town has disappeared. Each man who has gathered has a piece of the story and they are trying to get to the truth of what has happened.  Each man is somehow involved in what has occurred and of course perspective is a tough editor of truth.  What the banker knows is one thing, but his assumptions are something entirely different. The same goes for the theater owner and town pimp, the minister, and so on.  And solving this mystery is a bit more complicated than the usual who-done-it.

The writing here is impeccable. Catton is a master who sets the stage for her characters beautifully:

“Dusk was falling, bringing with it a rapid drop in temperature, and turning the standing water at the roadside from brown to glossy blue. There was little traffic save for the infrequent cart or long rider making for the warmth and light of the town ahead…one could hear the roar of the ocean already; a dull, pitchless sound, and above the infrequent cry of a sea bird, the call floating thin and weightless above the sound of rain.” 

This is a suspense novel written, as far as I can tell, as a tribute to Wilkie Collins – its technique reminded me of “The Moonstone” and that is a brilliant thing.  The story jumps around and there is a lot of fate and destinies crossing.   And piecing everyone’s story together is a great reminder that the path our lives take involves many stories and many perspectives to get the whole picture.


Other reviews to check out: 



Entry filed under: May 2014 reads. Tags: , , , , .

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6 Comments Add your own

  • 1. themisanthropologist  |  May 8, 2014 at 9:28 pm

    I really liked this book…one of the best reads I had in a long while. It left me with more questions than answers though. Still, I enjoyed reading it.

    • 2. Emily C  |  May 8, 2014 at 10:28 pm

      I agree, I am still confused on some points but the book was so good that didn’t bother me.

      • 3. themisanthropologist  |  May 8, 2014 at 10:34 pm

        I know! After I read it, I tried to go back and think about the ending and what really happened to Anna and Emery Staines…..I still have no idea what that was about! LOL! But wow, it’s just a wonderful read that it doesn’t really matter!

      • 4. Emily C  |  May 9, 2014 at 5:43 am

        I am so glad that confused you too!

  • 5. FictionFan  |  May 9, 2014 at 11:52 am

    Looks like we felt much the same way about this book. It’s one I can imagine re-reading and getting more out of the second time…

    Thanks for the link! 🙂

    • 6. Emily C  |  May 18, 2014 at 7:45 pm

      I always hope to return to books like this a second time. But of course that stack of books I need to read just keeps getting bigger and bigger. Oh well.


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There is some great literature out there, but there is a lot of bad literature as well. We shouldn't all have to read it. These are my recommendations and thoughts about the books I read.


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