The Meaning of Night Hardcover – Oct 10 2006
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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.
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*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
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.
- Gail Cooke
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.
Most recent customer reviews
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 morePublished on Oct. 19 2009 by temp
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 morePublished on July 29 2008 by MAL
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. Read morePublished on Jan. 1 2008 by NorthVan Dave
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 morePublished on Sept. 24 2006 by lawyeraau
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 morePublished on Sept. 3 2006 by Daniel Jolley
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 morePublished on Sept. 3 2006 by Lawrance Bernabo
As the story opens, we step into the world of Victorian London and meet mysterious Edward Glyver, intellectual, book lover, and seeker of revenge. Read morePublished on Aug. 7 2006 by Kona