The Luminaries, by Eleanor Catton

This novel won various awards including most notably the 2013 Booker Prize. I really enjoyed it – it’s a story of various crimes of passion and property in an isolated New Zealand gold rush town in 1865-66, set in a somewhat splintered narrative which only gradually draws together to form a whole picture. I found the intense, detailed portrayal of the raw settler society very compelling, and in particular Catton’s unsentimental depiction of lack of communication across gender and race, driven by the power structures developed and reinforced in a new(ish) society.

I was less convinced by the astrological framework of the narrative, but I am rather picky on this subject as a former historian of astrology. It seemed to me an unnecessary superstructure to what is a very good book without it. But I decided to just ignore it, and to enjoy the rest.