Beachside with The Luminaries, by Eleanor Catton

January 17, 2014 at 11:36 pm Leave a comment

luminaries on the beach

Does it need to be so long?

Isn’t that the only question when it comes to an 832-page book?

Eleanor Catton’s novel, a mystery set in 19th century New Zealand during the gold rush, has been praised for its storytelling prowess and awarded The Man Booker Prize and the Governor General’s Literary Award, among other honours. 28 years old, author two successful novels, winner of mega literary prizes: sounds like the type of person you might love to hate. Until you hear her talk about her work. A couple of months ago I listened to Hal Wake’s interview with her and I was smitten by her intelligence and passion for writing, and also her clever use of astrological charts as a way to structure the book.

The Luminaries is a perfect title to reflect the celestial underpinning of the story, and to represent the cast of characters that light up the gold rush town of Hokitika. The tangling and untangling of more than a dozen lives and stories – chemist, whore, chaplain, hatter, hotelier, banker and so on – is what made the book for me. I like how they are all someone, how each character has a purpose in the story and a place in the town.

It’s inspiring to read a book as meticulously crafted as this one. I agree with the prize juries and critics that the structure Eleanor Catton employs is brilliantly executed and conceived. It’s a symphony, not a sonnet, though, so be prepared to settle in.

If you’re going to read this book, may I suggest a week at the beach? It fits in beautifully with all things aloha where I am right now.

waipio valley2

hawaii orchid

pink plumeria

sunset palms


Entry filed under: Reading, Writing. Tags: , , , .

Goodbye winter Help me eat these salted chocolate cupcakes…

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