The Luminaries (2013), winner of the Booker Prize, by Eleanor Catton was bought as background reading for my winter trip to New Zealand. I had heard of it, but didn't know much about, aside from the fact that it takes place in the gold fields of the South Island of New Zealand at the turn of the 19th century. I was pleasantly surprised about how much I enjoyed it. It seems to have rubbed some readers the wrong way; given some of the responses to the novel I have seen on book reviewing sites. That being said, I enjoyed the "Dickensian" approach to the story: multiple major characters, long character descriptions, long-winded soliloquies, period language, and digression from the main story. Perhaps, it's greatest aspect can also be considered "Dickensian": the plot. It is a literary mystery that sped toward it's conclusion. There were heroes and villains, tragedies and joys, a courtroom drama, and moments of suspenseful action. My lack of familiarity with astrology and star signs caused me to miss the fact that each chapter is half as long as the predecessor (each assigned one of the 12 star signs) and other devices throughout. But the mystery and the descriptions of time and place as well as the unfolding stories of background characters made this a pleasant dash through more than 800 pages. I suspect this will be a hard read to top as best book (so early in the year as well). It was impressively researched for period details of a mystery story told in flashback-the unfolding of the plot was masterful. That being said, the ending had me trying to piece the story together since it didn't unfold in a simple linear manner-the reader must piece together the details from earlier in the story to gain a full understanding of what events transpired and I must admit that there are still some aspects of the story that I am trying to get straight in my head.