Eleanor Catton, The Luminaries – TLS
“I came because of the rushes . . . . Everyone says there’s more gold in a camp than there is in the ground. I thought I’d be a camp follower.” With these words, Anna Wetherell, standing alone on a dock in New Zealand, explains herself to an approaching stranger. “I’ve just come to start over.” She has made her crossing on the Fortunate Wind and met a boy also hoping to make his fortune by prospecting in the glittering ground around Hokitika. The two of them watch as an albatross circles overhead: a lucky omen, the boy tells her. This is the beginning of Anna’s story, but we are more than three-quarters of the way through Eleanor Catton’s new novel,The Luminaries, when we learn of these events, seeing afresh a woman who has until now been known as “the whore”, and a boy who has indeed become the town’s richest man before disappearing without trace.