Lighting | Eleanor Caton has recently updated her story with a female voice

In 186666 there were very few and far between women in New Zealand’s gold rush, Eleanor Catton’s BBC adaptation for her own best seller, The Luminary.

As one character shows, there are a few women in town who know them all by name – and everyone knows that Anna Weatherle, a popular and enlightened young woman, was forced into sex shortly after arriving on the South Island.

Caton’s book, which won him the Man Booker, is organized according to astrological principles: each central character represents a celestial body or celestial body in the solar system.

Anna Weatherlal represents both the sun and the moon, as does her astral twin, a man named Emery Steins. Born at the same moment, they are bound together in a dignified manner and both feel a “magic” when they first meet on a boat in New Zealand.

Despite Anna and Emery’s main role in the book’s plot, they are barely visible and are missing for most of the 832-page Tom. When I first read the book, Anna’s absence struck me as particularly: always mentioned and never seen again, she seemed almost like a trope: a stupid woman and sex worker whose beauty is documented, but whose character is almost individually defined as her relationship with men. .

In a television adaptation, however, Caton reveals that mistake, revealing his complex story from a female perspective recently.

Illumination (BBC)

The settlement that Anna (Eve Hewson) first reached is now visible to Dunedin with her own eyes: dark, friendly, menacing, and full of lonely, alert men.

Anna herself is curious, wealthy, and although at first she is stupid, she is not stupid – she quickly realizes that the prostitute Madame Lydia Wells fooled him, she confirms that Anna has nowhere else to go.

Eva Green plays Lydia to perfection as a loving, velvet-covered skimmer with a former convicted felon, while her husband Crosby combs gold fields on the other side of Wales Island. He often steals scenes with stars and fate with his loneliness – and of course the whole series (directed by Claire McCarthy) is bound up in supernatural and magical feelings.

Illumination (BBC)

Caton’s choice to focus on the exciting dynamics between Anna and Lydia is a clear departure from the novel, which is much more open than the male-centric opening. Was introduced to Hokitika (an installation on the west coast).

All twelve are somehow linked to a mysterious murder – but in TV adaptations, this interview doesn’t take place until most of the time after the series.

Catton also places her (literally) star-surpassing lovers, Anna and Emery Steins (played by Himesh Patel). Their love story is also at the center of the book; But in the series we see its source.

In a beautiful shot from the first episode, Anna explores a new, alien territory on the boat she was sailing in New Zealand. The sun behind him, he looks down, and sees a stranger – Emery – lying in his shadow directly on the deck below.

There were some elements of the series pilot that I wasn’t interested in: the opening scenes, which came in anticipation of the murder, it was so dark and vested that I had to squint to give it any idea. A shot, where Anna seems to be bleeding bloody gold, if the brightness was dialed a bit so

But above all, spinning the luminaires on its axis to the liking of Caton, with a new focus on the feminine perspective, feels fresh and necessary.

The elaborate novel was always going to be a nightmare to adapt, but we didn’t meet for the first time by re-telling the story to us through the characters, Catton was able to breathe new life into his story.

Luminaires starts at 9pm on BBC One on Sunday 21 June. See what’s going on with our TV guide.

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