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The Luminaries Paperback – October 7, 2014
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"Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress"
Is the world really falling apart? Is the ideal of progress obsolete? Cognitive scientist and public intellectual Steven Pinker urges us to step back from the gory headlines and prophecies of doom, and instead, follow the data: In seventy-five jaw-dropping graphs, Pinker shows that life, health, prosperity, safety, peace, knowledge, and happiness are on the rise. Learn more
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"The Luminaries is a true achievement. Catton has built a lively parody of a 19th-century novel, and in so doing created a novel for the 21st, something utterly new. The pages fly, the great weight of the book shifting quickly from right hand to left, a world opening and closing in front of us, the human soul revealed in all its conflicted desperation. I mean glory. And as for the length, surely a book this good could never be too long."―Bill Roorbach, New York Times Book Review
"Catton provides descriptions of her characters that are meticulous and precise...The result is a finely wrought fun house of a novel. Enjoy the ride."―Chris Bohjalian, Washington Post
"Irresistible, masterful, compelling...The Luminaries has a gripping plot that is cleverly unravelled to its satisfying conclusion, a narrative that from the first page asserts that it is firmly in control of where it is taking us...[Catton is] a mistress of plot and pacing..."―The Telegraph (5-star review)
"The type of novel that you will devour only to discover that you can't find anything of equal scope and excitement to read once you have finished...Do yourself a favour and read The Luminaries."―The Independent
"Note-perfect... [Catton's] authority and verve are so impressive that she can seemingly take us anywhere; each time, we trust her to lead us back ... A remarkable accomplishment."―Globe and Mail
"A very clever, absurdly fun novel that reads like a cross between a locked-room mystery, a spaghetti Western, a game of Sodoku, and Edwin Drood."―New York Magazine
"To say that The Luminaries is daringly ambitious in its reach and scope doesn't really do it justice."―The Wall Street Journal
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Catton's writing style is beautifully lush and vividly descriptive. Her descriptions of the myriad characters are wonderfully rendered both in the descriptions of their physical selves and of their inner selves. Catton also creates a unique and interesting setting of a New Zealand gold mining town in the mid-nineteenth century.
I'm posting this candidly honest review to help other readers ascertain if they are the type of reader who will enjoy this unique novel, or not.
The characters who scrabble for gold in the Antipodean mud—and those who prey on them—are often venal, sometimes self-sacrificing, or both. There’s a whore with a heart of dross, a naïve greenhorn willing to do anything for a handful of pure, a local Mr. Big with many small schemes, a name-changing bounder, an identity thief, some claim-jumpers, a shipping clerk, a couple of Chinese, a Frenchman and a Maori. There’s a trunk full of gowns full of gold. There’s a shipwreck, a shiptheft, opium here and opium there, a dramatic séance, and a trial of the century…and it’s all governed by astrological predetermination—which is upside-down because everything happens in the Southern Hemisphere.
“The Luminaries” won Britain’s premier literary prize for its prodigiously talented 28-year-old author. If you have a spare week, read it.