Excerpt from The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

The Luminaries

A Novel

by Eleanor Catton

The Luminaries
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Oct 2013, 848 pages
    Paperback:
    Oct 2014, 864 pages

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Sarah Tomp

Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt


Moody could not produce an appropriate response to this remark, so he bowed again—and then, as if to repudiate all puritanical implication, he drank deeply from his glass. Outside, a gust of wind interrupted the steady lash of the rain, throwing a sheet of water against the western windows. Balfour examined the end of his cigar, still chuckling; Moody placed his own between his lips, turned his face away, and drew lightly upon it.

Just then one of the eleven silent men got to his feet, folding his newspaper into quarters as he did so, and crossed to the secretary in order to exchange the paper for another. He was wearing a collarless black coat and a white necktie—a clergyman's dress, Moody realized, with some surprise. That was strange. Why should a cleric elect to get his news in the smoking room of a common hotel, late on a Saturday night? And why should he keep such silent company, in doing so? Moody watched as the reverend man shuffled through the pile of broadsheets, rejecting several editions of the Colonist in favor of a Grey River Argus, which he plucked out with a murmur of pleasure, holding it away from his body and tilting it, with appreciation, toward the light. Then again, Moody thought, reasoning with himself, perhaps it was not so strange: the night was very wet, and the halls and taverns of the town were likely very crowded. Perhaps the chaplain had been obliged, for some reason, to seek temporary refuge from the rain.

"So you had a quarrel," Balfour said presently, as if Moody had promised him a rousing tale, and had then forgotten to begin it.

"I was party to a quarrel," Moody corrected him. "That is, the dispute was not of my own making."

"With your father, I suppose."

"It is painful to relate, sir." Moody glanced at the other man, meaning to silence him with a stern look, but Balfour responded by leaning further forward, encouraged by the gravity of Moody's expression to believe the story all the more worth his hearing.

"Oh, come!" he said. "Ease your burden."

"It is not a burden to be eased, Mr. Balfour."

"My friend, I have never heard of such a thing."

"Pardon me to change the subject—"

"But you have roused me! You have roused my attention!" Balfour was grinning at him.

"I beg to refuse you," Moody said. He was trying to speak quietly, to protect their conversation from the rest of the room. "I beg to reserve my privacy. My motive is purely that I do not wish to make a poor impression upon you."

"But you're the wronged man, you said—the dispute, not of your making."

"That is correct."

"Well, now! One needn't be private about that!?" Balfour cried. "Do I not speak truly? One needn't be private about another fellow's wrong! One needn't feel ashamed of another fellow's—deeds, you know!" He was being very loud.

"You describe personal shame," Moody said in a low voice. "I refer to the shame that is brought upon a family. I do not wish to sully my father's name; it is my name also."

"Your father! But what have I told you already? You'll find fathers enough, I said, down in the gorge! That's no turn of phrase—it's custom, and necessity—it's the way that things are done! Let me tell you what counts for shame on the diggings. Cry a false field—that's worthy. Dispute the pegging on a claim—that's worthy. Rob a man, cheat a man, kill a man—that's worthy. But family shame! Tell that to the bellmen, to cry up and down the Hokitika-road—they'll think it news! What's family shame, without a family?"

Balfour concluded this exhortation with a smart rap of his empty glass upon the arm of his chair. He beamed at Moody, and lifted his open palm, as if to say that his point had been so persuasively phrased as to need no further amendment, but he would like some kind of approbation all the same. Moody gave another automatic jerk of his head and replied, in a tone that betrayed the exhaustion of his nerves for the first time, "You speak persuasively, sir."

Excerpted from The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton. Copyright © 2013 by Eleanor Catton. Excerpted by permission of Little Brown & Company. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Beyond the Book:
  New Zealand's Gold Rush

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member
and discover your next great read!

Join Today!

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
The Opposite of Everyone
by Joshilyn Jackson

"Quirky and appealing characters, an engaging story, and honest dialogue make this a great book!"
- BookBrowse

About the book
Join the discussion!

Award Winners

  • Book Jacket: All We Have Left
    All We Have Left
    by Wendy Mills
    September 11, 2001 is a date that few Americans will ever forget. It was on this day that our ...
  • Book Jacket: A Great Reckoning
    A Great Reckoning
    by Louise Penny
    Canadian author Louise Penny is back with her twelfth entry in the Chief Inspector Armand Gamache ...
  • Book Jacket: Homegoing
    Homegoing
    by Yaa Gyasi
    It's all very well to challenge people to be the masters of their own destiny, but when you&#...

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    Victoria
    by Daisy Goodwin

    Daisy Goodwin breathes new life into Victoria's story, and does so with sensitivity, verve, and wit." - Amanda Foreman

    Read Member Reviews

Who Said...

We must believe in luck. For how else can we explain the success of those we don't like?

Click Here to find out who said this, as well as discovering other famous literary quotes!

Word Play

The Big Holiday Wordplay:
$400+ in Prizes

Enter Now

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.