Though it may not be your traditional beach read, I am thrilled to finally have the time to pick up a book that I have been wanting to read for a while now: Eleanor Catton’s The Luminaries.
The Luminaries, winner of the 2013 Man Booker Prize, is a finely woven, complex mystery set during the 19th century New Zealand gold rush. The well thought out plot keeps the reader in suspense throughout, with an eclectic group of characters, strange disappearances, dresses with gold sewn into the seams, and the murder of a loner who turns out to be rich – and married. The story begins with a newcomer interrupting a secret meeting: a group of locals have come together in an attempt to shed light on a series of seemingly unrelated crimes in which each man has been implicated in some manner – even the newcomer has a connection to the mystery.
Eleanor Catton does an amazing job building the story using multiple voices to create layers and depth – without ever becoming convoluted. Even though the story follows a number of different characters, Catton still manages to fully develop each one with distinct personalities. She brings the time period to life, making it easy for the reader to picture what life would have been like in a gold rush town, in the gold fields themselves, and spins out the connections between those who live and work there.
This book is perfect summer read for any mystery or history lover. It would be perfect for curling up with at the beach or cottage – or in my case, while my husband is driving as we cross the country to our new home.