The atmosphere of Bleak House, the sensuous thrill of Perfume, and the mystery of Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell all combine in a story of murder, deceit, love, and revenge in Victorian England.
"After killing the red-haired man, I took myself off to Quinn's for an oyster supper."
So begins the extraordinary story of Edward Glyver--booklover, scholar,
and murderer. As a young boy, Glyver always believed he was destined
for greatness. A chance discovery convinces him that he was right:
greatness does await him, along with immense wealth and influence.
Overwhelmed by his discovery, he will stop at nothing to win back a
prize that he knows is rightfully his.
Glyver's path to reclaim
his prize leads him from the depths of Victorian London, with its foggy
streets, brothels, and opium dens, to Evenwood, one of England's most
beautiful and enchanting country houses, and finally to a consuming
love for the beautiful but enigmatic Emily Carteret. His is a story of
betrayal and treachery, of death and delusion, of ruthless obsession
and ambition. And at every turn, driving Glyver irresistibly onward, is
his deadly rival: the poet-criminal Phoebus Rainsford Daunt.
The Meaning of Night is an enthralling novel that will captivate readers right up to its final thrilling revelation.
The characters are delightfully typecast - there's the tragic figure of our much put-upon anti-hero who is driven to commit violence for what he believes is a justified cause; a truly dastardly old-Etonian poetry-spouting villain (who, if this was a play, would receive hisses from the audience every time he came on stage); the exceedingly wealthy and influential Lord Tansor, living off the gains of his brighter ancestors; a dead-ringer for Uriah Heap; plus a massive supporting cast representing every strata of society, both urban and country; and last but not least, Evenwood House itself and its great library - the representation of everything that Edward yearns for but that remains tantalizingly out of reach. (Reviewed by BookBrowse Review Team).
The New York Times - Janet Maslin
During the convoluted course of his adventures, Edward inevitably fixates on an unattainable woman. “I have loved you from the very first moment,” he tells her blandly. And he courts her in ways that, like so much of “The Meaning of Night,” are oddly blank despite their seeming specificity.
Starred Review. A bibliophilic, cozy, murderous confection out of foggy old England...[a] long, learned and remarkably entertaining treat.
Starred Review. Its exemplary blend of intrigue, history and romance mark a stand-out literary debut.
Booklist- Joanne Wilkinson
Starred Review. 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.
Starred Review. Cox creates a strong sense of place, a complex narrative full of unexpectedly wicked twists, and a well-drawn cast of supporting characters...[a] masterpiece.
The Daily Telegraph - Alastair Sooke
It is substandard, ersatz hokum. The only way to stay the course of its 600 pages is to treat the over-egged writing as tenaciously tongue-in-cheek.
The Daily Telegraph - David Robson
[A]n impressively fluent first novel which should appeal to lovers of Victorian pastiche. It is a great door-stopper of a book, and has been 30 years in the writing, but it never feels like heavy going.
Recent Reader Reviews
Rated of 5
by Avid Historical Reader Intrigue When this novel began, I thought I was reading another Jack the Ripper, serial killer, confession novel. I was amazingly wrong. This novel is filled with intrigue, horror, pity, love, friendship, betrayal... I could not put this book down. So... Read More
In the acknowledgments for The
Meaning of Night, Michael Cox notes
that three real places contributed in
various ways, to the making of Evenwood,
the extremely grand private estate at
the heart of this novel. These are
Drayton House and
Deene Park, both in Northamptonshire and
Burghley House. If you have plans
to read this book, or have read it, it's
worth a few minutes of your time to
visit these houses online, to get a
sense of what Evenwood would have been
Books are an integral part of the
intricate plot of The Meaning of
Night. Cox says that Lord Tansor's
library is "based unashamedly on that of
the 2nd Earl Spencer (1758-1834) at
Althorp". The 40,000 item book
collection that used to be housed at
Althrop was purchased from the 5th Earl...
What is it to be human? This question, as in Birdsong, is at the heart of Human Traces. Set in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, this is an extraordinary novel that brings to vivid life, through the story of the volatile friendship and dedicated careers of two determined men, the epic quest to map the human mind.
Sophisticated, witty, and ingeniously convincing, Susanna Clarke's magisterial novel weaves magic into a flawlessly detailed vision of historical England. She has created a world so thoroughly enchanting that eight hundred pages leave readers longing for more.
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