Luke’s review of The Luminaries > Likes and Comments

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message 1: by Jane (new)

Jane I also feel a bit ashamed of myself, and frustrated. I don't want books like this to be opaque to me, but they are.


message 2: by Jen (new)

Jen Amen to that! What I like is a good story, well told, without all the fluff. Whilst we're at it I hated The Tigers Wife, so Ha!


message 3: by Louise (new)

Louise It's great when books divide opinions. When different readers either swoon or slam the same aspect of a novel. Individualtity and the use of the written is what makes us human, and I agree this book was well written, but I disagree that it is a worthy Booker winner. Too many words wasted... 200 pages too long in the telling of the story, and the astrology is too 'opaque', and too inaccessible... Communication is the gift, if a writer leaves the majority of the reader unsure to their meaning... why praise the work all the way to Booker?


message 4: by Kina (new)

Kina What a great review - meaning, WOW - you told me exactly what you felt and what I needed to know. I like to be wow'd by a book, but I don't like to be dragged into the undertow while getting to the meat of the matter. Anyway - thanks for an honest and well-written review!!


message 5: by Luke (new)

Luke Thank you greatly for the kind words. There should be a rule with regards to 'Booker' entrants... No works greater than 500 pages... As we readers always seem to feel obliged to read what the critics say is the year's greatest read. Seven hundred and fifty pages into this year's winner, I didn't feel blessed, but felt robbed of something far more precious; time.


message 6: by Kina (new)

Kina :) The one thing I have learned over the past few years - never trust a professional book critic. I think they look for something in literature that the rest of us could care less about. I'm going to *try* to read this book, but I have a feeling I will either give it up or take a few years getting to the end.

Have you read "Cloud Atlas"? How did you feel about that, if so...?


message 7: by Luke (new)

Luke Must admit I saw the movie first... Never heard of the book before then... Following the movie, I had no desire to read the book.


message 8: by Kina (new)

Kina I read the book first. But only because I saw the trailer for the movie and it seemed so different than the descriptions of the book, so I was curious what all the fuss was about. It was a trudge to read and throughout I kept saying to myself that I didn't understand why it was so popular. The weird thing though is that after I made it through the book I realized the story stuck with me. Certain things would happen during the course of a day/week/month and it would remind me of a passage in the book. I suppose in that respect the book was worth the read.

There are plenty of books I read that I thoroughly enjoy - but I don't remember an atmosphere or feeling those books generated - except that I enjoyed them.

Another book I barely made it through was "Drood" by Dan Simmons. I like sci-fi and he has authored several sci-fi books and a few mystery/thrillers. This was a total departure for him. While it was chock full of historical literary references, which I enjoyed, it was just a difficult read.

I can read a long book just as well as anyone else, and the "right" book is worth the effort. But other books remind me of required reading in high school and ick - just cannot enjoy it. :)


message 9: by Jane (new)

Jane I LOVED cloud atlas, but that kind of book is very much my thing.


message 10: by Luke (last edited Dec 26, 2013 09:08AM) (new)

Luke Kina wrote: "I read the book first. But only because I saw the trailer for the movie and it seemed so different than the descriptions of the book, so I was curious what all the fuss was about. It was a trudge..."

I can't honestly recall any book coming across as boring, yet at the same time stuck in my head to be 'remembered' in any profound sense. I think I may give Cloud Atlas a try... Perhaps the writer's heart is in his words... those are often the most powerful... the ones that stick within to be drawn out when most they're needed.


message 11: by Kina (new)

Kina >Luke - I saw you added "Cloud Atlas" as a "want to read" - and in your honor I have downloaded "The Luminaries" sample. As of today I can report..... I've read the first 2 pages. LOL


message 12: by Wil (new)

Wil Can I just suggest that you should never feel you should have to apologize for your taste :) There's plenty of "great" literature that is also a great read, and I don't think this book is included. I only just started, but the prose definitely doesn't pop from the page and make you want to keep reading. I find I keep having to read sentences over again... never a good sign that I try not to second guess myself about (not in the right mood, too much on my mind, etc.). Perhaps a good example would be Henry James. Not a very easy read usually, or downright difficult, but there's some soul there. Well, thanks for letting me ramble.


message 13: by Kina (new)

Kina Wil wrote: "Can I just suggest that you should never feel you should have to apologize for your taste :) There's plenty of "great" literature that is also a great read, and I don't think this book is included..."

Excellent comment!!


message 14: by Joyce (new)

Joyce And I thought it was just me..... I make a habit of not reading Goodreads reviews until I have finished a book so my judgement is not influenced, so I found your review very interesting as I had used almost the same analogy to a piece of Turner prize winning art!


message 15: by Kylie (new)

Kylie I am by no means an uneducated person and I bought The Illuminaries with a voucher before reading the reviews. I only got as far as "Note to the reader" before having to reach for the dictionary. Oh dear..... This could be a loooong book. Loved your review Luke :)


message 16: by Kylie (new)

Kylie Oops read Luminaries...


message 17: by Ruth (new)

Ruth Just made it to the end, it's taken me 6 weeks!
Your thoughts reflect my own, I think the New Zealand history and scenery kept me going.
Very clever, but hard work.
I look forward to seeing the film as it is such a rich tapestry of a story, hopefully with beautiful New Zealand scenery!
Now for something lightweight!
:)


message 18: by Carolinecarver (new)

Carolinecarver I am so glad I read your review before I downloaded 700 pages. Life is too short...excellent review by the way!


message 19: by David (new)

David Streever Is this an excellent review? I think a good review gets at something objective; you are mixing your own limitations with inaccurate critical statements.

This isn't just a prize winner, and this isn't just a book for "literary critics" I'm neither a book award committee nor a critic, and have no educational background in literature, and I absolutely loved this book.

It is well-written, engaging, and deep; it creates a realistic portrayal of a different time and place, and gives life to the characters who inhabit it.

You may not care for those characters. You may not care for the story. You may not care for the length. You may not care for the ending, and you may wish that it had a more narrow, focused singular "point"; but that doesn't mean that non-critics can't enjoy this, or that one must be a literary genius/writer to appreciate it.

It is a sprawling book which anyone who loves reading can appreciate. The length was a big part of my enjoyment; I was able to take my time and read it over a long time period.

If you're a short-attention span reader who doesn't like long books, you aren't going to like ANY long book.

A good review takes an open-minded view of the subject matter; this isn't a review so much as it a predictable comment by someone who admits to not liking long novels. Of course you don't like it; to suggest that there is something deeply wrong in it and that only snobs/english majors can appreciate it is a bit disingenuous at best.


message 20: by Maddie (new)

Maddie God, I am so glad I'm not alone. I seem to have high hopes for books like The Luminaries. I buy them, I can't read them, I think it's my fault. Glad to know that others have the same trouble seeing the picture. Just because it won a prize doesn't mean it will be my cup of tea. So, to read or not to read it anyway? That will always be the question.


message 21: by Sam (new)

Sam You took the words right out of my mouth. Exactly how I feel.


message 22: by Simone (new)

Simone Ramone Thanks for the heads up.


message 23: by Maree (new)

Maree Kimberley I think in the middle section of this book there are some great tales, and it's highly entertaining. It's exactly the sort of book I'd read on holiday (which is what I did). But, Booker Prize or not, it's no work of art. I'd argue it has the artifice of art but not the soul.


message 24: by Pulkit (new)

Pulkit Sharma Luke seems to be fond of writing himself. I found the book, apart from the initial boring chapters, quite engaging.

What you must do, I suggest, pickup a Shakespearean play and develop taste for passive story telling, where the story is not readily fed but needs to be compiled in your head.

Don't, Luke, bother to blow me up, I mean no offence.


message 25: by Scott (new)

Scott Judd Haven't read this one yet (purchased today in one of my favorite used book store) and will try reading with an open mind but I must say I have had similar experiences with other Man Booker winners and listers as you have. Some I've enjoyed and others less so. Now Pulitzer Prize winners I almost always love. Not sure why. Just my two cents worth.


message 26: by Amy (new)

Amy I don't think it's a matter of not enjoying it because you're not literary enough. Ultimately a story is a story, and it will grab you or not. There are a lot of people who get all excited about The Luminaries because it's a clever concept, and does take a bit of following, but there are also people who just love it as a good story. I didn't really enjoy it as much as I thought I should, but that was in no way down to its length - you only notice length when the story's not grabbing you - it just wasn't a story for you (or me). I desperately wanted to love it because I met Eleanor and thought she was wonderful and wise and down to earth, but I found the book too convoluted and drawn out to engage me and I know others, who read more 'challenging' books than me, who agree.


message 27: by Sophia Big Eyes (new)

Sophia Big Eyes Luke- my man! thank you for reinforcing and articulating the reasons why I finished this book with only disappointment. The first third was rough. I need not say more.


message 28: by SallyJo (new)

SallyJo Refreshing. Reading your statements oddly gave me courage to persevere, having been pulled in so deeply by the story and gorgeous language but pushed away by the feeling of inadequacy in appreciating (or understanding!) the density and complexity of every detail. So - I'll continue reading, but at a high level and just enjoy the ride, then head back to the comfortable familiarity of the "interesting but easy" read.


message 29: by T (new)

T Moore Luke: Good review there, laddie

It was so big she added an extra ending and that one had to be abbreviated.

I'm not certain all the dates made sense either - I could care less about returning to find out.

How did the coffin get on the ship? Did I fall asleep when that tidbit was revealed or re-revealed? Or was I on me pipe or the laudanum again.

Back off to me stakes.


message 30: by Carole (new)

Carole For someone saying he doesn't have the literary desire to read a book like this, you certainly write in a beautiful literary style! I have a friend who absolutely loved this book. We all have different tastes, likes & dislikes. You are expressing your own opinion and I don't think others should be critizing your elegantly written opinion. I appreciate your sharing!


message 31: by Maura (new)

Maura Thanks. I am ready to stop reading the book (2nd attempt, not even at page 200). Will donate to my local library.


message 32: by Candice (new)

Candice Whahey look at that, I'm not alone..


message 33: by Nishana (new)

Nishana Sujith Luke,

I am a literary sort of reader and yet, I cannot really seem to like this book. I mean it's intriguing but the fire of intrigue seems to be doused as quickly as it had arisen by the sheer number of sentences used to describe. It's as if I lose track of events and my mind simply seems to wander. I am half way through it and I wanted to know whether someone else feels the same. Glad to find not one but many!


message 34: by Luke (last edited Jan 23, 2015 03:43AM) (new)

Luke Hi

Despite my review I am a literary reader too.

I actually tried to read The Luminaries again. I thought armed with more understanding with the Author's aim for her story, I might find it a better read.

It's my yard-stick of a really good book––If I can read it again and still be engrossed, entertained, and I hope, impressed and enlightened with some good prose and idea.

I took on board other readers' valid comments and settled in to the length of the tale and sought only to enjoy it, not to find fault or criticise.

But I failed to get past page 380. The Author frustrated me––a lack of economy of words, and inability to hold me into the story. And instead of holding on to wonderful writing, I found myself skipping and skipping.

I revised my praise of the author. 'Perhaps a brilliant writer, writing to demonstrate her own writing self-worth?'

I have read Dickens, Shakespeare, Thackeray, Wells, Dunnett, again and again, even a few authors whose books are distributed by the hundreds and not the thousands. These books and plays never fail to occupy my mind or entertain, no matter how many times I read them.

Great books live on and are read again and again... Many Booker prize winners are not... they are often one-hit wonders... Oddities that through celebrity find fame for a moment. I now think the Luminaries is one of these books.

I would love to take a poll.... 'Who has read The Luminaries for a second time?.... and will there be a third?'


message 35: by Nishana (new)

Nishana Sujith Oh! How I agree with you! I've dropped the book. But was feeling extremely bad about it. Your comment seems to say I'm not alone. I just can't. I be tried again and again. It's like trying to fall in love with someone even when you know that you can't. Sadly this was the book I chose to start my new year with! Shame I won't complete it. My problem with such books is that they leave me hating books for a while. Hope the next one would be some good book to get me reading again.


message 36: by Nishana (new)

Nishana Sujith Oh! How I agree with you! I've dropped the book. But was feeling extremely bad about it. Your comment seems to say I'm not alone. I just can't. I be tried again and again. It's like trying to fall in love with someone even when you know that you can't. Sadly this was the book I chose to start my new year with! Shame I won't complete it. My problem with such books is that they leave me hating books for a while. Hope the next one would be some good book to get me reading again.


message 37: by Grace (new)

Grace I actually loved this story, by the end I felt like I had been on the journey. Her sly character observations encapsulated and communicated in a characters thought was fantastic.
The way Catton is able to convey the essence of her characters in one line is what I loved most about this book.
Impressive and epiC.
If you find it takes some time before you get hooked, keep going until yoy get that feeling...it will come!


message 38: by Marilyn (new)

Marilyn Peters I echo Message 30 from Carole... very well said!


message 39: by Shawna (new)

Shawna It's like you got inside my head and wrote down exactly what I was feeling. I closed the book at the end and the first thing I said to my husband was 'I'm not smart enough for this book.'


message 40: by Shawna (new)

Shawna It's like you got inside my head and wrote down exactly what I was feeling. I closed the book at the end and the first thing I said to my husband was 'I'm not smart enough for this book.'


message 41: by Sharon (new)

Sharon Albanese love this review, it captures the way I feel about this book. Thanks for writing about it so well.


message 42: by Sharon (new)

Sharon Leach I found it extremely well written but a chance missed with regards to the actual story. It just seemed to founder.


message 43: by Sarah (new)

Sarah Solman Totally agree. I took six weeks to read it!! I slogged on to the end with a this book will not beat me mentally. Clever? Yes. Enjoyable? Sorry no


message 44: by Luke (new)

Luke Usually, I hoard books read. Hardbacks I purchase and read get kept, even though I know I will never read them again. I read the Luminaries one and a half times... and I was glad to remove the 'tome' from my library. There are very few books that go from my shelves... This book was a weighty exercise in how clever a writer can be. But who was it written for?


message 45: by Zee (new)

Zee Never be ashamed for taking Asimov to bed. He also is for the discerning reader! Great review - though I do agree that you must have a working understanding of astrology if you are to truly appreciate this one. I have started reading (10 pages in) and already it feels like a star-crossed fated encounter. The semantics in particular all point to astrology. It is a fine piece of work.


message 46: by Mita (new)

Mita Don’t you dare get rid of Ant & Dec, pop music legends that they are


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