A quick word of praise for Eleanor Catton. Hers is a story well worth following to its end.

Because the Len Brown story is such an overdone and familiar trope, it's worth pausing to praise Eleanor Catton for winning the Booker Prize (OK, OK, Man Booker Prize) for a truly original and freshly told one.

I don't think The Luminaries is a perfect book. It contains a bit too much authorial description for my taste. The use of astrology was clever, but I'm not sure it added anything to the strength of the tale (or, rather, what it added beyond "being clever" was a bit ... silly). Basing the book's structure around the Golden Mean became somewhat forced (especially when the accompanying chapter headnotes grew in length to compensate).

[edit: on reflection, I take back part of that criticism. Given how central the astrological relationships and influences are to the plot and characters, I can't just dismiss its inclusion as "silly". Without this aspect, The Luminaries wouldn't be the book that it is. Whether that other book would have been as good (or even better) is beside the point ... so I recant my views on this aspect of the novel.]

But there is no denying the sheer imaginative power, the craftswomanship and innovative skill that Catton displays. The mere fact I lugged around a text that must weigh close to 2 kilograms for a couple of weeks, eager to see how it all came togetehr at the end, demonstrates its addictive nature.

Also, having read the bookeeper's assumed favourite for the award, Jim Crace's Harvest, I'd agree that Catton's is the "better book" (insofar as you can judge that sort of thing at all). And I say that as a real fan of Crace.

So - well done, Eleanor Catton. And aren't authors getting young today? 

Comments (6)

by Graeme Edgeler on October 16, 2013
Graeme Edgeler

Booker, like T. Washington, not Brooker, like Charlie.

by Andrew Geddis on October 16, 2013
Andrew Geddis


Getting it wrong once ... foolish. Twice is just pathetic.

Only excuse is that I flicked this off before running out the door to play indoor football, so it didn't get an edit.

by Graeme Edgeler on October 16, 2013
Graeme Edgeler

If you'd got it wrong once, I'd have assumed it was a typo and not mentioned it at all :-)

by Maureen Jansen on October 16, 2013
Maureen Jansen

I read "We Need New Names", another contender. Although I enjoyed it much more than "The Luminaries" (which I found contrived and wordy), I can understand why Catton's book was deemed worthier of an award. It's a bigger book physically and mentally. 

by william blake on October 18, 2013
william blake

Literature 1. - Sport 0. (not that its a competition)

by James Green on October 30, 2013
James Green

As an aside (and especially for any one given to reading or writing theses); it is 266,922 words long, or 583 pages of 12 point font (single spaced, but with a line between paragraphs). I'm only about a fifth of the way in, but it wears its length very light.

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