Deconstructing The Luminaries: a timeline

As the title implies, this post is intended for those who have read Eleanor Catton’s novel The Luminaries as it contains significant spoilers.

If you haven’t read the novel, try this review

Feb 1839 – the Sook warehouse in Kwangchow, China is raided, opium is found hidden in tea cartons and the elder Sook is executed; Sook Yongchen turns to Carver for help;

pre 1865 – After winning at the wheel in Lydia’s gambling establishment, Crosbie Wells accepts her hand in marriage instead of the payout money – which Lydia doesn’t have and never thought she would need since the wheel is crooked. Crosbie discovers a fortune in gold in the  highland gold field of Dunstan – £ 4000 (about $300,000 in today’s money)

1853 – Ah Sook arrives at Port Phillip, Australia, is robbed of all his money, tries to contact Carver, is beaten by Jeremy Shepard, takes refuge, is found by a buck-toothed woman -Margaret Shepard, given opium, begins to recover, goes to kill Carver, instead comes upon Jeremy Shepard, Margaret manages to save Sook by killing her husband; Sook is tried but found not guilty when Margaret testifies Jeremy killed himself; Carver is arrested for smuggling and sent to Cuckatoo Island for 10 years, hard labour;

July 1864 – Sook learns the released convict, Carver, has sailed to Victoria, Australia to look for gold

Jan. 18, 1865 – Carver meets Pritchard in Hokitika, NZ and offers to sell him opium, which he smuggles in, in tea cans;

April 27, 1865 – Anna Wetherell and Emery Staines meet briefly on their ship and arrive separately in Dunedin. Lydia Wells takes Anna under her wing. Lydia ascertains that the two, Anna and Staines- share the same birthday

Carver, posing as Frances Wells, starts a long con on Lauderback, threatening Lauderback that someone thinks he- Lauderback- was an associate of a man called Carver who committed a murder and this someone is out to take revenge on Lauderback. As a result, Carver/Francis Wells gets a position on the crew of Lauderback’s Godspeed. Carver and Lydia start shipping dresses to Melbourne, Australia in Lauderback’s name, ostensibly to be fashionably altered. Since Lauderback has been having an affair with Lydia Wells, this is a reasonable ruse.

May 11, 1865 – Crosbie discovers that the fortune he left in the safe at his wife Lydia’s is gone along with his papers and knows she has stolen them;
-May 12, 1865 – Lydia burns the morning paper so that Crosbie will not learn of the arrival of the steamer Active in port along with someone Crosbie has been waiting 12 years to see. This seems to be Lauderback who has previously always come when Crosbie was away. (Lauderback has come to figure out who is shipping in his name);
-a bottle of laudanum arrives and finds its way surreptitiously into Crosbie’s booze at Lydia’s hands;
-Carver, posing as Francis Wells, tells Lauderback he has cuckolded his ‘brother’ Crosbie Wells and forces him to sign over the Godspeed to him;
-Lydia prepares for a party for ‘gentleman with naval connections’ in her home/gambling house ;
-Staines spends the afternoon watching over a trunk labelled with Lauderback’s name, due to sail on the Godspeed, ostensibly for a man named Wells, but actually Carver;
-A Chinese man is looking for an ex-con who did time on Cuckatoo Island, i e, Carver:

-in the evening Crosbie Wells escapes Carver’s attack cutting Carver’s face in a c-shape from eye to mouth, while Anna’ sleeps’ nearby in Crosbie’s bed (the origin of her addiction?);
-Crosbie flees to the docks, discovers Carver’s efforts to ship a trunk to Hokitika in Lauderback’s name, diverts it and takes passage to Hokitika;
-the Godspeed leaves without the wounded Carver, still under Phillip’s command because Carver has not yet claimed ownership.
June 14, 1865 – the Godspeed returns to port in Dunedin and newly scarred Carver takes over as owner/captain and sails to Hokitika

June 18, 1865 – Staines meets Crosbie Wells in Hokitika, tells him about watching the trunk for Carver and the fact Carver is his partner, having stood him £ 8 for supplies; Staines cashes Crosbie’s nugget at the bank for him and is rewarded;
Carver begins his search for Crosbie Wells and for the missing trunk in Hokitika by placing an ad in the name of F. Crosbie Wells;
Anna and Staines are surprised and delighted to meet. (See cosmic twins theory in comments.)

July 28, 1865 – George Shepard (governor of the gaol, the late Jeremy’s brother and now Margaret’s husband) sees Sook Yongsheng; Anna, pregnant with Crosbie’s child and exiled by Lydia, arrives on the Godspeed and is taken under the wing of Clinch, who runs the Gridiron Hotel; she doesn’t know Crosbie is living an hour outside town; she is actually working for Mannering; a trunk full of silk dresses is salvaged from the wreck of the Titania and Anna buys them from the salvagers.
-Staines buys the Gridiron Hotel from Mannering
-Staines tells Anna Crosbie is in Hokitika

Anna begins plying her new trade as a prostitute and taking opium at Sook’s place in Chinatown in Kanniere

Sept 20, 1865 – Ah Quee having discovered the stash of gold in Anna’s dresses while she slept off her opium, removes the last it, except for that in the orange dress, which she never wears while working; (previously -Ah Quee smelts all this gold, stamps it with the name Aurora, Staines’ claim, which was initially salted by Mannering and is actually worthless; Ah Quee expects his boss to bank it and pay him his paltry share: Staines takes it instead and buries it on Maori land)

Oct 11, 1865 – Anna tells Crosbie’s story to Staines; Anna loses her unborn child having suffered a blow, ostensibly from Carver who did hit her, but the serious injury was caused by his horse rearing; she gives the impression Carver was the child’s father and accuses him of killing her child;  Crosbie, at Staines’ instruction, draws up a gift of deed assigning half the fortune in gold to Anna and signs it, but Staines does not, having fallen asleep;
Crosbie (p.673)- digs up the gold bars and stashes them in his home;

Jan 12, 1866 – Lauderback’s shipping container, containing his books, letters and the deed of ‘sale’ of the sailing ship Godspeed to Carver arrives on the Virtue but is misdirected and does not arrive at Balfour’s office;

Tauwhare betrays Crosbie Wells to Carver, telling him where Crosbie lives

Jan 14, 1866 – Wearing her orange dress, Anna goes to Staines’ home for the night; while he is sleeping, she goes back to her room at the Gridiron Hotel to take opium, intending to return to Staines;
-while she is gone Staines wakes up, goes out, falls and hits his head;
-extremely high, Anna falls, hits her head and ends up collapsed on Christchurch Rd: -Carver uncorks a phial of opium (again see cosmic twin theory in comments); Crosbie drinks half a phial of opium on top of a good deal of alcohol;
-after finding the stash of gold bars in Crosbie’s cabin, Carver puts a piece of paper in Crosbie’s stove; next he needs to alert the widow, Lydia to claim it;
-Lauderback arrives from his trek over the alps to find his half-brother, Crosbie dead; -Lauderback finds Anna lying on the road; unconscious Anna is put in jail;
-Staines, also suffering concussion, falls on Gibson Quay and is nailed into a shipping crate;
-eventually Tauwhare reports having seen Lauderback and his 2 men arrive at Crosbie’s cabin on this day, after another man has also visited;

Jan 15/16, 1866 – Annie gets bail, leaves jail and she and Gascoigne remove the gold from the orange dress and hide it under his bed; Crosbie is buried by Devlin; Nillsen discovers the fortune in gold bars  after being hired to clear the dead man’s cabin and gets paid £400;
-Balfour tells Lauderback his container has not yet arrived instead of telling him it is lost; -Lauderback discovers that he ‘sold’ Godspeed to Francis Carver, not Crosbie Wells; previously he had thought that Carver (Francis Wells) was Crosbie’s half brother, extorting Godspeed as retribution for Lauderback’s cuckolding Crosbie; Lauderback knows now that he has been conned by Lydia, Wells’ widow, and Carver.

Jan 17 – Lydia arrives and makes a claim on the fortune at the bank; Frost tells Mannering the fortune was stolen; Mannering and Frost visit Ah Quee to force the truth from him; Balfour visits Lowenthal on the Sabbath;
Clinch buys Crosbie’s property and gives Frost £30 finder’s fee; Lydia arrives in Hokitika and lays claim to the fortune;

Jan 17, 1866 – Pritchard confronts Anna about the opium she took on Jan 14th. her gun goes off and Staines, now an opium addict, hiding behind the drapes is shot (or locked in a crate on board ship, he suffers a bullet wound thus preventing injury to Anna -cosmic twin theory); Gascoigne agrees to bring Anna to meet Lydia, but becomes angry when Anna asks him for help to pay her rent from the gold found in her orange dress and in G’s keeping, so does not; Lydia goes and gets Anna and takes her under her wing again; Staines gets away unseen but gravely wounded;

Jan 27, 1866 – Walter Moody sees a bloody apparition start up at him from a container, saying Magdalena; Moody arrives in Hokitika, but the ship he was on has to remain anchored beyond the reef because of bad weather; Moody meets the 12 worthies in the smoking room of the Crown Hotel and listens to their stories, which are bits and pieces, scrambled and misunderstood of the above events:
-the Godspeed is wrecked;

Feb 18, 1866 – Gascoinge advises Carver how to claim insurance for the wrecked Godspeed;  Lydia holds a seance to summon Staines’s ghost and instead “speaks” in Cantonese Sook’s words vowing revenge on Carver for causing his father’s execution; Ah Sook learns Carver is in Hokitika and forms a plan to kill him; Shepard writes a letter to the newspaper admitting he has used private money to build the new jail and lies that it was a gift from Nillsen; Lauderbank’s trunk is delivered to Moody by mistake and Moody learns Crosbie was Lauderback’s half-brother;

Mar 20, 1866 – Devlin talks to Anna while Lydia is out and shows her the unsigned deed of gift, assigning Anna half the fortune; Anna forges Staines signature despite the fact she is illiterate; Ah Sook buys a gun and has it loaded; Shepard puts out a warrant for Ah Sook’s arrest; Ah Quee is mistaken for Ah Sook and attacked in town: Mannering rescues him; Sook seeks refuge with Margaret Shepard who eventually betrays him; Shepard shoots Sook: Staines turns up and is treated for his wounds and is imprisoned beside Anna who is also back there;

April 27, 1866 – Anna’s trial for attempted suicide, public intoxication and grievous assault on Staines begins -Walter Moody for the defense; during Lauderback’s testimony, Carver is arrested for fraud against Lauderback when Crosbie’s signature on the Godspeed’s bill of sale is proven to be forged; Carver is murdered by Tauwhare while being transported to jail; Staines’ testimony that he was hiding in Anna’s room, high on her opium when he was accidentally shot, clears Anna of the most serious charge; Anna is acquitted of all charges;

Staines, charged with falsification of a report, embezzlement of ore and dereliction of duty, pleads guilty to all charges, is found guilty and sentenced to nine months hard labour.

The luminaries look forward to a loving life together in nine months.

If you find errors or can add detail, please leave a comment. I intend to keep revising as needed.