The Meaning of Night

The Meaning of Night

A Confession

Book - 2006
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"After killing the red-haired man, I took myself off to Quinn's for an oyster supper."

So begins an extraordinary story of betrayal and treachery, of delusion and deceit narrated by Edward Glyver. Glyver may be a bibliophile, but he is no bookworm. Employed "in a private capacity" by one of Victorian London's top lawyers, he knows his Macrobius from his First Folio, but he has the street-smarts and ruthlessness of a Philip Marlowe. And just as it is with many a contemporary detective, one can't always be sure whether Glyver is acting on the side of right or wrong.

As the novel begins, Glyver silently stabs a stranger from behind, killing him apparently at random. But though he has committed a callous and brutal crime, Glyver soon reveals himself to be a sympathetic and seductively charming narrator. In fact, Edward Glyver keeps the reader spellbound for 600 riveting pages full of betrayal, twists, lies, and obsession.

Glyver has an unforgettable story to tell. Raised in straitened circumstances by his novelist mother, he attended Eton thanks to the munificence of a mysterious benefactor. After his mother's death, Glyver is not sure what path to take in life. Should he explore the new art of photography, take a job at the British Museum, continue his travels in Europe with his friend Le Grice? But then, going through his mother's papers, he discovers something that seems unbelievable: the woman who raised him was not his mother at all. He is actually the son of Lord Tansor, one of the richest and most powerful men in England.

Naturally, Glyver sets out to prove his case. But he lacks evidence, and while trying to find it under the alias "Edward Glapthorn," he discovers that one person stands between him and his birthright: his old schoolmate and rival Phoebus Rainsford Daunt, a popular poet (and secret criminal) whom Lord Tansor has taken a decidedly paternal interest in after the death of his only son.

Glyver's mission to regain his patrimony takes him from the heights of society to its lowest depths, from brothels and opium dens to Cambridge colleges and the idylls of Evenwood, the Tansor family's ancestral home. Glyver is tough and resourceful, but Daunt always seems to be a step ahead, at least until Glyver meets the beguilingly beautiful Emily Carteret, daughter of Lord Tansor's secretary.

But nothing is as it seems in this accomplished, suspenseful novel. Glyver's employer Tredgold warns him to trust no one: Is his enigmatic neighbour Fordyce Jukes spying on him? Is the brutal murderer Josiah Pluckthorn on his trail? And is Glyver himself, driven half-mad by the desire for revenge, telling us the whole truth in his candid, but very artful, "confession"?

A global phenomenon, The Meaning of Night is an addictive, darkly funny, and completely captivating novel. Meticulously researched and utterly gripping, it draws its readers relentlessly forward until its compelling narrator's final revelations.

From the Hardcover edition.
Publisher: Toronto : McClelland & Stewart, c2006.
ISBN: 9780771023064
Characteristics: 600 p. ;,24 cm.


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Sep 13, 2017

This is definitely one of the best books I have ever read. I love Victorian novels, especially the ones by Wilkie Collins, and I found that "The Meaning of Night" has all the feel and the atmosphere of a Collins book. The plot is elaborate and it is not my intention to spoil the surprise for anyone, but I can say that there are several elements (obsession, drugs, love, revenge, ambition, hatred, disguise, murder, theft, betrayal) extremely well connected and developed. Basically, it's the story of a very resourceful young man who discovers his true origins and tries to get what is rightfully his. His nemesis is an old school mate who puts every sort of obstacles on our hero's path. I found myself rooting for the "villain" - or at least for one of them - and asking myself what I would do in his place. Last but not least, London is a protagonist here. The Victorian city described in such depth by Dickens and Mayhew comes alive with its aristocratic palaces, its beautiful parks, and its sordid slums. If you like Victorian England and its literature, I believe that this book will not disappoint you. I am looking forward to reading Cox' sequel to "The Meaning of Night."

Aug 24, 2014

As with most Old English writings it is way too "wordy". For me it takes away something from the story, not adding too it. And the footnotes were mostly not really related to the story--just descriptive of the locations of the area. I guess, due to fact I read "The Glass of Time" first which was a continuation of this story. Maybe I would have found it more compelling and interesting but instead found it a lot repetative in many instances.

More like the meaning of spooky! This story starts out with a cold blooded murder then continues on with one diabolical plot twist and turn after another. Lots of suspense, intrigue, and subterfuge that leave you wondering just who IS the real villain here? The true nature of these evil, yet sometimes likable characters is only hinted at, leaving us, in the end trusting no one. Well researched this book has it all; history, romance and murder. The setting, Victorian England, is a perfect choice for this psychological thriller. Chilling!

Jan 26, 2013

Yup, too wordy.

Aug 13, 2012

I'm with becker on this one: too many words. It was a pretty compelling mystery and worth the read regardless.

cocokliks Nov 08, 2011

A beautifully written book which any fan of historical mystery will love, especially those who have a taste for Edgar Allen Poe.

RenGrrl May 31, 2011

Another gripping Victorian mystery by Michael Cox!

Apr 28, 2010

This historical fiction which reads like a mystery is a compelling and complex story full of twists and turns. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and would have given it an even higher rating except for one significant factor. It is far too wordy. Michael Cox has quite a way with words and loves to put them together in long strings, but his writing style is excessively wordy and I can't say it adds to the story. If anything I found it detracted from the story and tried my patience. I was eager to follow the progression of the plot, and I was constantly thinking "Just get on with it - I want to know what happens next". His outstanding research is backed up with countless footnotes but I found most of them to bear little on the enjoyment or understanding of the story. Bottom line is...this is a great read, but certainly nothing to rush through. It needs to be enjoyed for what it is


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notTom Dec 16, 2010

In dark, dreary Victorian England, a man seeks revenge at all costs against the person that destroyed his life. Amongst the foggy streets of London and the drizzle-dampened grounds of great country manors, the novel takes the form of a confession by a man named Edward Glyver of all that he has done to exact retribution upon the odious Phoebus Daunt, While Daunt has achieved a prominent status in society because of his oily guile and handsome looks, Glyver discovers truths about his real identity that unearths Daunt's treachery: that Daunt is stealing his inheritance. While meeting a woman and falling desperately in love with her, Glyver plots the ultimate revenge. These tumultuous parts of Glyver's life collide in a manner that he never expected, and will lead him to contemplate the unthinkable: murder.

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