The Luminaries

Finished The Luminaries the other night and enjoyed it from beginning to end.   If you enjoy Victorian lit or mock-Victorian lit, I’m sure you’ll enjoy this.   Over 800 pages, but it moves along, tickety-boo.   There are about a 1,000 questions in the beginning and for a good long way every answer raises more questions.   Walter Moody arrives in the New Zealand mining town of Hokitika in 1866 having had a somewhat disturbing voyage.   He seeks the comfort of a drink and accidentally crashes a secret meeting of twelve townsfolk who are having a confab on the strange events of the recent past.   Each of them sheds light on some aspect of the mystery, but there is much left to wonder about even after everyone has contributed his part.

After finishing I thought, what was the point of the zodiacal stuff and the structure of the book – each part being about half the length of the previous one.   I read a few professional reviews to see if they could shed any light on this and no, they couldn’t.   I don’t think it adds much to the story, but I do love the old fashioned chapter headings.   Also, although it’s a very long book, there’s no real fat in it.   It takes that long to introduce the characters and tell the story.   It’s not an exercise in long, convoluted sentences or endless description.   Highly recommended.

So now, if I’m going to readalong Ulysses starting on the 15th, I have a few days to read something short.  I believe I’m going with Waugh’s The Ordeal of Gilbert Pinfold, which so far, seems to be straight autobiography.  I might start Ulysses early as one other commenter at Roof Beam Reader is planning to do, given as there’s not enough time for us ordinary mortals to read the darned thing.


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