Wednesday, 20 May 2015

The Luminaries - Eleanor Catton

I got this for Christmas, over the past few years I've ended up reading many of the booker prize winners and am yet to find one I haven't enjoyed. Being set in New Zealand, this seemed to be even more of a draw than usual. 

It's taken until now to get around to reading it. Not because I didn't want to start it, but more because I had a couple of false starts. The chapters in the beginning of this book are very long, the first two times I tried to start it, I was tired and couldn't make it to a good place to stop before needing to get to sleep. I need to find a good stopping point when I'm reading, particularly in those first few pages.

I had a few nights where I was heading to bed early to read, so it seemed a good time to give the Luminaries a proper go. So I dived in. Although it is mostly set in Hokitika on the West Coast, I will admit that I was quite excited to find quite a few references to Port Chalmers. (I know, sad to admit that I'd find that exciting, but there you go.)

The story is mostly set in the West Coast gold rush of the 1800's and much of the action revolves around a number of characters who have gone to Hokitika to find their fortune. There is a lot going on in this book. Keeping track of the interweaving story lines isn't easy, and I wasn't sure at all where it was going for much of the time. 

I don't want to go dropping spoilers into this, in fact, were I to try to, we'd probably be here all week, there was so much going on in this book. It perhaps meant that there was no real lead or leads, with so many people taking the main role at one time or another in the book. Would it have been better if there had? Possibly, I would have liked to know more about one or two of those who started out in a strong leading role and then faded into the background later.

I did enjoy it, really enjoy it, but it was far from a favourite. There were still questions left to be answered by the end of the book. Or perhaps I lost them in the circular narrative. I'm not sure. It was a very good book technically, well told but just missing that final spark to make it truly fantastic.