Good golly it’s been a long time since I added to this blog!
Blame a hectic – nay, traumatic – time at work.
Blame the demands placed on time by a nearly eleven-month old baby.
Blame anything but my own laziness!
Perhaps an excess of humility made me doubt whether anyone was actually reading my blog; and whether it was fair to impose my thoughts and ramblings and meanderings on anyone else.
Anyway, it is now half term and the weather is starting to feel distinctly summery. Currently, to finish my half term, I am sitting in the sun, outside Costa nursing both a Red Berry Cooler and The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton, Man Booker winner, and looking forward to the chocolate fudge cake waiting at home.
Now, on the subject of The Luminaries, I am absolutely loving it! There are some negative reviews around complaining that Catton tells rather than shows us her characters – which she does – but that’s not been a barrier to her characters for me. The New Zealand township is one of the most vivid, alive settings I’ve come across. Not necessarily realistic. But vivid and alive.
And I adore the way the narrator – who is very self-aware – piggybacks the point of view if one individual character at a time so we get to see these twelve men circling around each other and we piece together the history and relationships and interconnected stories. It really is a tapestry of a novel, woven rather than written.
Currently, I’m reaching the end of Part One where our main protagonist, Walter Moody, has happened upon a meeting of the twelve main characters and is discovering their involvement in the death of the hermit Crosbie Wells, the subsequent discovery of a fortune in his cottage, the overdose and apparent suicide attempt of the whore Anna Wetherell and the disappearance of the magnate Emery Staines. Catton has her twelve actors narrate their parts to Moody which her narrative voice then edits and conveys to us: a very self aware story-within-a-story which fit perfectly the title of this part, A Sphere Within A Sphere.
On that structural point, I’m given to understand that there’s a parallel between the story and phases of the moon and the influence of the stars and things like that. That intention is patent from the character “chart“:
Personally, I can appreciate the effort and thought behind that, and at some intellectual level I may make a wry half-smile. But that structural approach holds very little emotional sway for me and, certainly so far, has not encroached on the plot or the characters who – in my opinion and in contrast to some reviews – I do feel are engaging and more than two dimensional.
So, currently, the sphere that is part one is coming to an end and there’s the distinct satisfaction of watching the narrative return to the point where we first encountered it.
And now I intend to finish my holiday by finishing Part One and joining our luminaries in uncovering the secrets of hidden fortunes in gold, disturbed whores, sinister ships’ captains and mysterious things haunting their vessels.