The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton starts with Mercury in Sagittarius:
The twelve men congregated in the smoking room of the Crown Hotel gave the impression of a party accidentally met. From the variety of their comportment and dress - frock coats, tailcoats, Norfolk jackets with buttons of horn, yellow moleskin, cambric, and twill - they might have been twelve strangers on a railway car, each bound for a separate quarter of a city that possessed fog and tides enough to divide them; indeed, the studied isolation of each man as he pored over his paper, or leaned forward to tap his ashes into the grate, or placed the splay of his hand upon the baize to take his shot at billiards, conspired to form the very type of bodily silence that occurs, late in the evening, on a public railway - deadened here not by the slur and clunk of the coaches, but by the fat clatter of the rain.
This is a much appreciated book, having won the Man Booker prize this year. It seems that people either love it or hate it. It is a very special book, as I would say all Man Booker prize winners are! I am not always on the same tune as they are. However, for this book, I am.
One of the reasons why I love it, I think is, that I always loved the Wild West. This is not exactly the wild west, but still looking for gold...this time not in the US but in New Zealand's South Island's West Coast in mid 1860s. It starts with a death and a disappearance. From there you follow the action from 12 different people's view. It starts with Walther Moody arriving in Hokitika and by chance checking in to a hotel, visiting the bar and running in to a gang of 12 people having decided to meet to get the whole picture of the death and the disappearance! On you go for 832 pages with a story that is sometimes told in 2nd person sometimes in 3rd person. Most of the men are connected to Anna, the whore, but she is quite mysterious until the very end.
At some point in the end of the story I felt that it was maybe to long and dragged out to long. However, the story was told in such a delicate way and in such a way that you always looked forward to another view. In the latter part of the book you get the story of what happened before the book starts. I found it quite strange, but on the other hand, it gives you the background. And then the end.... I wondered how it would end from the middle of the book...and then it ended? Well, I let you discover for yourselves.!
What I mostly loved about the book, apart from the story, which was told in a very sensitive way, was the language in which it was written. Beautiful, quite simple, prose. It gave a very interesting view of the characters, all very different, but becoming very familiar when you return to them. I think, that what mostly grasped me was the language in which it was told.
For me, it was a lovely book!