Luminary : definitionAn object, such as a celestial body, that gives light.In astrology, one of the brightest celestial objects, such as the sun, moon, or bright planets.
A person who inspires others or achieves eminence in a field.
I think this is probably what constitutes a rather profligate 21st century reading dilemma...
The hardback edition is too heavy, the Kindle version no good for flicking back and forth and so I have also resorted to the Third Way, a more manageable paperback edition of Eleanor Catton's Booker Prize-winning novel The Luminaries, though I haven't finished it yet so please don't tell me what happens. But having read 400 pages or so, which is the equivalent of any other book in total, there is so much spinning around in my head I thought a half-way post might be an idea or you will be waiting until next year for final thoughts.
And besides that, whilst looking up an accurate meaning of the word luminary seemed like a good place to start, if you have read the book I could use your help right now.
For those that haven't read The Luminaries the story thus far, set in Hokitika on the west coast of New Zealand's South Island, revolves around a group of people living and prospecting for gold in the 1860s. There has been a mysterious death, missing trunks (storage not swimming), missing people, the discovery of a surprise cache of gold aka 'the colour', the arrival of a stranger, a meeting of men implicated in something they are, as yet, very uncertain about, some complicated weddings, a ship has sunk, and the captain, loathed by one and all for reasons as yet unknown, seems nowhere to be found. All set against a backdrop of opium dens, brothels, intrigue and suspicion and a lot of very messy weather.
Eleanor Catton builds up the story layer upon layer, each one folding again within itself until I was so completely immersed it has been getting harder and harder to extricate and do things like wash the kitchen floor. I have stopped reading all other books in order to stay in the geographical zone 42 43' 0" S / 170 58' 0" which, when you check it out is, predictably, Hokitika. Italy with Elena Ferrante and China with Edmund de Waal are waiting patiently in the wings
Each layer rests lightly on the next, skilfully handing on the baton of character and plot, all of which must have taken an almighty amount of skill, patience and post-it notes to create. Successive characters add their version of the truth as they sees it, or in some cases perhaps the partial truth, with the narrative darting back and forth in time and place, as the story is revealed to Walter Moody, the stranger in town. Slowly the plot builds and emerges, and I can easily imagine readers giving up on this book while waiting for something significant to happen.
If you have I wonder if this is why?
I have had to persevere after several start-stop failures since The Luminaries was published.
The greater mystery for me is all the astrological significance, and I daren't look it up for fear of spoilers, but what am I missing?
And does it matter...
As well as charts each chapter heading is screaming clues at me I feel sure...
Mars in Sagittarius... Saturn in Libra.... Sun in Capricorn... Medium Coeli / Imum Coeli.
Planets are aligning and I must be missing it all.
I've looked these up and can only assume that perhaps their meanings point towards the action in the chapter, but say the word 'zodiac' to me and for some reason I don't think star signs until I've gone through the sleek lines of Mr Simmonds' Zephyr Zodiac car back in the early 1960s. It was the only car in the street and quite a spectacle and I've never really been one for astrology anyway. I don't read my horoscope, and, apart from knowing that I am a Libran who is supposedly well-balanced and can't make decisions, I have not the first clue about whether the sun rises in my Sagittarius or if my Jupiter is dominant in my Gemini.
With the basic info you can actually do your own birth chart online, which I did because charts feature in The Luminaries, and this revelation might explain why I had to start looking all this up...
Mars is in 07 Degrees Virgo.
Very careful and systematic, you pay great attention to details. You are always seeking perfection and sometimes get bogged down searching for the ultimate when adequacy would have been sufficient. You dislike abstractions, preferring whatever is practical, useful and demonstrable.
And then there are all those squiggly zodiac signs...Libra is ♎ which I have taken no notice of ever, but can now see means something, and which Eleanor Catton uses in such great detail that I feel sure I am missing acres of significance.
Thus far all I can do is marvel at a book which offers superlative writing on every page and carry on reading and enjoying. I can't even imagine myself writing any of this, let alone being able to put the right words in the right order, it really is a tour de force for such a young writer and little wonder that The Luminaries won the Booker Prize in 2013.
If you have read it I would love to know your thoughts..
Is 'adequacy sufficient' or am I right to be 'searching for the ultimate.'..
Should I just read for a jolly good story and not expect more...
If you have given up on The Luminaries I would love to know your thoughts too...
And what about astrology per se...