Victoria asked:

did anyone else notice the incredibly mathematical structure of this book? The first chapter is the longest, the second is half as long, the third half as long as the second, etc. I feel like I'm late to the party here, but I only just realized it.

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Titus G In the court case, the value of the gold is exactly 4096 pounds.
4096 is 2 to the power of 12 and there are 12 chapters.
As Mark comments, the structure is a gimmick but one which creates a sense of urgency especially when you approach the end of the book. As each chapter halves in length, it gives the impression that the story is advancing more quickly.
Angela Graves The decreasing length of the chapters mirrors the waning moon.
Mark Hebwood yes and the number of sections in each part is chosen in such a way that it, when added to the number of the part, adds up to a constant "13". So Part 1 has 12 sections, Part 2 has 11, ... and Part 12 has one. Of course this does not mean much and does not obviously play a role in the story. Eleanor's structural tricks do not reflect, and hence heighten, a deeper meaning embedded in the story, and hence they are merely gimmicks. They did not massively take away from my enjoyment of reading the novel, but I must be honest and say that I found them rather annoying. I liked the book, btw... :-)
Larry D'librarian yes, I was captivated by the structure
Kristen I'm struggling through chapter 1 which is boringly long. Shorter chapters would definitely be preferred. Thanks for the tip.
Hannah Cattanach What I have been wondering is what is the significance of the lunar references at each part and each chapter heading? Is it perhaps with Lydia Greenway's charts?
Vivian Takach Even the interactions of the characters follow a pattern. It's really amazing just how much thought went into the structure yet it doesn't feel formulaic and in fact creates a wonderful mood of its own.
Anna Bee Don't give up.. it a great book if u like a book of fiction and an intertwined storyline
Lou Repetto-conry Its following the phases of the moon...I have it on audio book...I read that in wikpedia!
Marilyn I had no idea, as I was reading the book, all the revelations in this thread concerning its structure! I like it even better now.
Alison Boulton I'm into astrology quite seriously, but I didn't really get the significance of the planetary configurations. Maybe I haven't tried hard enough?
Alex Brown I love that the book is so conceptual. its fantastic!
Tracy That completely passed me by reading the book on my Kindle.
Ida Simonson Wow! I enjoyed this book on many levels and reading about the structure makes it even better. The astrological charts puzzled me, but I knew there was a meaning and structure because of the beginning of the book. It was a slow start at first, but once I finished the first chapter, I was intrigued. It is true that I felt a sense of urgency with each chapter. I liked the final chapters because they explained what really happened to the major characters while the minor characters were "living their lives". I think Catton has written a masterpiece and I will definitely recommend the book to my friends.
Greg Victoria, YES! This book has the same number of pages as sheets of cheap toilet paper 4-packs! But on the worthy side, at 830 pages, this is the number of minutes I can go on any given night of good lovin'. (One of these statements is a flat out lie. The other is true cause I counted while I put this book to better use than reading.)
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