Saturday, 17 January 2015

The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton

I think I picked the wrong time of year to read this novel. It's a chunky book with lots of characters and a plot the reader has to concentrate on. I started it in Christmas week when my brain was all over the place and I don't feel that I ever really got to grips with the story.

I would like to give it another go, at a time when I can concentrate on it more, because I think I would really love it. It's just the kind of story I enjoy. It's set in New Zealand in the 19th century during the gold rush there. I didn't even realise that there had been a gold rush in New Zealand, so basically all the history was new to me.

Walter Moody is newly arrived from England, with the intention of making his fortune on the goldfields. Exhausted and traumatised after his harrowing voyage he enters the smoking room of his hotel to relax and calm himself. There are other men in the room, all seemingly engrossed in their own pursuits, but Walter comes to realise that they all know each other and he has inadvertently interrupted a secret meeting.

They confide in him that they have come together to discuss the disappearance of a wealthy prospector and the attempted suicide of one of the town's prostitutes. There is also the puzzling matter of the fortune which has been found in the home of a man they all believed to be a drunk and a loser.

Each of the twelve men knows part of the story, and the book pulls their tales together. Some stories shed light on events and others cast shadows. It's not until all the stories are told that the solution emerges. I should've read it with a paper and pen beside me so that I could keep everyone straight in my head.

I know that this book has been very popular, and I'd love to know what others opinions are. Am I right in thinking it's worth another read?

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