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By Nightfall [Hardcover]

Michael Cunningham
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)
RRP: 16.99
Price: 13.59 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

20 Jan 2011

From the Pultizer Prize-winning author of new novel ‘The Snow Queen’, comes the story of a marriage thrown off course by a moment of mistaken identity.

Peter Harris is forty-four, prosperous, the owner of a big New York apartment and a player in the contemporary art scene. He has been married to Rebecca for close to twenty years. Their marriage is sound, in the way marriages are. Peter might even describe himself as happy. But then Rebecca’s much younger brother Mizzy shows up for a visit. Beautiful, twenty-three years old, with a history of drug problems, Mizzy is looking for direction. And in his presence, Peter finds himself questioning his marriage, his desires, his career – the entire world he has so carefully constructed for himself.

Making us think deeply about the uses of beauty and the place of love in our lives, By Nightfall is heartbreaking look at the way we live now.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Fourth Estate; 1st Edition edition (20 Jan 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007307764
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007307760
  • Product Dimensions: 21.6 x 14 x 2.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 393,919 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

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Product Description


‘Cunningham encourages his reader to wrestle with things that interest him by sketching his plots delicately over classic lines. In this case, the arrival of the guest who will change everything is reworked into a discussion about art and decay by a writer who can write a page-turning novel that lingers eloquently in the mind’ The Times

‘This is a book about art, love, marriage and mortality… One of the intriguing and peculiar qualities of ‘By Nightfall’ is that it makes you live with a character who seems never quite at ease with his own identity… One of Cunningham's gifts is to be able to shift gears when he wants, out of banal everydayness into an intense rhapsodic meditation on the meaning and purpose of life.’ Guardian

‘Michael Cunningham is embarked on one of the more satisfying career trajectories of contemporary American novelists…’By Nightfall’ offers the reader an abundance of exquisite, enriching thumbnail sketches’ Times Literary Supplement

‘Constantly surprising … a love letter to New York, a hymn to youth and a meditation on the way art and literature alter our perception of the world’ Evening Standard

About the Author

Michael Cunningham is the author of six novels, including ‘A Home at the End of the World’, ‘Flesh and Blood’, ‘The Hours’ (winner of the PEN / Faulkner Award and the Pulitzer Prize), ‘Specimen Days’ and ‘By Nightfall’, as well as ‘Land’s End: A Walk in Provincetown’. His most recent novel is ‘The Snow Queen’. He lives in New York.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Kindle Formatting Shocker 17 Nov 2011
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I'm not going to comment on the book itself, as plenty of others have done so below, except to say that I personally found it an engaging and exquisitely composed meditation on what constitutes true beauty in our post-modern modern world - amongst other things.

But as read on my Kindle iPad app, I didn't find it very beautiful to read at all.

The electronic book is riddled with typographical and formatting errors, which would surely cause great dismay to Michael Cunningham, having clearly taken such care over his prose. For example every usage of "coffee" (which in a book set in Manhattan is about every page)the word is broken up into two non-existent words: "coff" and "ee". In fact every word with a double "ff" is split into two (off end, diff use) - which when you have a character called Groff, starts to get really problematic and way beyond the odd forgivable typo.

There are also:

Chunks of dialogue assigned to the wrong character through lack of a carriage return, so it looks like they are replying to their own question

Odd gaps and justification spaces throughout

I love Kindles and I like reading electronic books, but the lack of quality control in many of them is poor, and in this one particularly shocking.

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb 31 Jan 2011
By Benjamin TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Living in Manhattan Peter and Rebecca are both involved in the art world, he a dealer and gallery owner, she an editor. In their forties, they have a daughter who lives away, a daughter they feel they have failed. Their own lives seem to be settled but routine, that is until Rebecca's much younger brother turns up. Ethan, in his twenties, know as Mizzy - the mistake, the wonder child of the family, the one they all doted on, but the one who has gone astray, into drugs and unsure what he wants to do, he has descended upon Peter and Rebecca with claims that he thinks he might want to do something in art.

His arrival, initially resented by Peter, engenders strange feelings in him; Peter is attracted to Mizzy's unnerving likeness to a younger Rebecca; and could it be the Mizzy is attracted to him too, and if so will they do anything about it?

I loved this novel, it is beautifully written, prose that one wants to linger over and savour, rich in description and brimming with atmosphere; looking deeply at the characters and their motivations. The conversations are exquisitely handled, thoroughly convincing. I am sure this is a book that I will be reading again.
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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Quiet Profound Beauty 16 Nov 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is a strange novel. It is so understated, I wondered initially if it would ever get going.
But it does, like a car with the hand-break off, creaking and then rolling almost imperceptibly, and then picking up speed as it careers distinctly out of control.
This isn't a Big novel, or a crazily ambitious one. It does not have the epic nature of A Home At The End Of The World, or Flesh And Blood, or the failed megalomania of Specimen Days. Instead it reveals a subtle Woody Allen-like insight into the strangeness of our modern lives, and again, as in The Hours, the beautiful prose of a Virginia Wolf novel. The result is gentle, unpretentious and surprisingly profound.
For a while at the beginning, I didn't think I was going to like this novel. I couldn't have been more wrong. Welcome back Michael Cunningham.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Sensational in parts 20 Mar 2011
By Mr. R. J. Clark VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Peter is having a midlife crisis: presented with his young brother -in-law in the shower, he first mistakes him for the boyish woman he married twenty years ago, and then begins to fall in love with him, as the boy's youth and lack of ties (and resemblance to the woman he sleeps with) coalesce into a tantalising fantasy figure. We follow Peter as he becomes attracted to, fascinated by, hot for and finally in love with young Ethan. We watch breathless as he stands on the brink of giving up everything for the foolishness of youth, and then as the novel ends we follow him along the path to....well, you'll have to read it.

It's an occasionally frustrating novel. The first three chapters or so have some very odd writing in them, and little character or plot to pull us along; I was ready to give up. But then when the boy finally arrives, Cunningham is convincing in his portrayal of a man re-experiencing first love, and the lengths to which that can drive us.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Spectacular 9 Feb 2014
Format:Kindle Edition
I was completely bowled over by this book, I hadn’t heard much about it, so, despite having enjoyed ‘The Hours’ very much some years ago, wasn’t particularly expecting it to be spectacular. Spectacular it is though, it is the best book I have read in quite some time, and I read a lot. The writing is incredibly powerful. I felt that I needed to read certain passages a number of times in order to fully appreciate them and grasp their meaning, but the writing is so good that re-reading parts of it was an absolute pleasure. I particularly liked that while some of the book is written in Peter’s stream of consciousness, some passages of which are quite complex, the book never becomes difficult to follow. Further, the fact that the complex stream of consciousness passages are fairly infrequent makes these more powerful when they do come.

Although Peter’s serious contemplation of a romantic relationship with his wife’s much younger brother does seem ludicrous, I did not feel that the idea was too far-fetched for the novel to be credible, as Peter’s disillusionment with his stale marriage and his career, his feelings of failure as a father, his long-endured grief for his brother and his growing awareness that he is no longer a young man are very believable, making it possible that he would be drawn to something new, however inappropriate this may be (not only is Mizzy young enough to be his son, he is also his brother-in-law).

I felt that the ending was maybe the weakest part of the novel, but, having said that, it is a realistic ending.

I definitely recommend this to any Virginia Woolf fans and to anyone who enjoys beautiful writing.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best books I've read
Michael Cunningham is a beautiful writer, there's no doubt about that. This book has not failed to live up to our expectations. Read more
Published 12 days ago by M. Elia
2.0 out of 5 stars Not Keen.
I had high hopes for this book after reading some revues, but i found it a rather boring read which i did'nt have trouble putting it down.
Published 9 months ago by Trevor Young
3.0 out of 5 stars a cultured faintly snobbish gay man's fantasy
It's every gay man's fantasy that a heterosexual man would question his sexuality and fall for a younger attractive man. It's a one trick narrative that doesn't have much impact. Read more
Published 12 months ago by Mr. N. J. Milton
4.0 out of 5 stars Good stuff (nearly)
Very well written and keeps the reader guessing nearly all the way through. Strangely, this being so different, I was reminded of The Catcher in the Rye at some times. Read more
Published 16 months ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Compelling, unsettling novel
I kept this book for a long time before reading it, imagining there would be a right moment. A cold winter's evening, and I finally opened it up, to find it one of the most... Read more
Published 20 months ago by emma who reads a lot
4.0 out of 5 stars Mizzy
Every book should teach you something, and this one swings the doors wide open for a grand tour of the ruthless world that is the art business in New York. Read more
Published 20 months ago by Amapola
2.0 out of 5 stars mmmmmmm!
A frustrating read. Irritating characters. Irritating plot. Beautifully written! Left me wanting to re-read The Hours, Home At The End of the World, Flesh & Blood.....
Published 22 months ago by Chris
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful Prose
Cunnigham proves again that he's a master of his art and provides a stunning novel which is brooding, intense, yet has a fascinating plot also.
Published 24 months ago by Highly-Strung
2.0 out of 5 stars COLOR IT BLAND
Why, oh why, do I keep reading Michael Cunninghams novels. I truly have not enjoyed anything he has written since THE HOURS. Read more
Published on 24 Jun 2012 by Red Rock Bookworm
1.0 out of 5 stars boring
very boring, slow moving novel. Great possibilities but poorly executed. Nothing like his previous novels. Read more
Published on 2 May 2012 by Rinconete
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