Superlatives is where we talk about what we’re currently enjoying, high-school style. This week, we’ve selected our favorite passages from The Luminaries, a new novel by Eleanor Catton.

Best Reason to Practice Your Handwriting 
“Each item of business was described in the expansive, flourishing script that Balfour associated, in his mind, with a man who could afford to waste his ink on curlicues.”

Best Description of Worst Person Ever
“He was a private hedonist, perennially wrapped in the cocoon of his own senses, mindful, always, of the things he already possessed, and the things he had yet to gain; his subjectivity was comprehensive, and complete.”

Most Tragic Depiction of Solitude
“Even friendship would have seemed to Pritchard a feast behind a pane of glass; even the smallest charity would have wet his lip, and left him wanting.”

Best Faking of Nonchalance
“Lydia Wells always seemed to arrange herself in postures of luxury, so that she might be startled out of them, laughing, when someone approached.”

Most Discomfiting Example of Memory Loss
“He could not remember boarding a ship, and nor could he remember a shipwreck—though he seemed to recall being washed up on the beach, coughing seawater, both arms wrapped around a cask of salt beef.”


The Luminaries, by Eleanor Catton, is available now from Little Brown and Company.