Welcome Book Clubbers! We’re Discussing 2 Big Books This Month …

Okay, so I set myself an enormous challenge last month. For this month’s book club, I was going to discuss the Booker Prize winning The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton and The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert. Have you seen the size of those two books? Let me tell you, they would inflict some serious damage if you dropped them on your toes! So how did I do? Well, you’ll have to watch the video to find out …


For those of you who didn’t see my first monthly book club video last month, you can take a peek here. For those who did, welcome back! It was so nice to receive so many lovely comments on last month’s video. It felt like a real book club, which is just how I was hoping it might be.

I’ve also taken on board some suggestions, and suggestion are always very welcome, and I’ve specifically discussed what I liked and didn’t like about the books, as well as posing some particular questions or areas where you might like to focus your conversation in your book club. I hope you think it’s an improvement.

As always, I would love for you to leave your comments below and let me know what you thought of the books, or whether you might consider reading them now. And, at the end of the video, I’ve mentioned which books I’m going to be reading this month, so I hope some of you join me in reading them too. See you in the comments!


  1. Hi Natasha,
    Thanks for this – I loved your review of The Signature of All Things. I was very similar to you – wasn’t a fan of Eat, Pray, Love and so wasn’t sure what to expect of Gilbert’s new novel. However, I absolutely loved it and was astounded by her narrative control and the research that went into the book – I also loved that the bulk of the story was about a woman in her late middle-age (so many heroines are young, and beautiful, like you mention). Totally agreed with you about the event in Tahiti… I wasn’t convinced by it at all either, and in fact struggled with the way the text seemed to suggest it was a spiritual encounter… when he still had a family he had to return to. Anyway. Apart from that, it was great. Really looking forward to your next review.

    • Thanks for your comments Julia. Wasn’t it a great book? I think it’s now one of my favourites and I’m so glad I didn’t dismiss it given that I hadn’t loved Eat, Pray, Love

      I was so surprised by the Tahiti event – Elizabeth Gilbert had had such a great command of her characters and her narrative until that point and I felt it just didn’t quite ring true for Alma. I couldn’t understand why it was so important to Alma’s character development to have that happen. Besides that – and once I’d gotten over the shock! – I think Alma is one of my favourite fictional characters.

      I look forward to hearing from you in next month’s Book Chat!

  2. Hi Natasha,

    You’ve definitely whet my appetite for The Signature of All Things. I bought Eat Love Pray online this morning as I felt I needed to know what all the hype was about it. I’ll give it a go regardless of my now tainted expectation of it. I also bought The Poisonwood Bible on the strength of you referencing it in one of your classes, which stirred my interest to read it.
    You have made me feel better about my slow effort with The Luminaries. (I am only a quarter of the way through.) I totally agree with you on all points, just when I feel like giving up on it, it gets interesting again. I sometimes feel I get a bit lost in the heavy descriptions but then it filters out again and I’m back on board. The ‘hook’ has definitely worked on me, I’m desperate to know what Walter Moody saw on the Godspeed.
    I’ve made it my challenge to finish it, so I can move on to the other books I am desperate to get immersed in without feeling I have a job half finished.
    I very much enjoy your book club, you look the part, you speak articulately and I look forward to next months edition.
    Thanks for sharing.

    • Well it seems my response to The Luminaries so far is quite common; a few people on Twitter have also said that they felt the same. I do feel it could go either way at this point, as if she’s on the verge of pulling off something astonishing, or else the story is going to get lost under its own weight. So it will be interesting to see what I think by next month.
      You will love The Signature of All Things and The Poisonwood Bible, both are on my list of fave books. Happy reading! And thanks for your feedback about the video.

  3. I really feel like you’re talking to me when you do these. I nearly asked you a question and then I remembered it was a video…

    I have read the Luminaries, and it took me about 100 pages to get hooked but then suddenly I WAS IN AND I COULDN’T GET OUT. I ignored my family a little on Christmas so that I could keep reading it. It had this Hardy-esque social game element to it, and I loved puzzling it out.

    Bought Signature of all things on the weekend after Inga Simpson recommended it, so I am really looking forward to reading it now. I might join you in reading The Wild Girl first though because I’m reading Kate Forsyth’s previous novel, Bitter Greens, right now and LOVING it. Have you read it?

    • Ha! I can just imagine you talking to your computer screen! Yes The Luminaries is a tricky book ins’t it? Just when you think you should give up, you get sucked in. My attention has certainly picked up in the last few chapters. I’m still wondering how she’s going to pull it all off though.

      You’ll love Signature of All Things – let me know what you think when you’ve read it. And no, I haven’t read Bitter Greens but I’ve heard such good things about it. I loved the premise of The Wild Girl so I thought I’d start with that. Hope you join me next month!

  4. I’m so overwhelmed by the size of The Luminaries that I haven’t picked it up yet, even though I bought it months ago. I think I need a few days to dedicate to reading it so I can just plough through. I’m excited you’re doing The Wild Girl & Becoming a Writer next, both are on my To Read shelf so I shall join you in the reading of them 🙂 x

    • Excellent Mel, I’m so glad you’ll be joining in this month’s reading. I look forward to what you have to say about both books. And yes, I think The Luminaries is best digested, especially at the start, in a few large chunks. By about halfway through, it’s easier to read it in smaller sections.

  5. Trudy

    Like you, I enjoyed Alma’s character. She was certainly unconventional for her time, but Gilbert created a believable background and setting for her development, so as a reader, I accepted her easily. Alma admires the dignity and intelligence of of mosses; they’re two of the qualities I admired in her. As magical as Tahiti is, I admit to glazing over from time to time through this section, and similarly, was a little surprised at her encounter in the cave. I’ve read a review that alluded to the symbolism of ‘drawing new breath through him’ indicating a new era for her. Maybe I was too stunned to consider that idea, but I do tend to be a bit slow with symbols!

    • Thanks for your comments Trudy and for quoting that line from one of the reviews of the book. The quote made me realise what irked me about that scene; because of how strong and independent Alma had been throughout, I wanted her to draw new breath through herself, rather than through a man who didn’t have any real empathy for anyone other than himself. Maybe I’m being too harsh though! Like you, I was a little stunned with the whole scene.

  6. Anne Jones

    Hi Natasha
    I’m struggling through The Luminaries at the moment. I’m about a third of the way through and teetering on the verge of giving up on it (but I won’t now). It’s yet to really hook me although there are moments here and there and clues scattered about that are potentially interesting. One thing I’ve noticed is that none of the characters is particularly likeable. Also, the landscape seems generally miserable and depressing. This book is the next one for my book club so it will be interesting to hear everyone’s comments when we meet. You’ve piqued my curiosity about The Signature of All Things so I’ll definitely get hold of that book. It will be good to compare it to The Luminaries. Thanks for your book club.

    • Hi Anne, I teetered at exactly that same point. And you’re right about the characters; I certainly wasn’t able to become fully engaged with any of them, even by the end of the book. Of the two, I think The Signature of All Things is the better book. Let me know what you think when you get to the end of The Luminaries.

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