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The Meaning of Night: A Confession Hardcover – Jan 1 2006


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Product Details

  • Hardcover
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton (2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393062031
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393062038
  • Product Dimensions: 3.6 x 16 x 24 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 975 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #586,288 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)


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By Kona TOP 100 REVIEWER on Aug. 7 2006
Format: Hardcover
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 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Kelly Rossiter on Jan. 11 2007
Format: Hardcover
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 By Gail Cooke TOP 50 REVIEWER on Oct. 5 2006
Format: Hardcover
"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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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Lawyeraau TOP 100 REVIEWER on Sept. 24 2006
Format: Hardcover
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 period with a great deal of thought given to detail. The book begins as a presentation to the reader by a University of Cambridge Professor of a manuscript discovered in the Cambridge library among some papers. As such, the professor has added many footnotes that serve to illuminate some of the historical and literary allusions and references interspersed throughout the book. This was a literary contrivance that I very much enjoyed, both as a history buff and avid bibliophile. The overall concept is really that of a book within a book.

The manuscript purports to be a confession of sorts, as it tells a story of friendship, betrayal, and revenge, revealing a secret that had a profound impact on those whose lives it touched. After reading just the first sentence, I was hooked, as the story begins with a cold-blooded murder. Set in Victorian England, the story is told by an Edward Glyver, who is seeking to avenge himself on Phoebus Rainsford Daunt, a childhood friend whom he met while they were students at Eton. While at Eton, a wrong was done to Edward that would mark him forevermore.

The book offers a myriad of interesting characters and relationships that shaped Edward Glyver. The book is also rife with intrigues, coincidences, and secrets that deliciously unfold bit by bit, drawing the reader into the spider web of deceit that surrounds Edward Glyver, deceits that he is discovering and trying to unravel. The forces of good and evil are at work here, but who is good and who is evil is left for the discerning reader to determine, although such a determination is not always so black and white.
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