Tuesday, December 3, 2013

The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton

I've heard it said that this is a very literary novel. I suppose this is true, but today, I don't really want to do an analysis of the book - I'd rather look at how readable the book is. There are good books that are very hard to read, and books that are pure fluff. This book falls somewhere in-between.

At its most basic level, this book is a murder mystery. There is a suspicious death, and a suspicious disappearance (possibly murder). At the same time, a famous town prostitute is going through some very strange things. What the book does is to connect these events through 13 men who tell the story in parts.

Now, how readable is this book?

Let's look at the narration. The book doesn't follow a normal linear chronology. It starts somewhere in the middle, then it goes back into the past, and then back into the present, and then continues on to the future. It may sound confusing, but I managed to follow along without too much problem.

The next probable problem would be the number of characters. There are the 13 main characters and at least five other characters. But, again, I didn't have too much problem keeping track. I think the reason is because most of the characters are very distinctive.

For me, the only thing I didn't quite like was the speed of narration. It starts of fairly slow, which I was fine with, but as the chapter lengths got shorter, the pace of the book picked up, and finally, at the end, it felt a little too fast for me. But since the book is intentionally written in such a way that each section is half the length of the previous one, I suppose this is unavoidable.

While I didn't quite understand the connection to astrology/the stars, I thought this was an interesting read. There are a whole host of characters, which add intricacy and subplots, while the main mystery was interesting - that made the length of the book race by.

Note: This book was read for the Tea and Books reading challenge.


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  2. An intelligent, rich, frustrating (as life can be), compelling marvel of a book. It leaves you wanting more, still trying to work things out, aware than some things will never be worked out, thinking and wondering - comparisons to Wilkie Collins are not far off. As rich and rewarding and agonizing and addictive as life itself!
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