Study Guide

The Luminaries Tough-o-Meter

By Eleanor Catton

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(5) Base Camp

Given the book's length, you'll be relieved to know that Catton's prose is very readable and flies right by. That said, it is written in the style of a Victorian sensation novel, so you're dealing with an olderish writing style and some older genre conventions that might seem unfamiliar. Don't worry intrepid Shmoopers—it's certainly nothing you can't handle.

Still, be warned: the book jumps around in time. A lot. And then there's the whole crazy complex astrology-infused structure that mimics the lunar cycle and pairs characters with a host of zodiac signs and planets. So unless you've been keeping up with Miss Cleo all these years (or if you are, in fact, Miss Cleo herself), you're going to have to pay close attention to these parts.

The whole astrological structure is pretty important to understanding the book's portrayal of relationships, writing, and communication, so while you can still enjoy the book without thinking too much about signs and planets, it's a lot more fun if you're paying close attention to what she's doing with that structure—we'll help you along if you need a little help.

So, for it's "more than meets the eye" complexity, we'd say this one's at the high end of base camp. Are you ready for the trek?

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