For seven long years Eleanor Catton's book The Luminaries has cast a dark shadow over my book case. And not just because of its planetary size.
Rather it's because of the failure that the book represents. For yes, I am one of those people who bought The Luminaries but did not read The Luminaries. I tried. I had heard it was really very good.
But sentences like this, "This is to say that we acknowledge the celestial phenomenon known as precession, by which motion vernal equinox, the astrological equivalent of the Greenwich meridian, has come to shift" sent me quickly crashing back down to Earth.
Those who have finished The Luminaries may recognise this sentence. It's the second one in the book, on the page titled Note to the Reader. This appears well before Chapter One and is not granted the dignity of a page number. As I had no clue what in blazes any of those words meant - either individually or used in a sentence like that one - I put the book down and up onto my bookshelf.
Every day since, as I walk past it, the gold foil print on its spine glints in my eye as it catches the sun. A shiny, mocking reminder of the promised treasure buried within the pages that I didn't dig anywhere near deep enough to find.
I've since lugged the weighty tome to three houses fooling myself that one day yes, I would give it another crack. After all it took me three attempts over at least a decade to get past the first bloody forest Bilbo and co venture into in the first Lord of the Rings book.
Settling onto the couch to watch the first episode of The Luminaries this week I had the same feeling I'd had when I settled into the cinema to watch Peter Jackson's first LOTR movie, The Fellowship of the Ring: a little bit of excitement that I'd finally find out what all the fuss was about, a little bit of relief that I wouldn't have to do any heavy mental lifting myself and a little bit of disappointment that I'd let myself down by throwing in the towel so completely.
Shortly after pressing play I had the same feeling that I'd had when I'd settled onto my couch to read The Luminaries all those years ago: confusion as to what in blazes was going on.
The first scene of this adaptation, a joint venture between the BBC and TVNZ, opens in the dark of night. A night so dark and moody it was hard to see what was happening. I'm not talking as pitch black as Game of Thrones' infamous The Long Night episode, which may as well have been called The Black Screen for how legible it was, but enough to leave me scratching my head. And not in a good way.
Still, the important bits were well illuminated. A stylish shoot-out in the woods looked stunning, as did the moonlit rough waters of the New Zealand coast.
As I hadn't even got to chapter one in my feeble attempt at reading the book I didn't know if the story was realistic or magical. The shimmering gold spilling decoratively behind the lady running away from the two dudes on horseback looked cool, but didn't exactly shine a light on this query. Though when the guy who'd had just been shot dead sat back up again after the running lady got shot dead, causing blood and gold to gush out of her tummy, I began to suspect the latter.
Either way, despite a little eye strain, I was intrigued and am pleased to report I not only made it past the first scene but all the way to the finish line. Not of the whole series, but of the first chapter in this six-part series.
That's not to say it's an easy watch. I struggled a bit with the sudden jumps in time, leaving me wondering if I'd blinked and missed something crucial before realising nope, we'd just shot forward a bit for some reason that I assume will become clear at some point in a later episode.
But even with my moments of befuddlement and discombobulation I enjoyed the show.
It's rare to see new world New Zealand presented in such a lush, lavish and obviously expensive way. The acting across the board is superb and even though it's on TV, it's hugely cinematic.
So you bet I'll be tuning in again this Sunday night. A dummy like me couldn't get through the book so having The Luminaries on the telly really is fool's gold.