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The Meaning of Night Hardcover – 7 Sep 2006


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 608 pages
  • Publisher: John Murray; First Edition edition (7 Sep 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0719568358
  • ISBN-13: 978-0719568350
  • Product Dimensions: 4.9 x 16.1 x 24 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (80 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 579,848 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

24 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Lawyeraau HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on 27 Aug 2006
Format: Hardcover
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 period with a great deal of thought given to detail. The book begins as a presentation to the reader by a University of Cambridge Professor of a manuscript discovered in the Cambridge library among some papers. As such, the professor has added many footnotes that serve to illuminate some of the historical and literary allusions and references interspersed throughout the book. This was a literary contrivance that I very much enjoyed, both as a history buff and avid bibliophile. The overall concept is really that of a book within a book.

The manuscript purports to be a confession of sorts, as it tells a story of friendship, betrayal, and revenge, revealing a secret that had a profound impact on those whose lives it touched. After reading just the first sentence, I was hooked, as the story begins with a cold-blooded murder. Set in Victorian England, the story is told by an Edward Glyver, who is seeking to avenge himself on Phoebus Rainsford Daunt, a childhood friend whom he met while they were students at Eton. While at Eton, a wrong was done to Edward that would mark him forevermore.

The book offers a myriad of interesting characters and relationships that shaped Edward Glyver. The book is also rife with intrigues, coincidences, and secrets that deliciously unfold bit by bit, drawing the reader into the spider web of deceit that surrounds Edward Glyver, deceits that he is discovering and trying to unravel. The forces of good and evil are at work here, but who is good and who is evil is left for the discerning reader to determine, although such a determination is not always so black and white.
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25 of 30 people found the following review helpful By I Read, Therefore I Blog VINE VOICE on 22 Jun 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Much of the press for this book emphasised the fact that it took Michael Cox 30 years to complete. At times, it felt that it was going to take me as long to finish reading it.

I know several people who loved the central device that used to keep the plot going - namely whereby Glyvert's narration takes you through certain events up to a particular point, before telling you that he'll tell you more about it later and returning to some part of the backstory that he can then use to lead you up to the next particular point. Personally, I've never been a fan of this device - whilst you can get away with using it a couple of times in a story, the constant use of it began to bore me and suggested that Cox didn't have any faith in the power of his story simply carrying the reader through on a more linear path.

Some of the backstory was interesting, but parts felt indulgent and tagged on - for example, whilst the scenes in Eton that first lead to the enmity between Glyver and Gaunt are important to setting up Glyver's motivation, they also fail to utterly convince in their own right - mainly because this is really the only time in the entire book that we get a sense of Gaunt as a character, and his portrayal as a vain, spiteful little schoolboy never leaves you, even when Cox would have you believe that he's rapidly becoming a criminal mastermind. More than that though, this narrative technique added surplus scenes that didn't really serve to do much other than see print added to more paper than was necessary - I honestly believe that this book could have been told equally well, if not more effectively, had Cox been persuaded to cut out at least 200 pages.

I also had severe issues with the style that Cox used to tell his story.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Elizabeth Taylor VINE VOICE on 2 Jan 2008
Format: Paperback
I mostly enjoyed the 590 pages of this very long tome, which is a story of revenge and obsession set against a backdrop of late Victorian England. The story is of a Edward Glyver and his obsessive hatred for his rival Phoebus. Without giving away the story Edward believes that his enemy is responsbile for all the woes in this life, and, he spends most of it investigating, plotting against and shadowing his rival. In amongst that is a lost love, a lost innocence and many pages of description.

The writing style is a pastiche of a victorian novel with our author giving plenty of opportunity to describe the world of London in the 1800s as he imagined it to be. This was originally a positive point for me, but by about halfway it began to tire as I felt the author was being a little too clever, demonstrating on every other page his extensive knowledge of the 1800s with quotes and notations at the bottom of the text. This abundance of things to share does mean the novel is at least a hundred pages longer than it needs to be. I therefore found it very slow in the middle and nearly gave up, however, I was pleased I didn't as the ending held one's interest right to the end as the story began to overshadow its background.

So read this if you like historical fiction, if you like detail and description, if you like a book where the author likes to show off his knowledge and language this is for you.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Hobhood on 22 May 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I bought this a few years ago, and like several other reviewers here couldn't be bothered with it. It appeared to be a long winded, slow moving piece of pastiche Victoriana. However, searching among the audio books in my local library I found the unabridged version read by David Timson and decided to give it a go. Hearing it read by a good actor made an enormous difference to my enjoyment. The discursive narrative mattered not at all, as I could always listen to it while doing something else - exercising travelling or doing housework. I couldn't wait for the next opportunity to listen again. Its a big CD set - expensive to buy - but as a I write it can be got as part of the introductory offer from Audible for £3.99. I way well experience more novels in this way from now on.
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