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The Meaning of Night: A Confession [Hardcover]

4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)

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4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5 stars
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Victorian style treasure Jan. 11 2007
Author Michael Cox apparently took some 30 years to write this novel The Meaning of Night. Weighing in at 600 pages, it may take you almost that long to read it. Mr. Cox is the editor of The Oxford Book of Victorian Detective Stories and clearly knows the writing style of the period intimately. I have read a lot of 19th century literature and if I hadn't known that this was a modern book, the author would have had me fooled. It has all the requisite characters - the young man cheated out of his inheritance, the saintly mother, the kindly benefactor, the beguiling prostitute, the evil enemy, the beautiful chaste young lady, the mysterious deceased Lady of the manor, even the rotund housekeeper and the weeping maid. Mr. Cox has not only captured the voice of the time, he gives the novel the kind of pacing of a Victorian detective fiction, doling out bits of forshadowing information and plot twists, although none that weren't apparent to me. The novel touches on many things common to Victorian books: the notion of honour, loyalty, blood, true love all seen through the lens of the social mores of the time. Readers of modern novels may find it wordy, but if you are a fan of authors such as Wilkie Collins then you have a good read ahead of you. So sit in your wingback chair in front of the fire with your companion next to you working her embroidery, ring for the butler to bring your tea (or perhaps a very little whisky) and open the pages of the novel and let Mr. Cox work his magic.

For movie lovers - you might want to try Kind Hearts and Coronets (19490 starring Alec Guiness and Dennis Price which covers a lot of the same territory but with a lot more humour.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A HIGH FIVE FOR THIS VICTORIAN THRILLER Oct. 5 2006
By Gail Cooke TOP 50 REVIEWER
"After killing the red-haired man, I took myself off to Quinn's for an oyster supper."

Who could stop reading after such an opening sentence? Cox's monumental novel is subtitled "A Confession," could it be that is taken care of on page 1? Not quite. "The Meaning Of Night" is a labyrinthian journey through mid 19th century England, from the dank brothel lined streets of London to the elegance of Evenwood, a luxurious country home. The story is told ala Dickens, rich with Victorian language and copious footnotes.

Our narrator is Edward Glyver who well remembers that the first word he ever heard used to describe him was "resourceful." He is that and more. As a youngster he was the victim of a plot executed by Phoebus Rainsford Daunt, a fellow schoolboy. Edward was dismissed and sent home. However, we're reminded that "revenge has a long memory;" in this case, some two decades.

As the tale evolves, both Edward and Phoebus are rivals again. Following the death of Edward's mother he has reason to believe that his parentage is not what he thought it to be. Lord Tansor, master of Evenwood, is childless and has yet to choose an heir. Could that heir be Edward? This is a prize that Phoebus also pursues - not with honor we might add as he's both poet and shyster.

Lord Tansor's cousin, the mysterious and beautiful Emily Carteret, is also a prize that both men would win.

"The Meaning of Night" is a weighty read (700 pages) and a virtuoso accomplishment by the author. Those who appreciate Victorian thrillers will find pleasure in every sentence.

Highly recommended.

- Gail Cooke
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5.0 out of 5 stars Intrigue and ambition in the Great Leviathan Aug. 7 2006
As the story opens, we step into the world of Victorian London and meet mysterious Edward Glyver, intellectual, book lover, and seeker of revenge. After his mother's death, Edward discovers that everything he knew about her and himself was a lie; his real name is famous throughout England, but he must fight for the right to join that family. His battle involves murder and heartbreak and is an unforgettable story.

Edward narrates the story in the first person in the melodic, graceful, and flowery speech of a 19th century gentlemen. It is a captivating voice that pulls you into his dark and troubled world and holds you. We meet fascinating characters from the grimy London underworld to the heights of society, and uncover secrets from the past that affect Edward's future. Don't be put off by the size of this book; it's an exciting read, full of period details and charm and I found it hard to put down. Highly recommended for fans of historical fiction.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Richly detailed, good story, but too lengthy Jan. 1 2008
According to the dust jacket on the book, it took the author 30 years to write this novel. And it shows. The level of detail demonstrated in the novel is extensive. The numerous footnotes and comments from the editor show that Cox spent a great deal of time researching and writing his novel.

The trouble is, Cox goes off in many different directions. Too many directions. And a story that could have been short, succinct, and to the point quickly, ends up rambling on and on and on. The reader could easily miss the middle 200 pages or so and not skip a beat with the rest of the story or the plot.

Having said that, the story is intriguing. Anyone who is a fan of the historical fiction novel will certainly enjoy this book. Provided they don't mind reading 200+ pages of additional filler.
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Most recent customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Patience is Rewarded
Wow! On every level this is an impressive first novel. It works extremely well for three reasons. First, it is an intricate and detailed mystery reminiscent of the writings from... Read more
Published on Nov. 12 2011 by Jeffrey Swystun
5.0 out of 5 stars very interesting
The sheer size of this book I found a little daunting. But after a few pages I was hooked and the volume was no longer intimidating. Read more
Published on Oct. 19 2009 by temp
4.0 out of 5 stars Great storyline, great characters
Michael Cox does a fantastic job with character development in his novel. Making the reader care for the characters is not an easy feat to accomplish, and I feel he has done well... Read more
Published on July 29 2008 by MAL
This is a wonderful, highly stylized work of historical fiction. Those with a penchant for Victorian literature will appreciate this book, as it is written in the style of the... Read more
Published on Sept. 24 2006 by Lawyeraau
5.0 out of 5 stars A most poignant, deeply impressive, all-consuming reading experience
The singular product of a revivification of the best tradition of nineteenth century literature, The Meaning of Night tells an extraordinarily gripping tale of love, misfortune,... Read more
Published on Sept. 3 2006 by Daniel Jolley
5.0 out of 5 stars A Victorian tale of buried secrets, betrayed love, revealed destiny,...
At the start of "The Meaning of Night: A Confession," the narrator tells how he murdered a complete stranger, a red-haired man, and then head off to a favorite eating... Read more
Published on Sept. 3 2006 by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars 1001 UnDaunted Adventures in Victorian England
The Meaning of Night will provide hours of rewarding entertainment for fans of Victorian mysteries and romances who have a literary bent and love rich historical detail. Read more
Published on Aug. 7 2006 by Donald Mitchell
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