The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton published by Victoria University Press in August 2013 and Granta on 5 September 2013. On 15 October it was announced as the winner of the 2013 Man Booker Prize.
The players include a dead hermit, a suicidal prostitute, a missing millionaire and a cast of twelve men who meet in secret to discuss the mystery of a vast fortune of gold, discovered in the hermits’ cottage. The small settlement of Hokitika has sprung up on the west coast of New Zealand’s South Island, to cater for the influx of diggers in the nearby gold fields. Pay close attention to the twelve men who are introduced at the beginning of the book. Their characters fulfill the needs of the developing town and include a banker, a goldsmith, a hotelier, a newspaperman, a shipping magnate, a gaoler, and a chemist, all of whom, play an important role in the intricately woven plot involving shipping, banking and gold-digging.
There is more to the book than it would appear at first glance, and although the main points of the mystery seem to be evident from the beginning, closer inspection reveals many hidden intrigue’s. Great pains have been taken to plot the astrological charts for the New Zealand skies during the year 1866, and the actions of the characters, each representing a sign of the zodiac or heavenly body, reflect the movements of the stars across the sky.
It is a long book, but manages to keep the reader interested right to the end, where loose ends may or may not be tied up.