Given the freshness of the sales, the identity of the buying broadcaster partners remains to be revealed soon. The series, which steers a different narrative course, kicks off with two of the biggest audience lures of contemporary TV: Crime mystery and romantic melodrama. Adventurer Anna Wetherall Hewson , who has sailed from Britain to New Zealand to begin a new life, stumbles drugged along a stormy coast in near pitch-black night, towards a cabin, as a man in shot and Anna then collapses. Cut to several months earlier and Anna, on the boat, meets Emery Staines Patel , a dapper, if poor, fortune seeker. But twists of fate throw Anna into the maws of manipulative madame Lydia Wells Green who deceives, swindles and drugs her, setting her up as a prostitute. Anna ends up charged of murder, and Emery nowhere to be seen.

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Start your review of The Luminaries Write a review Shelves: victorian-pastiche , historical-fiction , door-stoppers , reviewed-we-love-this-book , booker-winners The curious case of the 3-star review I reviewed The Luminaries for We Love This Book [a web magazine that is now defunct]; here Ill simply attempt to explain why I gave such an accomplished book only 3 stars. If this was a Victorian paint-by-numbers competition, Catton would have top marks. But something is lacking here. My main problem, however, is with the opacity of the astrology angle.

The esoteric material including horoscope charts at the start of each Part, chapter titles that reference zodiac signs, and lunar cycles that bring the narrative back around to meet its starting point adds little, if anything, to the plot. While I certainly recognize the skill that such a formal stricture displays, once again this is proof to me of academic accomplishment rather than novelistic vitality. In this respect, the novel appears too clever for its own good.

You will already have unravelled all the vagaries of the plot by then, and you can end on the sweet note of Anna and Staines arriving in New Zealand, ready to face the myriad adventures that await them in the previous pages.

If not there, page would do the end of Part Three , or perhaps page the end of Part Four. Perhaps, a touch. I love door-stopper novels — when every page is necessary. I wish I could have deemed The Luminaries a five-star book.

It deserves its accolades thus far and I do hope it makes the shortlist, but did I love it? Ergo, three stars.


The Luminaries

The twelve men inform Walter Moody about the events that have happened leading up to the current night. Crosbie Wells, a hermit of no ordinary notice, was found dead in his cabin, from an apparently peaceful death. Cowell Devlin found a letter which states that Emery Staines, a rich and well-liked man in Hokitika who has recently gone missing himself, was to pay 2, pounds to Anna Wetherell, a prostitute well known for frequenting the Chinatown areas of Hokitika, with Crosbie Wells presiding. The man who appears to be at the center of all these occurrences is named Francis Carver, a violent person who coincidentally captained the ship that Moody rode in to Hokitika. There is also a politician named Alistair Lauderback visiting town, himself a shipping magnate, who seems to be wrapped up in the mystery as well. Three weeks later, the wreckage of Godspeed is pulled up onto shore. To do so, she hires Anna, who has recently given up prostitution.


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The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton – review


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