Review | The Luminaries – Eleanor Catton


Paperback (Granta, 848 pages)

First published 2013; this edition published 2014

Rating on Goodreads: 2 stars

“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 met 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.”


How this won the Man Booker Prize is beyond me.

Overly complex, overly populated with characters, and written in a faux-Dickensian style, this novel is a bit of a disaster. It is far too slow, and nothing really seems to have save flashbacks given while a character smokes a cigar or drinks alcohol. Even the flashbacks are unexciting. I was expecting more of Moody in the beginning, but then he is abandoned for a completely uninspired, pompous figure called Balfour.

I have to admit, I skim-read a few bits. It was just so dull, and far, far too big. It could have been far more short, and then perhaps it would have been enjoyable. The Dickensian style grates. It tries to be clever, and just ends up looking foolish.

Do not recommend. Stick to an actual Dickens novel, not this absurdity.


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