The Luminaries, Eleanor Catton

“‘I have always considered,’ he said at last, ‘that there is a great deal of difference between keeping one’s own secret, and keeping a secret for another soul; so much so that I wish we had two words, that is, a word for a secret of one’s own making, and a word for a secret that one did not make, and perhaps did not wish for, but has chosen to keep, all the same. I feel the same about love; that there is a world of difference between the love that one gives–or wants to give–and the love that one desires, or receives.”

On January 27, 1866, twelve men meet to discuss a recent series of events: the disappearance of a wealthy man, the attempted suicide of a prostitute, the arrival of a ship, and the death of a hermit. They are interrupted by Walter Moody, who has landed in the town to seek riches in the New Zealand gold rush. As the men recount for him the events of the day, they all begin to realize how closely tied their fates and fortunes are.

I could try to explain more of the plot to you, but this novel is a landslide that only forces you further down its mountain. I confused a few co-workers today trying to explain what had occurred in the 600 pages since I’d last seen them, and I found myself sharing dozens of plot points. The best place to start this book is the beginning and to follow along through its pages. There is no other way to consume this book–don’t bother searching out more plot summaries; just read it.

The Luminaries is the most epic story I’ve read this year, and I’m very pleased that it caps off both my reading for Bookstravaganza and for the year. I was worried at first when I undertook this 832-page tome that I would need to fight with it as I did Tom Jones. But I turned the pages of this book faster than any other this month. Perhaps it was the stress of working with a two-day deadline, but this book kept me up until nearly two last night, and woke me up soon after five. I could think of nothing else at work today except for the fates of these luminaries–this book has consumed my soul with its starfire.

“there is no truth except truth in relation, and heavenly relation is composed of wheels in motion, tilting axes, turning dials; it is a clockwork orchestration that alters every minute, never repeating, never still.”

LuminariesBooks Read: 22 (Over-700-page monsters count as two :))

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4 responses to “The Luminaries, Eleanor Catton

    • Yes, do it, Laura! It’s a gorgeous book to own, especially with the star charts at the beginning of each section. Though my wrist is a little sore from holding it up…lol.

  1. I’ve been seeing so many mixed reviews of this book. Some love it, many stopped reading halfway through. I’m excited to read your +ve review as I am planning to read this sometime this year for my personal Man Booker reading challenge.

    • I didn’t check out many reviews because the book summary piqued my interest, so I knew I’d enjoy reading it. I’d recommend not leaving too much time between readings as there are a lot of characters and plot points to keep track of! (Also, the book will call you back to it.)

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