In which Jill discovers why exactly a plot-driven Dickensian novel won the 2013 Man Booker Prize.  Final thoughts on Eleanor Catton’s The Luminaries

luminaries cover


I finished The Luminaries last night.  I feel so accomplished.  I really enjoyed this book, every single page.  Even the weird ones at the end that I just told Bethany the book would have been better without.  The weirdness is not anything to do with plot, just with structure.  The plot is top-notch.  The plots and subplots are so intermingled and convoluted that I still need to reread the chapter about the trials of Anna Wetherell and Emery Staines so I can sort it all out.  As the last two hundred or so pages wind down, the storyline jumps back and forth from “present-day” to the year before, popping in and out of events that did not directly involve the twelve council members from the eight months leading up to the start of the book.  The “in which” blurbs that preface every chapter get longer and longer while the chapters become shorter and more fragmented.  This was a titch irritating.  I’m sure that this has something to do with the waning of the moon symbolism on the cover, but I have yet to find someplace on line to have all that explained to me.  So at worst, the last fifty pages or so annoyed me.  But those fifty pages didn’t keep me from enjoying the book, and I’m almost positive that they are a large part of the reason why The Luminaries won the Man Booker Prize.

I found the wrap up of the plot to be fairly reasonable.  Not all story lines are wrapped neat and tidy, but there is enough resolution to make me feel like my friend who hates books that don’t have a distinct beginning, middle, and end would like this one.  And while the structure of the book is annoying initially, the more I think about it the more it fascinates me.  Catton constructed a book that is different from anything I’ve ever read.  I would almost consider reading this book over again so I can try and figure out everything that she was up to.

Is The Luminaries for everyone?  No, of course not.  What book is?  (Actually, that’s an interesting thought.  Can anyone think of a book that “everyone” enjoys?)  But I think that anyone who is up for a long read with about a million layers of meaning and symbolism, would enjoy it a lot.

And now you can all get back to reading Bethany’s Diana Gabaldon posts.  I know that’s what you want to be doing.

This entry was posted in Eleanor Catton, Fiction - general, Fiction - Historical, Fiction - Important Award Winners, Fiction - literary, Fiction - Mystery, Reviews by Jill. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to In which Jill discovers why exactly a plot-driven Dickensian novel won the 2013 Man Booker Prize.  Final thoughts on Eleanor Catton’s The Luminaries

  1. Leah Peasley says:


    *goes to add it to her kindle wish/borrow list*


    • badkitty1016 says:

      Hahahahaha. I really hope you like it!!

      • Leah Peasley says:

        well I’m patron 5 of 5 on the waitlist for the ebook from the library system — but I’ll take that. I spend enough on impulse kindle purchases. an on sale $49 kindle has cost me like $200 since xmas. dur. 😛

  2. badkitty1016 says:

    I’m sort of glad my mom has stolen my Kindle and refuses to give it back. I’m happy to stay in the reading dark ages for now and keep buying real books. Someday I know I’ll need to embrace e-readers but I’m just not ready yet.

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