It is 1866, and young Walter Moody has come to make his fortune upon the New Zealand goldfields. On the stormy night of his arrival, he stumbles across a tense gathering of twelve local men who have met in secret to discuss a series of unexplained events: A wealthy man has vanished, a prostitute has tried to end her life, and an enormous fortune has been discovered in the home of a luckless drunk. Moody is soon drawn into the mystery: a network of fates and fortunes that is as complex and exquisitely
ornate as the night sky.
Eleanor Catton (born 1985) is a New Zealand author. Catton was born in Canada while her father, a New Zealand graduate, was completing a doctorate at the University of Western Ontario. She lived in Yorkshire until the age of 13, before her family settled in Canterbury, New Zealand. She studied English at the University of Canterbury, and completed a Master's in Creative Writing at The Institute of Modern Letters, Victoria University of Wellington.
New Zealand, a man going there to make his fortune. I am not sure why I wanted to read this book so badly as the only word in the synopsis that piqued my interest was mystery. Still every time entering the bookstore I picked up the book so I finally gave in, bought it and really enjoyed it.
The story starts halfway with the scene as described in the synopsis. Moody stumbling into a bar and into a mystery. Slowly all the people involved get to tell their part of the story. With a lot of people involved this is sometimes a bit confusing. Still they do have their own characteristics in telling and their own spot on the story and eventually I was able to put them in the right spots. I cannot say I really connected to any of them. All of them had their interesting parts but none of them really took the stage.
There were two other things though that really made this book for me. One was the atmosphere. I could totally see this little rural place, a lot of man and few woman. Bars, sand, horses, carts and a lot of dust if it was not raining. Second.. the puzzle. It is clear something has happened and there are so many parameters. Every single one of the involved people gives a different view and a different piece of the puzzle and I totally loved puzzling along. I did catch up on some things early on in the book but it took a long time to get it confirmed making me doubt often enough to keep it interesting.
Still I can imagine this book is not for everyone. It is a big one and not fast paced.
Author: Eleanor Catton
Publisher: Granta Books
Granta Books: Paperback