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The Meaning of Night Hardcover – Oct 10 2006

4.6 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

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Hardcover, Oct 10 2006
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 608 pages
  • Publisher: McClelland & Stewart; 1st Edition edition (Oct. 10 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0771023057
  • ISBN-13: 978-0771023057
  • Product Dimensions: 16.8 x 4.1 x 24.2 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 1 Kg
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,684,429 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Resonant with echoes of Wilkie Collins and Charles Dickens, Cox's richly imagined thriller features an unreliable narrator, Edward Glyver, who opens his chilling "confession" with a cold-blooded account of an anonymous murder that he commits one night on the streets of 1854 London. That killing is mere training for his planned assassination of Phoebus Daunt, an acquaintance Glyver blames for virtually every downturn in his life. Glyver feels Daunt's insidious influence in everything from his humiliating expulsion from school to his dismal career as a law firm factotum. The narrative ultimately centers on the monomaniacal Glyver's discovery of a usurped inheritance that should have been his birthright, the byzantine particulars of which are drawing him into a final, fatal confrontation with Daunt. Cox's tale abounds with startling surprises that are made credible by its scrupulously researched background and details of everyday Victorian life. Its exemplary blend of intrigue, history and romance mark a stand-out literary debut. Cox is also the author of M.R. James, a biography of the classic ghost-story writer.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* This enthralling historical novel--set in London in 1854, cast as a confession, and written in the dense and formal style of a Victorian novel--tells the unusual story of Edward Glyver, bibliophile, photographer, and murderer. Ostensibly the tale of a man whose rightful legacy has been deliberately withheld, it casts a much wider net, and at its center is its vivid portrait of a teeming London, "brilliant and beautifully vile." That dichotomy is also expressed in the deadly rivalry between scholarly Glyver and his archnemesis, Phoebus Daunt, who is esteemed as a poet but makes his living by bilking people of their money through elaborate con games while insidiously cultivating the affections of the heirless Lord Tansor. Raised in near-poverty, Glyver gradually becomes aware of the fact that he is Lord Tansor's son and begins a years-long search for evidence, but he is thwarted at every turn by the wily Daunt. An intriguing blend of book lover and man of the world, Glyver becomes completely obsessed with his quest, which takes him from exquisite libraries to smoky opium dens, dank bars, and gaudy brothels. His obsession also turns him from a discerning scholar into a cold-blooded murderer. Cox invokes emotions, from the iciest betrayal to all-consuming love, on a grand scale and gives them an equally impressive backdrop as he depicts a fetid London, its streets filthy but its people in thrall to the smallest details of social stratification. A masterful first novel and a must for readers of Iain Pears and David Liss. Joanne Wilkinson
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

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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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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By Jeffrey Swystun TOP 50 REVIEWER on Nov. 12 2011
Format: Paperback
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 the mid 18th century when it takes place. Second, the main character's motivations are laid bare as the novel progresses in a clever, subtle manner. And lastly, the various sources of information that propel the story give it more credibility - diaries, affidavits, recollections add to the texture. I recognize that many have criticized the book for being too long and drawing out a resolution. But when you look at the bestseller lists, we fiction readers have largely been trained to expect books to be roughly 325 pages. In the case of The Meaning of Night, I found that patience is rewarded.

The novel flows at varied paces which adds to the entertainment. It is also varied as equal parts mystery, confession, and unrequited romance. The writing is both fluid and dense, I love his ongoing description of London as "the Great Leviathan, the never-sleeping monster in whose expanding coils I now dwelled." Another example is the author's Dickens-like description of one character, "You instantly saw a natural disposition towards goodness, his roundness seeming appropriately indicative of a corresponding completeness of character: that enviable, unaffected integration of feeling and temperament in which there is excess neither of preening self-regard nor impatience with the failings of others." And as good reading should provide, I learned new words and appreciated the author's use of translated Latin phrases.

Yet it is Edward Glyver's curious pursuit of Phoebus Daunt that intrigues. Is Daunt a true Moriarty? Or has Glyver found a clever excuse for his life's trials and tribulations? I invite you to find out - put on a fire, steep a tea or pour a scotch and settle into a tale not to be rushed.
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