Discussion topics for each book will be posted here. Please check back the week prior to each meeting for book club questions — no spoilers here!
|Topics of Discussion - The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton|1. How did you like the book, and were you able to keep the characters straight by the end of the novel?
2. At the start of the book Walter Moody stumbles across a tense meeting between twelve local men and is entrusted with their secrets. What do you make of these men? Do they tell Walter the whole truth, or are their stories distorted by external loyalties, self-interest and their individual character traits?
3. Other than providing a vehicle for the telling of the backstory, did Walter Moody serve any other purpose in the book?
4. The Luminaries is set in New Zealand during the nineteenth century. How does Catton give you a sense of the story taking place in a different era?
5. Astrology is a prominent theme in the book. At the start of each chapter, a chart depicting the twelve men’s star signs and an epitaph forewarns the reader of ensuing events.
From Wikipedia: "Astrology consists of several pseudoscientific systems of divination based on the premise that there is a relationship between astronomical phenomena and events in the human world. Many cultures have attached importance to astronomical events, and the Indians, Chinese, and Mayans developed elaborate systems for predicting terrestrial events from celestial observations. In the West, astrology most often consists of a system of horoscopes purporting to explain aspects of a person's personality and predict future events in their life based on the positions of the sun, moon, and other celestial objects at the time of their birth. The majority of professional astrologers rely on such systems."
To what extent are the characters determined by their star signs and the complementary planetary movements?
6. Following the court scene, do you feel that each character has received their just desserts? Were any characters let off lightly or unjustly punished, and if so why?
7. Was the novel’s ending a shock or inevitable? And how does the outcome change your opinion of free will and determinism?
8. Do you believe that Staines and Anna are supernaturally connected? Or was their testimony in the courtroom the real truth?
9. Did you have any unresolved questions at the end of the book?
- How did Anna get the black eye & swollen temple the night of the 14th when she was passed out on the Christchurch road?
- Was the opium Anna took on the 14th poisoned? If so, by whom?
- How did Emery Staines get into the crate on the Godspeed (assuming that it was Staines that Moody found in the hold) after he (Staines) was shot? (Also, if Staines was hiding behind the drapery in Anna’s room when he was shot, why didn’t Gascoigne, Anna & Pritchard see a bullet hole through the drape?)
10. Did you notice the incredibly mathematical structure of this book? The first chapter is the longest, the second is half as long, the third half as long as the second, etc. Each of the novel's 12 parts decreases in length over the course of the book to mimic the moon waning through its lunar cycle (also indicated by the cover of the book).