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AWF 2014

Review of reviews

Reviews offer a personal take on a book, and give us readers insight into what we can expect when we buy, borrow or beg the latest bestselling read. We regularly gather together a bunch of online reviews of bestselling or much-talked-about books for your pleasure and convenience.

New




Review of reviews



The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton

August 2013

Eleanor Catton’s second novel, The Luminaries, soared to stratospheric heights, making the 2013 Man Booker long list even before it was officially published. The novel advanced to what has been called ‘the best Booker shortlist in a decade’, and was widely reviewed, both locally and internationally. While the critical reception has been very positive, some reviews have taken a negative stance on aspects of the novel, leading to a Twitter conversation about the very nature of reviewing itself. Catton herself joined the conversation and tweeted: ‘Destruction is much easier than creation. a [sic] good review creates more than it destructs’.

  • The Telegraph’s Lucy Daniel praises the novel, saying ‘Just as the market seems saturated with Victoriana, along comes Catton and proves herself as entertaining a mistress of plot and pacing as Sarah Waters.’
  • Kirsty Gunn’s review in The Guardian weighs up The Luminaries against Catton’s first novel, The Rehearsal. For Gunn, The Luminaries makes ‘us consider so carefully whether we want a story with emotion and heart or an intellectual idea about the novel in the disguise of historical fiction … There lies the real triumph of Catton's remarkable book.’
  • The Independent’s Simmy Richmond admires The Luminaries’ complexity and ‘sheer rip-roaring readability’ and writes it’s ‘the type of novel that you will devour only to discover that you can't find anything of equal scope and excitement to read once you have finished.’
  • Guy Somerset from The Listener (subscribers only) is more critical, saying The Luminaries ‘is a novel that so dazzles you with its accomplishments and ambitions that it’s easy to be distracted from its lack of ambition where it really matters.’
  • Lesley McDowell reviews what he calls ‘Eleanor Catton’s expansive, and in many places, quite superb, new work’ for The Scotsman.
  • CK Stead reviews for The Financial Times: ‘My difficulty is similar to one I have with much of Peter Carey’s work (and Catton is quite his equal): that it doesn’t allow me to forget, even for a moment, that this is fiction – the novel as game, played brilliantly, but at such length I couldn’t entirely overcome that impatience.’
  • Eileen Battersby, in her glowing review for The Irish Times, says, ‘Her second novel is a traditional narrative drawing on the Victorian notion of mystery pulsing at the heart of a tale shaped by the stars and fate’s hand; it is told well, and at length, reducing the reader to an awestruck follower.’
  • Paula Green for the NZ Herald says: ‘Every now and then you get to read a novel that elevates you far beyond the bric-a-brac of everyday routine, takes you apart, reassembles you, and leaves you feeling as though you have been on holiday with a genius.'
  • Jane Stafford finds The Luminaries extraordinary in her review for New Zealand Books (subscribers only). She says, 'Above all, despite the length of the work, its complexity and the range of its intellectual allusiveness, it is the writing, elegant, confident, poetic in the best sense, the sense that drives rather than clogs the prose, that is the engine of The Luminaries. Catton writes with her ear as well as her intellect; her sentences have a graceful balance and the tone of her narration, sustained throughout the length of the novel, is both cool and tender.'
  • Reviews on Good Reads have been strongly positive

Other links of interest:


Review of reviews



Anticipation by Tanya Moir

June 2013

Anticipation is Tanya Moir's second novel and follows her successful debut, La Rochelle's Road. Anticipation is a rich and darkly funny novel about family history and the risk and power of knowledge. Here's what readers and reviewers have been saying about the novel:
 

Further excerpted reviews as found on the Random House profile for Anticipation:

'had me hooked from page one . . . clever, funny, disturbing and dark . . . a highly skilled writer hitting her strides' - Australian Woman's Weekly

'beguiling' - Paul Little, North & South

'A wicked pleasure and no mistake.' - Mike Fallow, Southland Times

'When [novels] are written as well as this one is, with as much energy and style, the result is a rare treat . . . Tanya Moir weaves a story as rich, intricate and colourful as a tapestry. It is briskly told and is deeply, satisfyingly good . . . Moir is clearly a New Zealand writer to watch.' - Joan Curry, Dominion Post Weekend

'It is superbly written . . . This is a novel to savour and an author to watch.' - Elizabeth Winter, Saturday Express

Other interesting links:

 




Review of reviews



Risk by C.K. Stead

October 2012

Recently divorced New Zealander Sam Nola returns to London, where he spent two years in his early twenties. It is early 2003, and on both sides of the Atlantic the case for military intervention in Iraq is being made – or fabricated.

But life for Sam has never been better: a grown-up, half-French daughter from a long ago affair has recently got in touch, and he has walked into a lucrative role in the booming banking sector. It is only when he learns of the deaths of two friends within a week that intrigue begins to intrude on his contentment, that life begins to feel a little more precarious.

“Risk is a confident, briskly paced and practical account of one man’s self-rescue, but it is a personal odyssey that is also a study of modern society on the run.”

  • The NZ Listener review of Risk by John McCrystal (subscribers only):

“For evil to triumph, it is necessary only for good people to do nothing. There can be no denying the moral decline of the Western empire over the past two decades when you see it written down: it all happened while most of us looked the other way. CK Stead’s latest novel is set against this background.”

“The indefatigable C.K. Stead (who turns 80 next Wednesday) covers a lot of ground in his latest novel, both geographically and thematically.”

“Set against the gathering storms of the last decade, CK Stead's Risk is a wonderful, slow-burning novel.”


Other links of interest
 

  • Read the prologue from Risk
  • C. K. Stead talks about his new novel, Risk on Radio NZ
  • You Tube interview with C.K. Stead at the Frankfurt Book Fair
  • C. K. Stead talks about Risk on 95Bfm radi

Review of reviews



From Under the Overcoat by Sue Orr

Sue Orr

2011 Buddle Findlay Scholar Sue Orr’s most recent collection of stories was published in February, with Fiona Kidman launching it, saying, “Sue Orr’s stories have that mesmerising quality that makes the reader race on, hoping they will never end, yet desperate to find out what happens next.”

- Kelly Ana Morey reviewed it for the NZ Herald here
- Alison Stedman blogs about it at Halfway Down the Stairs ‘We All Fall Down’
- An interesting point of view from Clare McIntosh for the Sunday Star Times
- Let the literary references stay in the background, and read the writing for what it is, says Nicholas Reid in The Listener
- Q & A with the author herself in the Sunday Star Times
- Finally, Mary McCallum reviews it on ‘Nine to Noon’

Other interesting links

Sue Orr has a Book Council Writer's File here. From Under the Overcoat is a finalist for the 2012 New Zealand Post Award for Fiction. The winners will be announced on Wednesday 1 August.
 


Review of reviews



Young Adult section of the NZ Post children’s book awards

various

Want to formulate your winners’ list for the NZ Post Children’s Book Awards next week, but somehow forgot to read all the books? Well, here is your chance! This is a collection of reviews for the Young Adult Fiction nominees.

The Bridge
, by Jane Higgins (Text Publishing Company)

The city is at war in this fantastic post-apocalyptic vision from Cantabrian Jane Higgins. Start your journey by looking at the book trailer. Then here are some reviews:

  • Junior Bookseller and Publisher commented on The Bridge when it won the Text Prize for Young Adult and Children’s Writing in 2010.
  • Leanne Hall from Readings bookstore in Melbourne says The Bridge is ‘one of those rare books that manages to be layered and thought-provoking, as well as action-packed and entertaining’. 
  • And to find a bit more out about the author Jane Higgins, see this feature from the Sunday Star-Times, written by Kim Knight.

Dirt Bomb, by Fleur Beale (Random House New Zealand)

Dirt Bomb tells the story of Jake and his mates, and their summer project – getting an old bomb to drive another day.

Calling the Gods, by Jack Lasenby (HarperCollins Publishers)

Calling the Gods is another post-apocalyptic drama, with a strong central female character helping to lead a group of her friends and family to safety shortly before her town self-destructs through internal squabbling.

  • Bob Docherty enjoys this on his blog review, while BookieMonster thought it could do with a heavier edit.
  • National Library blog Create Readers calls it a ‘story of survival, hope, courage and hardship’.
  • The Booksellers blog invited a teenager to comment on each YA finalist, and young reviewer Aleisha Cotterill echoed the concerns of BookieMonster.

Yes, by Deborah Burnside (HarperCollins Publishers)

A story based around the personal trials and tribulations of a group of boys trying to get a project together for the ‘Young Enterprise Scheme’, which many schools in New Zealand participate in as part of their Economics programme.

  • On the Booksellers blog, author Gillian Torckler says ‘This is a story that almost any teenage reader could associate with’.
  • The Book Chatter blogger says ‘The author, Deborah Burnside has expertly managed to pull what can only be described as a tough and compelling story into a coherent and heart warming tale of adversity, struggle, self discovery and success.’
  • Linda Hall posted a positive review in The Northern Advocate

Sacrifice, by Joanna Orwin (HarperCollins Publishers)
A talented young Maori boy hopes to be chosen to be a Traveller – to search the rest of New Zealand for survivors of the series of tsunamis and volcanoes that has ruined most of the land.
- Fellow YA fantasy writer Helen Lowe blogs about Sacrifice while mid-book here
- Reviewer and children’s books expert Trevor Agnew calls Sacrifice ‘a mature, thought-provoking novel.’
- Ann Packer reviews Sacrifice for The Listener here – ‘stunningly satisfying’. []



Archive



Review of reviews



The Night Book by Charlotte Grimshaw

July 2011

The Night Book by Auckland-based author Charlotte Grimshaw is a finalist in the Fiction category of the 2011 New Zealand Post Book Awards. Many reviews have appeared since The Night Book hit New Zealand book shelves in May 2010, and we list a selection here.

Other

The Book Council offer some recommendations for reading on if you enjoyed The Night Book and the Sunday Star Times ran Q&A with Charlotte Grimshaw about The Night Book




Review of reviews



Their Faces were Shining by Tim Wilson

July 2011

Their Faces Were Shining, by New York-based New Zealand author Tim Wilson was published in 2010. It's a finalist in the Fiction category of the 2011 New Zealand Post Book Awards. Find out what reviewers and readers have been saying about Wilson’s debut novel.
 

Other

Stuff feature Q & A with Tim Wilson in the Sunday Star Times and there is a NZ Herald Entertainment feature on Wilson and Their Faces Were Shining. You can find out more about the book on official website and buy it online from VUP and meBooks.
 




Review of reviews



The Hut Builder by Laurence Fearnley


October 2011

The Hut Builder by Laurence Fearnley won the Fiction category of the 2011 New Zealand Post Book Awards. What have reviewers been saying about this award-winning novel?

 

Other interesting links

Read a NZ Listener interview with Laurence Fearnley, and listen to a Radio New Zealand The Arts on Sunday segment on The Hut Builder. Also, in Landfall 221 Elizabeth Smither reviews The Hut Builder.





 

Review of reviews



Gifted by Patrick Evans


October 2011

Gifted, by University of Canterbury English Professor Patrick Evans, is being praised for a masterful mix of fiction and history, for this novel which tells the story of Janet Frame’s early career through the eyes of her mentor Frank Sargeson. It was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writers Prize in 2011.

  • A press release featuring a personal interview with Patrick Evans about the genesis of the novel is here
  • The transcript of Kate De Goldi’s launch speech for Gifted can be seen here
  • Lawrence Jones reviews it for the Otago Daily Times here
  • This is where you will find the Sunday Star Times review by Cheryl Pearl Sucher
  • There is a great review on Craig Cliff’s blog here: ‘Reading Gifted for me was like standing at a river delta and watching the different coloured waters collide, moil and eventually mix.’
  • Listen to Kim Hill chatting to Patrick Evans on Radio NZ
  • And, if you were wondering why the late review, the final Writers on Mondays for the year features the man himself, Patrick Evans
  • As a warm-up for the event later today, check out Kea & Kettle’s video interview with Patrick Evans

Other interesting links

For those of you wondering about the storm in a teacup that this book prompted, this link is to writer and reviewer Susan Pearce’s blog, which sums it up fairly well. You can find out more about the book on the official website and buy it online from VUP and meBooks, or keep your favourite bricks and mortar bookseller alive at Unity Books or VicBooks.


Review of reviews



Small Holes in the Silence: Collected Works by Hone Tuwhare

November 2011

Hone Tuwhare was New Zealand’s most distinguished Maori poet writing in English. This postumous collection (Godwit, 2011) showcases a wide range of Tuwhare’s poetry, from his early collection No Ordinary Sun (one of the most reprinted collections in New Zealand) right up to his final works, published when he was in his eighties. The book includes a handful of previously unpublished poems, and a number of poems have been translated into Māori by his friends Patu Hohepa, Selwyn Muru and Waihoroi Shortland.
 

Other interesting links

Hone Tuwhare's Book Council Writers file has a host of information about his work, as well as a great selection of links to content online, including videos and interviews. The Hone Tuwhare Charitable Trust website is also an excellent resource.     

 




Review of reviews



The Sweet Second Life of Darrell Kincaid by Catherine Robertson

December 2011

This best-seller is a debut novel from kiwi writer Catherine Robertson. Unusually for a chick-lit title, The Sweet Second Life of Darrell Kincaid has garnered favourable reviews from all facets of the media. We are very happy to have Catherine appear in our event True Stories Told Live: Family Holiday on 13 February.

  • ‘Astonishingly Good. A new kiwi treasure has been found’ Reviewer Stephanie Jones for Easy Mix Book Reviews was driven to a moment of patriotic pride by the title.
  • Sonja de Friez reviewed it on Nine to Noon for National Radio on 7 September
  • A reviewer for Newstalk ZB gives it the thumbs up as well
  • Gillian Vine reviewed the title for the Otago Daily Times, with a great creative title for her review
  • And the best type of coverage – TV coverage. Kerre Woodham gives a rave review on TV1's Good Morning

Other interesting links

From Wellington to San Francisco during the dot com boom and bust, to London working for an advertising company, we suggest you check out Catherine Robertson’s very interesting biography on her website. Also, the reviews that we may have missed are mentioned here. At the time of this Review of Reviews, The Sweet Second Life of Darrell Kincaid is still on the NZ bestseller list.


Review of reviews



The Larnachs by Owen Marshall

January 2012

Acclaimed author Owen Marshall’s first historical novel, The Larnachs, brings to life the spectacular fall of a prominent Dunedin family. Based on the real-life businessman and MP, William Larnach, the novel balances fact and fiction as it explores the long-held rumours of a love triangle between Larnach, his new wife, and son from a previous marriage. Find out what reviewers are saying about Owen Marshall’s latest book.

Other interesting links

Read interviews with Owen Marshall in the Otago Daily Times and The Listener. Listen to Owen Marshall talk about The Larnachs with Chris Laidlaw on Radio New Zealand's Sunday Morning programme.


Review of reviews



The Parihaka Woman by Witi Ihimaera

February 2012

Witi Ihimaera’s twelfth novel The Parihaka Woman sets the remarkable story of Erenora against the historical background of the turbulent and compelling events that occurred in Parihaka during the 1870s and 1880s. Witi Ihimaera himself says, “I first visited Parihaka as a schoolboy in the 1960s, and meeting its elders and kuia, and getting to know its history captured my imagination. Little did I realise that many years later I would be able to write a mahi aroha, a work of love, to honour them.” Ihimaera also had to come up with a heroine through whose life he would be fully able to encompass the story of Parihaka and, in particular, its aftermath. "Of all places, I found her in Beethoven," he teases. “I recast his heroine Leonore in Fidelio as a Maori woman, and placed her in the middle of the Land Wars.”
 

Other related links

Read the NZ Listener interview with Witi Ihimaera, or watch a video interview with the author at the Cheltenham Literature Festival 2011. There is also the Gisborne Herald interview by Kristine Walsh or this Book Council interview with the author.




 


Review of reviews



Hand Me Down World by Lloyd Jones

February 2012

Hand me down world is Lloyd Jones’ first novel since the acclaimed Mister Pip, which was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize in 2007, and won the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize the same year. As such, his latest novel has been reviewed everywhere from the NZ Herald, to The Guardian and The Independent. Hand Me Down World has also been longlisted for the 2012 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. Enjoy the following selection of reviews:
 

  • Paula Green enjoyed it, saying it ‘highlighted the power of story’ in the NZ Herald
  • James Purdon enjoyed Jones’ talent in weaving character voices to create a rounded story of a woman who has been robbed of her identity. The review appeared in The Guardian (UK)
  • The Independent’s James Urquhart says the book is a ‘masterful, prismatic piece of storytelling’ here
  • Meanwhile, over the Atlantic, the novel received a much more critical reading by Maureen Corrigan here in The Washington Post
  • Blogger reviewers at Plume of Words, Good Choice Reading and Culture Mulcher all enjoyed the book.

Further reading

Read Lloyd Jones' blog interview for Booktopia Blog: A Book Bloggers’ Paradise. Also, listen to the ABC National radio feature event with Jones at the Wheeler Centre in Melbourne.



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Review of reviews



Rangatira by Paula Morris

April 2012

Rangatira by Paula Morris is based on a true story and is set in Auckland, June 1886. Ngati Wai chief Paratene Te Manu spends long sessions, over three long days, having his portrait painted by the Bohemian painter Gottfried Lindauer. Hearing of Lindauer's planned trip to England reminds him of his own journey there, twenty years earlier, with a party of northern rangatira. As he sits for Lindauer, Paratene retreats deeper and deeper into the past, from the triumphs in London and their meetings with royalty to the disintegration of the visit into poverty, mistrust, and humiliation.

Margie Thomson wrote in Canvas, 'Morris' research is both thorough and thoughtful . . . With its light, often wry tone, much of the story-telling is amusing, albeit desperately poignant.'

Nicholas Reid wrote in New Zealand Books, 'An extraordinary literary achievement and probably the best of recent New Zealand historical novels.'

Other links
 

 


Review of reviews



The Prince of Soul and the Lighthouse by Fredrik Brounéus

May 2012

This is the first release from new publisher on the block Steam Press. The novel is Swedish author Fredrik Brounéus’s first to be published in English (his previous two publications being in his native Swedish). The Prince of Soul and the Lighthouse is a crossover story about George Larson, 18, who finds out that he has to ‘save the world’ by switching off a very important lighthouse. In order to fulfil this mission he is propelled into a hair-raising road trip around New Zealand, all the while being pursued by parties with nefarious intentions in respect of the said lighthouse.

• The Southland Times’s Jillian Allison-Aitken said it was ‘a lot of fun and…[she] thoroughly enjoyed it’ here .
• Radio NZ’s review thought it had ‘great characters... laugh out loud material... just brilliant’
• Although having some initial misgivings, Critic deemed that “this tale is quirky, lovable and the best sort of escapism.
• Blog reviews at Just One More Page, Helen Lowe's website, and Fiction for a New Age all enjoyed the book.
• Victoria Spence reviewed the book in the May issue of Metro, saying ‘Brounéus nails his characters’ and ‘The narrator’s language is pitch perfect and the story runs smoothly to a moving resolution’. (print edition only)
The Sunday Star-Times praised The Prince of Soul, proclaiming that “Swedish he may be, but Brounéus comes perilously close to having written the great New Zealand visionary fiction novel... a rollicking adventure – humorous and as exciting as an Indiana Jones escapade”. (Unavailable online)



Review of reviews



Young Adult section of the NZ Post children’s book awards

various

Want to formulate your winners’ list for the NZ Post Children’s Book Awards next week, but somehow forgot to read all the books? Well, here is your chance! This is a collection of reviews for the Young Adult Fiction nominees.

The Bridge
, by Jane Higgins (Text Publishing Company)

The city is at war in this fantastic post-apocalyptic vision from Cantabrian Jane Higgins. Start your journey by looking at the book trailer. Then here are some reviews:

  • Junior Bookseller and Publisher commented on The Bridge when it won the Text Prize for Young Adult and Children’s Writing in 2010.
  • Leanne Hall from Readings bookstore in Melbourne says The Bridge is ‘one of those rare books that manages to be layered and thought-provoking, as well as action-packed and entertaining’. 
  • And to find a bit more out about the author Jane Higgins, see this feature from the Sunday Star-Times, written by Kim Knight.

Dirt Bomb, by Fleur Beale (Random House New Zealand)

Dirt Bomb tells the story of Jake and his mates, and their summer project – getting an old bomb to drive another day.

Calling the Gods, by Jack Lasenby (HarperCollins Publishers)

Calling the Gods is another post-apocalyptic drama, with a strong central female character helping to lead a group of her friends and family to safety shortly before her town self-destructs through internal squabbling.

  • Bob Docherty enjoys this on his blog review, while BookieMonster thought it could do with a heavier edit.
  • National Library blog Create Readers calls it a ‘story of survival, hope, courage and hardship’.
  • The Booksellers blog invited a teenager to comment on each YA finalist, and young reviewer Aleisha Cotterill echoed the concerns of BookieMonster.

Yes, by Deborah Burnside (HarperCollins Publishers)

A story based around the personal trials and tribulations of a group of boys trying to get a project together for the ‘Young Enterprise Scheme’, which many schools in New Zealand participate in as part of their Economics programme.

  • On the Booksellers blog, author Gillian Torckler says ‘This is a story that almost any teenage reader could associate with’.
  • The Book Chatter blogger says ‘The author, Deborah Burnside has expertly managed to pull what can only be described as a tough and compelling story into a coherent and heart warming tale of adversity, struggle, self discovery and success.’
  • Linda Hall posted a positive review in The Northern Advocate

Sacrifice, by Joanna Orwin (HarperCollins Publishers)
A talented young Maori boy hopes to be chosen to be a Traveller – to search the rest of New Zealand for survivors of the series of tsunamis and volcanoes that has ruined most of the land.
- Fellow YA fantasy writer Helen Lowe blogs about Sacrifice while mid-book here
- Reviewer and children’s books expert Trevor Agnew calls Sacrifice ‘a mature, thought-provoking novel.’
- Ann Packer reviews Sacrifice for The Listener here – ‘stunningly satisfying’. []


Review of reviews



From Under the Overcoat by Sue Orr

Sue Orr

2011 Buddle Findlay Scholar Sue Orr’s most recent collection of stories was published in February, with Fiona Kidman launching it, saying, “Sue Orr’s stories have that mesmerising quality that makes the reader race on, hoping they will never end, yet desperate to find out what happens next.”

- Kelly Ana Morey reviewed it for the NZ Herald here
- Alison Stedman blogs about it at Halfway Down the Stairs ‘We All Fall Down’
- An interesting point of view from Clare McIntosh for the Sunday Star Times
- Let the literary references stay in the background, and read the writing for what it is, says Nicholas Reid in The Listener
- Q & A with the author herself in the Sunday Star Times
- Finally, Mary McCallum reviews it on ‘Nine to Noon’

Other interesting links

Sue Orr has a Book Council Writer's File here. From Under the Overcoat is a finalist for the 2012 New Zealand Post Award for Fiction. The winners will be announced on Wednesday 1 August.
 


Review of reviews



Risk by C.K. Stead

October 2012

Recently divorced New Zealander Sam Nola returns to London, where he spent two years in his early twenties. It is early 2003, and on both sides of the Atlantic the case for military intervention in Iraq is being made – or fabricated.

But life for Sam has never been better: a grown-up, half-French daughter from a long ago affair has recently got in touch, and he has walked into a lucrative role in the booming banking sector. It is only when he learns of the deaths of two friends within a week that intrigue begins to intrude on his contentment, that life begins to feel a little more precarious.

“Risk is a confident, briskly paced and practical account of one man’s self-rescue, but it is a personal odyssey that is also a study of modern society on the run.”

  • The NZ Listener review of Risk by John McCrystal (subscribers only):

“For evil to triumph, it is necessary only for good people to do nothing. There can be no denying the moral decline of the Western empire over the past two decades when you see it written down: it all happened while most of us looked the other way. CK Stead’s latest novel is set against this background.”

“The indefatigable C.K. Stead (who turns 80 next Wednesday) covers a lot of ground in his latest novel, both geographically and thematically.”

“Set against the gathering storms of the last decade, CK Stead's Risk is a wonderful, slow-burning novel.”


Other links of interest
 

  • Read the prologue from Risk
  • C. K. Stead talks about his new novel, Risk on Radio NZ
  • You Tube interview with C.K. Stead at the Frankfurt Book Fair
  • C. K. Stead talks about Risk on 95Bfm radi

Review of reviews



Anticipation by Tanya Moir

June 2013

Anticipation is Tanya Moir's second novel and follows her successful debut, La Rochelle's Road. Anticipation is a rich and darkly funny novel about family history and the risk and power of knowledge. Here's what readers and reviewers have been saying about the novel:
 

Further excerpted reviews as found on the Random House profile for Anticipation:

'had me hooked from page one . . . clever, funny, disturbing and dark . . . a highly skilled writer hitting her strides' - Australian Woman's Weekly

'beguiling' - Paul Little, North & South

'A wicked pleasure and no mistake.' - Mike Fallow, Southland Times

'When [novels] are written as well as this one is, with as much energy and style, the result is a rare treat . . . Tanya Moir weaves a story as rich, intricate and colourful as a tapestry. It is briskly told and is deeply, satisfyingly good . . . Moir is clearly a New Zealand writer to watch.' - Joan Curry, Dominion Post Weekend

'It is superbly written . . . This is a novel to savour and an author to watch.' - Elizabeth Winter, Saturday Express

Other interesting links:

 




Review of reviews



The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton

August 2013

Eleanor Catton’s second novel, The Luminaries, soared to stratospheric heights, making the 2013 Man Booker long list even before it was officially published. The novel advanced to what has been called ‘the best Booker shortlist in a decade’, and was widely reviewed, both locally and internationally. While the critical reception has been very positive, some reviews have taken a negative stance on aspects of the novel, leading to a Twitter conversation about the very nature of reviewing itself. Catton herself joined the conversation and tweeted: ‘Destruction is much easier than creation. a [sic] good review creates more than it destructs’.

  • The Telegraph’s Lucy Daniel praises the novel, saying ‘Just as the market seems saturated with Victoriana, along comes Catton and proves herself as entertaining a mistress of plot and pacing as Sarah Waters.’
  • Kirsty Gunn’s review in The Guardian weighs up The Luminaries against Catton’s first novel, The Rehearsal. For Gunn, The Luminaries makes ‘us consider so carefully whether we want a story with emotion and heart or an intellectual idea about the novel in the disguise of historical fiction … There lies the real triumph of Catton's remarkable book.’
  • The Independent’s Simmy Richmond admires The Luminaries’ complexity and ‘sheer rip-roaring readability’ and writes it’s ‘the type of novel that you will devour only to discover that you can't find anything of equal scope and excitement to read once you have finished.’
  • Guy Somerset from The Listener (subscribers only) is more critical, saying The Luminaries ‘is a novel that so dazzles you with its accomplishments and ambitions that it’s easy to be distracted from its lack of ambition where it really matters.’
  • Lesley McDowell reviews what he calls ‘Eleanor Catton’s expansive, and in many places, quite superb, new work’ for The Scotsman.
  • CK Stead reviews for The Financial Times: ‘My difficulty is similar to one I have with much of Peter Carey’s work (and Catton is quite his equal): that it doesn’t allow me to forget, even for a moment, that this is fiction – the novel as game, played brilliantly, but at such length I couldn’t entirely overcome that impatience.’
  • Eileen Battersby, in her glowing review for The Irish Times, says, ‘Her second novel is a traditional narrative drawing on the Victorian notion of mystery pulsing at the heart of a tale shaped by the stars and fate’s hand; it is told well, and at length, reducing the reader to an awestruck follower.’
  • Paula Green for the NZ Herald says: ‘Every now and then you get to read a novel that elevates you far beyond the bric-a-brac of everyday routine, takes you apart, reassembles you, and leaves you feeling as though you have been on holiday with a genius.'
  • Jane Stafford finds The Luminaries extraordinary in her review for New Zealand Books (subscribers only). She says, 'Above all, despite the length of the work, its complexity and the range of its intellectual allusiveness, it is the writing, elegant, confident, poetic in the best sense, the sense that drives rather than clogs the prose, that is the engine of The Luminaries. Catton writes with her ear as well as her intellect; her sentences have a graceful balance and the tone of her narration, sustained throughout the length of the novel, is both cool and tender.'
  • Reviews on Good Reads have been strongly positive

Other links of interest:



 

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