My book group met last night to discuss The Meaning of Night, by Michael Cox. I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed this book.
The setting is Victorian England during the mid-nineteenth century. We meet Edward Glyver and he has committed a murder, of which he is confessing to. Here is a snippet from Barnes & Noble:
“After killing the red-haired man, I took myself off to Quinn’s for an oyster supper.” So begins the “enthralling” (Booklist, starred review) and “ingenious” (Boston Globe) story of Edward Glyver, book lover, scholar, and murderer. A chance discovery convinces Glyver that greatness awaits him. His path to win back what is rightfully his leads him to Evenwood, one of England’s most enchanting country houses, and a woman who will become his obsession.
While attending school, Edward Glyver is framed by his friend Phoebus Daunt and expelled from the institution. As Daunt continues to be favored by all those around him, Glyver struggles with who is is and can’t seem to find his purpose in life. Frustrated over his predicament, he manages to secure a job with Mr. Tredgold, who sees in him, what others cannot see. It is during this time that he changes his name to Edward Glapthorn.
During his employment with Mr. Tredgold, Glapthorn (Glyver) discovers a bit of information that could change his future for the better and put Mr. Daunt in his place, once and for all. In his quest for proof, he meets Miss Emily Carteret and falls madly in love.
When I started to read this book, I was a little taken aback by the immense size of the novel. It weighs in at just over 700 pages. As I began to read, it seemed a bit wordy for me but by page 100, I was completely hooked. I’ve heard from a few of you that you have this book in your TBR pile but that you have yet to pick it up. Well, pick it up and start reading!
The story is beautifully written. Every time I picked it up, I felt as if I was right there next to Glyver, feeling his frustration and pain. Glyver is the classic “anti-hero”. He doesn’t always make the right decision and sort of flounders through life, yet he is very likable and real and the reader can relate to him. If you like a book to take you away, then this would be a good one to read.
Since this was my book selection for the group, I worried at first that there may not be much to talk about. I mean, other than enjoying the book, would there be enough to discuss? I am happy to say that there was plenty to discuss and to my surprise, everyone read it! Even given its 700+ pages. We all agreed that the story did not really start until page 100. So if you read it, keep that in mind.
Many of the group members compared Cox’s writing style to that of Charles Dickens. I have to agree with them and in a Q&A session posted here, he mentions that David Copperfield and Great Expectations started his love affair with Victorian fiction. He also mentions other novels such as The Woman In White and Moonstone.
After doing a bit of research, I found out that Cox has written a sequel to this book and it just came out this week! It’s called The Glass of Time. I went straight to Barnes & Noble to buy it but I believe my book group wants to pitch it for next year’s list so I’ll hold off and wait until it gets selected. Maybe.
If you’ve read it, what did you think of it?