I’ve finished reading The Luminaries and let me tell you, Eleanor Catton deserves her Booker. I feel I deserve a major prize just for reading the book.
I approached this title in entirely the wrong way. I picked it up while still reading several other books. And going back and forth between The Luminaries and other stories is NOT a good option. The book opens with a meeting of twelve (TWELVE!) major characters who are trying to sort out a mystery. And those twelve don’t include the major suspects. Every time I picked up my Kindle, I was confused.
And there’s my second mistake: the Kindle. It would have been much more helpful to flip easily back and forth through the pages when I forgot something.
Fortunately, things improved when I focussed solely on The Luminaries, and I was soon fully absorbed and flipping my virtual pages as quickly as possible.
I loved the structure of the book. I loved the astrology, and how it finally began to play a role just when I thought it was a strange conceit. I loved the ambiguous women of the book. I loved the gold rush setting. And I loved how the beginnings of the story came last, when I’d decided that the mystery was beyond me, and I’d never figure out the intricacies. Oh, and I loved the observer/lawyer Walter Moody and the way he (and everyone else) had a backstory that led him inexorably to his place in the mystery.
I’d highly recommend the book, if you haven’t read it yet. But make sure you have some time on your hands. And maybe a stack of Archie comics to clear your brain afterwards.