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The Luminist by David Rocklin

Thursday, October 20, 2011
Photography comprises the bright,
tensile thread in the sweep of The Luminist,
drawing tight a narrative that shifts between the prejudices and passions of Victorian England and those of colonial Ceylon. It binds the destinies of Catherine Colebrook, the proper wife of a fading diplomat, who rebels against every convention to chase the romance of science through her lens, and Eligius, an Indian teenager thrust into servitude after his father is killed demanding native rights.
The Luminist is a weave of legend and history,
science and art, politics and domesticity that are symphonic themes in the main title, the story of an enduring and forbidden friendship. Catherine and Eligius must each struggle with internal forces that inspire them and societal pressures that command them. Rocklin’s is a bold landscape, against which an intimate drama is poignantly played out. Just in this way, our minds recall in every detail the photo snapped at the moment of pain, while all the lovely scenes seem to run together.

Goodreads Summary

Catherine, one of the main characters, is eerily obsessed with the possibilities of photography.  She takes it a little too far, but this quality serves to make the novel even more interesting.  Eligius is employed as a servant and quickly becomes Catherine's assistant.  He facilitates her obsession.

In the midst of political strife and constant problems, Catherine and Eligius develop a deep bond.  Eligius is a calm, inspiring presence to Catherine while she almost acts as a mother to him.  Eligius, however, is in an odd situation.  The reader will quickly find out he is not wanted among his own people or the British, making his connection to Catherine all the more appealing.  The reader will learn more about his situation and the situation of the native people throughout this novel. 

This book will capture and hold the reader's interest.  The events are unusual, slow in some places while fast in others as needed.  This book is recommended to adults.

4 Stars

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