The Meaning of Night
One of the beauties of reading bookish blogs is that sometimes you read about a book that sounds excellent but you know that if you had come across the same book in a book shop, chances are for some reason or another, you would never have even picked it up to look at the blurb on the back cover. Michael Cox’s The Meaning of Night is one such book, I read about it on someones wish list in The Sunday Salon (I feel terrible that I can’t remember the blogger’s name) and she described it so well, I knew it would fit my liking for Gothic London thrillers. Whereas if I’d seen it on a 3 for 2 pile somewhere I would have assumed from the cover design, title and teaser (A secret buried, a love betrayed . . .) that it was some soppy, over the top, melodramatic, period romance, not my thing at all! In reality The Meaning of Night is about Edward Glyver and his quest to overcome his nemesis, the delightfully named (for a nemesis) Phoebus Daunt. Daunt has blighted Glyver since their school days in Eton and he looks set to take Glyver’s rightful destiny from under him.
The Meaning of Night is a great long circular novel, which for me took a while to get through, but it has been a regular treat to retire to bed each night to read a chapter and to see what else Glyver has been getting up to. The book is melodramatic (in keeping with it’s Victorian narrator) and at times predictable (there were no real surprises that weren’t hinted at at an earlier point in the text) but it’s still a great read. I enjoyed Cox’s writing greatly, how’s this for an almost opening sentence? (There’s a fictional Editor’s preface before hand).
After killing the red-haired man, I took myself off to Quinn’s for an oyster supper.
Being a Londoner (pretty much so) myself, I always adore good historic novels set in London and this is most definitely one of them, Cox describes the beast like London, from it’s upper class houses and squares to the prostitutes and the opium dens, in my mind perfectly. And this may seem to be an odd thing to compliment a writer on, but he does weather so well, which adds heaps of atmosphere to the story, from the funereal rain, the smogs and the way how you know it’s snowed before you’ve even looked out of the window. Perfect.