The Meaning of Night, Michael Cox

I started reading this in Bongs & Noodles one time, a while ago, and I got bored.  I am more easily bored when I’m reading at Bongs & Noodles than I am in real life – maybe because Bongs & Noodles is all full of loads of brilliant books, and my time there is finite.  Anyway, then I read about it over at Superfastreader’s blog, and it sounded so good I decided to reconsider.  As often happens, I was very pleased that I did.

The Meaning of Night is all about a Victorian gentleman called Edward Glyver who conceives a plot to get revenge on one Phoebus Daunt.  He starts out by telling you how he killed someone, so you have reason from the start to think that he is an insane person, and then you can change your mind if you like, as the story continues.  In a way this book reminded me of Charles Palliser’s The Quincunx, with the Victorian times, and the lad with the poor but honest (only not really) mother, and how he’s been deprived of his Rights by a Foul Trick (or several), and how he must discover it all with the assistance of various concerned parties.

I simply cannot resist a good Victorian mystery with an intricate plot.  I particularly like mystery-type stories that aren’t whodunnits, but whydunnits.  That’s what interests me anyway.  (How they did it is also interesting – it’s why I love Beau Geste so much, though I hear some people find the intro part tedious.)  So although I did read the end, and knew that certain people were not absolutely trustworthy, and that the protagonist was going to regret certain actions, I could have still read the book without reading the end, and enjoyed it.  I love research books, where there are documents to be discovered and appended to the narrative.  Always reminds me of Wilkie Collins.

I read this mostly on the way to and from Opelousas for our delightful Easter with my family and my new little baby cousin Rayne, who was so sweet and good; and his big brother Sully, who is learning to make phrases like “baby Rayne” and “big truck” – at the top of his lungs.  And when I got home I was very sleepy, and it was rainy, and I curled up in my bed with the rain pouring down, and I read the rest of it.  A very pleasing reading experience.  I recommend this book, but particularly if you can arrange to read it in bed while it’s raining outside.

  • So glad you liked it! I’m reading the follow up, The Glass of Time, and really enjoying it–

  • I recently read this too…did you know that sadly, this author just passed away.

  • jennysbooks

    annie – I had no idea there was a sequel. Rubbish library’s copies are all checked out, so it’s a trip to the bookshop for me! I’m looking forward to seeing what you think of the sequel.

    Tara – Oh, that’s awful. I just read an obituary, and he sounds like he was a such an interesting person! It said that he was spurred on to write this novel that had been playing around in his head for years, when he was diagnosed with cancer. It’s an excellent book; I’m sad that he won’t be writing any more.