**** The Luminaries

By Eleanor Catton –  Narrated by Mark Meadows – 29 hours, 14 minutes — When will I learn I can read faster than I can listen? This book was an interesting choice for the 2013 Man Booker Prize, as its style is so “unmodern” and seemingly born of the era it describes: the 1866 New Zealand gold fields. Catton expertly weaves together the stories of a half-dozen principal characters and at least a dozen more half-principal (or half-principled) ones trying to unravel the mystery behind a series of local events–a disappearance, a possible attempted suicide, and the death of a drunkard with a fortune in gold hidden in his cabin. At first the story is a deliberate muddle, but as the seemingly disconnected actions of this multitude of characters is brought to light, the reader assembles a gigantic, delightful literary jigsaw. Mark Meadows does an amazing job developing a unique voice for each character and delivering the reading with pizazz. But it’s a lot to keep track of. Much as I admire his reading, I recommend the print version. (1/25)