For our second edition of POP Reviews,we'll tackle the latest (and grandest) literary tome to cross my nightstand - The Luminaries, by Eleanor Catton. I'll own up - this was Bookspace Detroit's initial selection for our Moveable Feast Book Club, but the stars didn't quite align and we did not run on it like we should have. Still, I read this extraordinarily unique ghost/gold rush story and lived to tell the tale so without further ado, let's get you 100 words on the matter.
POP REVIEW #2: THE LUMINARIES, by ELEANOR CATTON
Much attention has been paid to this book, winner of the Man Booker prize by its youngest-ever recipient. It’s a brilliantly crafted and meticulously plotted homage to the Victorian novel, with a framing device clever enough to add a magical element to every page. That being said, a PhD had to explain the framing device to me so that I could understand it. It’s not an easy read, and while the mystery is compelling, the payoff is a longtime coming. The best parts occur when characters are fully realized through flashbacks, painting a fuller picture of the setting and times.
Addendum, or: What else you should know: This feels like the type of book one should love, and one should geek out over. I'm sure many an English major would - and sadly, I don't feel I can count myself among them. This book was long, and at times dragged on. But reading about Victorian New Zealand (gold rush! opium trade! settlers and governance and new beginnings!) was an entirely new world for me, and I loved the way she painted the characters and how they saw themselves and each other. It is a book that at times requires the reader to put some work in - if you refuse, you'll still get a long, and dense, mystery and ghost story. If you choose to put in the work, you'll appreciate it on a much deeper level as writers and readers. The question is whether this payoff warrants that type of work, and that depends entirely on you.
Bookspace Rating: Three gold bars and a giant boot of beer.