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Summary and book reviews of The Night Climbers by Ivo Stourton

The Night Climbers

A Novel

by Ivo Stourton

The Night Climbers
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Sep 2007, 336 pages
    Paperback:
    Jun 2008, 336 pages

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Book Summary

The Night Climbers, set among members of a close-knit eccentric club at Cambridge, portrays people at their most impressionable, when the intensity of early relationships stand to define their lives forever.

When James Walker first arrives at Tudor College, Cambridge, he is anxious to find his place among new friends. By accident, he encounters one of the members of a club calling itself the Tudor Night Climbers, a tightly knit, wealthy, secretive and tantalizingly eccentric circle of undergraduates who at night scale the college towers and gargoyles in pursuit of ever greater sensations. Seduced by their talent for decadence and high living, James falls for the reckless charisma of both Francis, the group's ringleader and Jessica, his beautiful best friend. Jessica becomes his obsession, and also his arch rival for Francis's friendship.

The group's tear-away extravagance is funded, unwittingly, by Francis's father, Lord Soulford, but when suddenly he cuts his son off, the friends are left floundering, until Francis embroils them all in a plan that will test not only their friendship, but also their very souls. The story begins with the news that, almost ten years after the crime, the fake Picasso they replaced the real one with is in danger of being discovered. The beautiful Jessica visits the narrator/lawyer James at his office in order to see what trouble they might be in, and the story flashes back and forth in time, also following the present narrative as they figure out whether they can save themselves.

Humming with intellectual energy and grace, The Night Climbers portrays people at their most impressionable, when the intensity of early relationships stand to define their lives forever. Seductive and sinister, The Night Climbers is an exciting debut by a talented young writer.

Chapter 1

There were security barriers in the foyer, thick glass turnstiles that fell open when you stuck the right card in the slots. The receptionists, however, were the real security. "Can I help you?" rang out across the lobby from behind the desk like "Who goes there?" from a battlement. It was a surprise, therefore, to find Jessica sitting in my black leather chair, waiting for me to return from the basement gym where I had spent a cathartic lunch break pummeling my personal trainer, sweating out the last drops of the previous night's whiskey. I knew from the way she looked at me, tilting her head forward and peering out from under her blond bangs while she gave me a lopsided smile, that she had lied her way in. Her expression was just as I remembered it when we'd gotten away with something, and it pulled me back into the past with the force of a scent. At thirty-two she was already losing her looks. They were not going gracefully, with the haunting quality that briefly ...

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About This Book

A novel of startling intensity, The Night Climbers is the riveting story of a secret league at Cambridge -- a group of young daredevils who test their limits in a variety of ways, including scaling the university's towering architecture after dark. Recalling his induction into the group as a first-year student, James Walker describes the seductive power of these alluring new friends. As their crimes escalate from the realm of misdemeanors, James finds himself testing not only the limits of his bravado but also the limits of his heart, immersed in a love triangle with breathtakingly beautiful Jessica and mastermind Francis. When Francis's father suddenly disinherits him, the Night Climbers must look for ...
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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

Although clearly the work of a writer relatively young in years, The Night Climbers hits many notes firmly on key. The plot takes many twists, some more unexpected than others and, overall, rises above the potentially clichéd setting and premise to deliver a seductive and at times sinister tale.   (Reviewed by BookBrowse Review Team).

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Media Reviews

Publishers Weekly blog - Bethanne Patrick

Ivo Stourton does not succeed stunningly out of the gate; his reach exceeds his grasp. But that's what heaven's for, as well as second books. The Night Climbers is not a terrific novel, but parts of it are terrific reads -- and Stourton is definitely an author to watch.

Book Page - Meredith McGuire

The pace of The Night Climbers is quick, electric and endlessly engaging. Despite a few missteps that present momentary hiccups in an otherwise compelling story, Stourton knowingly encapsulates the world of the privileged, the devastatingly pretty and the eternally youthful. With it, he presents both the hubris that leads to their downfall and the magnetism that allows others to willfully leap after them.

Literary Review

Tightly sprung and compulsively readable

The Observer (UK)

An amazingly accomplished debut... the writing is elegant, the story decadent.

The Independant (UK)

Loved The Line of Beauty, mooned over Brideshead, lapped up The Secret History? Then this one's for you.... Stourton really can write. Okay, he sometimes writes a little bit too much - there's an occasional pile-up of metaphors, a crush of adjectives - but which first-time novelist avoids that trap?

Lovereading.co.uk

Stourton's writing seduces the reader as much as James is seduced by the Night Climbers. We will eagerly await this author’s second novel.

Publishers Weekly

The novel juggles too many story lines to sustain the suspense needed for such a complicated tale. Still, Stourton is a name to watch.

Author Blurb Nicholas Coleridge
I love this book. So exhilarating, authentic and vivid. It made me want to become a Cambridge student all over again.

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Beyond the Book

Cambridge, the second oldest university in the English-speaking world, is located in the East of England. It is said that it was established by a group of scholars in the early 13th century who left Oxford (which was established in the 11th century) after two of their number were accused of murdering a local and hung by town authorities. Today, Cambridge consists of 31 colleges, of which three are all-female; the last all-male college, Magdalene (pronounced maudlin), started to admit women in ...

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