by Eleanor Catton
It is 1866, and Walter Moody has come to stake his claim in New Zealand’s booming gold rush. On the stormy night of his arrival, he stumbles across a tense gathering of 12 local men who have met in secret to discuss a series of unexplained events: a wealthy man has vanished, a prostitute has tried to end her life, and an enormous cache of gold has been discovered in the home of a luckless drunk. Moody is soon drawn into a network of fates and fortunes that is as complex and exquisitely ornate as the night sky.
Richly evoking a mid-nineteenth-century world of shipping, banking, and gold rush boom and bust, The Luminaries is at once a fiendishly clever ghost story, a gripping page-turner, and a thrilling novelistic achievement. It richly confirms that Eleanor Catton is one of the brightest stars in the international literary firmament.
This novel won the Man Booker prize, which made me a little wary. But I was ready for something a bit more slow and serious so I dove in. I may have to read it again just to figure out the plot. And take notes! So many cons, double cons, cons within cons. It’s been a while since I read something so heavily tilted to male characters. Given the time and location it was a given, but still.