Catton luminaries astrology

As a consequence, we perceive the entire cast at a slight distance and may yearn for something more from some of them. It is possible to listen to Eleanor Catton speak more on this at the Southbank reading here and in numerous articles in The Guardian and elsewhere.

Perhaps we might get to meet them in a future TV adaptation, since I hear the rights have already been bought by a British production company. Like Like.

Excellent review. What it does do though is prevent the reader from getting particularly attached to any of the characters. Great review Claire which fulfils the expectations of a potential reader desiring to know a little something about a novel which appears somewhat intimidating, not least because of its structural format.

I love how you concentrated on a reading of the characters, instead of the underlying symbolism, and am especially intrigued at the comparison you make between this novel and one of my favourite authors, Dostoyevsky. I agree the length is intimidating in these time-pressed times we live in, but for all the layers and structural complexity, it is a relatively easy read with plenty of action and dramatic turns. I think there will be a few reading this over the winter holidays, or the summer hols downunder in NZ.

Sounds like a good idea, this book really needs either a summer holiday or a cosy Christmas period of quiet so you can read it in one go, I actually woke early so I could read in one week knowing it would otherwise take me too long if I only read at night. But for the reader, it is a straight forward enough read, nothing near as challenging as the effort required to create this opus. Good review Claire. Getting a copy soon. Only discordant note for me is the Astrology- what on earth Is a serious writer getting involved in that stuff for?.

Regards Brian. Fascinated to to read your analysis of this book, Claire. I started it two days ago, and finished it in bed last night at 2am… I really resonated with your statement that one never got close to any of the characters, which seemed to matter to me…I found the meeting of the twelve at the beginning absolutely gripping….

But I did! I also seriously wondered if there was a hat shop for Anna and Lydia to visit in a mining town with few women and mostly whores, as Eleanor would say!!! At the end, I felt that I wanted this amazing writer to find a subject really worthy of her genius.

Eleanor Catton interview: Money doesn’t transform you – only love can

I was awed by the immensity of the project and the research and really look forward to seeing what she does next. Wow, you read it in two days! Well done, I can understand wanting to crack through it, we are all out of practice it seems in reading lengthy books, few people write them anymore. I think the omniscient narrator is one of the the causes for the distance, that and not deciding to take one character as the lead. It highlights one of the things we have come to expect from the novel, something I allude to in the first paragraph.

by Eleanor Catton

It is also the actions, events and dialogue that really make a character three dimensional, not the psychological descriptions, so those whom we actually observe doing things rather than being talked about come more easily to mind. I found myself thinking about these characters to see what I remembered and it was always an encounter or a physical act I recalled. Good luck to any who decide to pursue it and thank you to Eleanor Catton for explaining her structural tools a little in various interviews.

I did reread the last few pages when much of the explanation was in the introductory passages in such tiny writing!! The Hokitika wikipedia site mentions there being quite a few women living there, wives of the diggers among others, something I did wonder at, the lack of the balancing factor, it would have been good to see a formidable female presence, another luminary. Very deep and thoughtful review Claire. I heard it was a big and chunky book. One day perhaps.


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I think I should read more authors from NZ. And of course to have a New Zealand writer given such prominence and acknowledgement is wonderful. Yes it is nice to see an author from NZ given such recognition. Good to know I am not alone on the Man Booker Winners selection and yes I am more likely to find something I like from the Long and shortlists! I enjoyed reading this insightful review. I relish books that delve into the psychology of the characters and this one seems to do that well. But there are many layers here that make it very appealing.

If you enjoy the psychology of characters, you will definitely relish this. In a way, it is a pity it is so long, because many of those passages bear rereading, which I did while I was on the page, but not so easy to come back too, given the monumental scale of this project. Sometimes we just have to let go and enjoy the read.

Pingback: Luminaries links Follow the Thread. Eventually I may return to this book.


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Though your review is very lovely written and makes me maybe want to reconsider. I do hope you find the right time to pick it up again, sometimes it is just the timing, I usually save a big book like this for a holiday read, so put an extra effort into reading this during a busy period so as not to take weeks to read it.

It is at least a well paced read. Beautiful review, Claire! I love the structure of the book — how each chapter is half the length of the previous chapter.

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Glad to know that inspite of its size, the book is not difficult to read. I have ordered it and I am hoping to read it soon. Thanks for this wonderful review. There are two major scenes in The Luminaries where this happens: when Moody sums up the accounts of the men in the Crown Hotel, and a later courtroom scene. Both of these sequences end with someone rushing in to announce an unexpected development. A classic fictional edifice is undermined with one of its own tools.

These affect the world physically, silting up the Hokitika River; and Catton never allows us to forget that this is land which once belonged to the Maori. This gives The Luminaries the shape of a golden spiral. It also acts like a spiral — or, to keep up the celestial theme, a black hole, stripping out information as it goes. Here, the novel begins to embody the tension between the open future and rueful hindsight, the sense of predestination and the sense of free will.

Without these, each chapter would be a floating fragment of time with no context; the only reason we can place them is that we know what has come afterwards.

The Luminaries: A D―ned Fine Tale, but of What?

So the novel spirals down to a singularity, a moment poised between the infinite possibility ahead for those experiencing it, and the inevitable tragedy that we know will unfold. What may seem foreordained after the event is, we see, nothing of the sort in the present moment. I finished The Luminaries grinning from ear to ear at the experience of having read a novel so completely and idiosyncratically realised. Categories: Catton Eleanor , English , Fiction. Tags: book review , books , crime fiction , Eleanor Catton , fiction , Granta , historical fiction , Reviews , The Luminaries.

Such a fantastically written review! Thanks for introducing her — I just looked up The Rehearsal and it sounds interesting too. Farah: Thanks for the kind words! I hope to see it on the shortlist: it deserves a place.

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Thank you for your brilliant review. Now enjoyed your review, David. After reading abt 30 reviews, I am still left wanting for an understanding of whose gold was whose. Am I being shallow?