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Lord Byron's Novel
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Lord Byron's Novel

3.57 of 5 stars 3.57  ·  rating details  ·  350 ratings  ·  51 reviews
One of our most accomplished literary artists, John Crowley imagines the novel the haunted Romantic poet Lord Byron never penned ...but very well might have. Saved from destruction, read, and annotated by Byron's own abandoned daughter, Ada, the manuscript is rediscovered in our time -- and almost not recognized. Lord Byron's Novel is the story of a dying daughter's attemp ...more
ebook, 496 pages
Published October 13th 2009 by HarperCollins e-books (first published 2005)
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Eddie Watkins
A fine and thoroughly disappointing novel.

It is virtually devoid of the mystery and depth of meaning of Crowley's best novels, which I consider to be Little, Big and the Aegypt series.

Technically, it is a marvel, and the mock Byron novel is a rip-roaring read, and even the email exchanges among the principal contemporary characters are interesting; but the book as a whole is terribly predictable (the Byron novel itself being predictably unpredictable). Considering that the novel includes an acc
...more
Nicole
Wow. Finally got to this. Revolves around the discovery of an old sea trunk in which are found, among other things, one page of nearly illegible scrawl (and if you know Byron's handwriting, you're immediately onto that clue) and many pages of numbers, apparently a cypher. Turns out Ada Byron has encoded her father's manuscript of a novel so that it will not, at her mother's and husband's insistence, be destroyed for all time. Ada undertook this massive project in the last year of her life when s ...more
Margaret
What if George Gordon, Lord Byron, had written a novel? He started one, of course, on that famous night in Italy with Mary and Percy Bysshe Shelley, but quickly abandoned it. Instead, John Crowley asks what if he'd finished it, and it had come into the hands of his daughter, Ada, Countess of Lovelace? Lord Byron's Novel is an intricately intertwined three-part story: Byron's novel, which we get in its entirety; his daughter's annotations and notes; and the researchers who discover the novel.

For
...more
James
Took about 7 attempts to get in to this, glad I did. The book is on three tracks: Byron's novel, Ada's notes on Byron's novel, and modern readers working their way through both. Once all three start gelling the pace picks up nicely, but the Byron novel is slow going even for folks like me who like the occasional Romantic novel (and Crowley does Romantic Novel very well). Extra points for having the modern protagonist being a lesbian and having that be only mildly relevant to the plot, and in no ...more
Kiri
I read this book ages ago and, coming across it again recently, decided to renew my acquaintance with it. But ... 100 pages in, I'm giving up. The thesis is interesting -- a novel purportedly written by Lord Byron surfaces in modern times, along with notes for the manuscript written by his daughter Ada. That's very cool, not only because the novel contents are entertainingly romantic, but Ada's annotations are informative, based on Byron's actual life, and a neat nod to Ada's efforts in writing ...more
Robin
I started reading this book with great interest and then it just got confusing and boring and you know how I am with authors interjecting comments to the reader (Mark Twain!!!). We have a story supposedly written by Lord Byron. Manuscripts happened upon daughter Ada Lovelace who was to burn them but coded the whole novel into numbers so all was not to be lost then years into the future found again (ofcourse), decoded and published. This could almost be four stories. The story.. the novel is abou ...more
Jean
This was an interesting read. I like historical fiction and this cleverly done story claims from the git-go to be a fictionalized history. Could Lord Byron really have written such a story based on his life? I do not know enough about Lord Byron to know but it was fun to think so. I dropped one star because I thought the intertwining emails having to do with how the novel was discovered became a little too personal about those people in whom I was not really interested. One of the features of th ...more
Kaethe
This is a multi-layered novel. First we have a manuscript written by George Gordon, Lord Byron, which in real life wasn't completed. But Crowley gives us the novel in its entirety. Next we have the annotations by Ada Lovelace, Byron's daughter, who possessed the supposed manuscript. Finally, we have a modern researcher who discovers the manuscript. So it's a bit like Possession. I loved all of the storylines, since like every female computer geek in the world, I'm an Ada fan.
Bill
I was thrilled to find that John Crowley, author of one of my old favorite fantasy novels, Little, Big, had published a new novel after quite a few years. I was even more delighted to see that it concerned the supposed discovery of a novel reputed to have been penned during a famous gathering of authors, notably Mary Shelley and her husband, the poet Percy Shelley, from which emerged Mary's masterpiece Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus. The tale is told through the use of various devices, i ...more
Kevin
In between the seven years between the last and penultimate installments of his Aegypt cycle, John Crowley wrote two standalone novels of a different tone to his hermetic story. Far from being the mystical prose readers of his acclaimed Little, Big had come to expect/demand, these novels delivered a much more straightforward story, tighter plot, and clearer message. Lord Byron's Novel is the later of the two.

The Evening Land has what appears to be a complex structure. It consists of a novel that
...more
Sheherazahde
This is a story within a story within a story. One level is a novel, the next level is footnote anotations to the novel, the third level is the correspondence of the people involved in discovering and decoded the encrypted novel. [return][return]At it's heart is the 'lost' novel by Lord Byron. It is a fictionalized autobiography of Byron in the form of Ali, the half-Albanian son of a Lord Sane. The next level is the actual story of Lord Byron, his wife, and their daughter, Ada Byron Countess of ...more
Peter
This book stands toe-to-toe with A.S. Byatt's Possession and Eco's The Name of the Rose, other members of the "fiction detective" genre (I made that up). Crowley captures the unhinged, "Romantic" world of Byron's fiction; the "Victorian" restrained turmoil of his daughter, Ada Lovelace; and some of the forthright longings of our own age, the curious child of the past.

After reading Crowley's novel Ægypt (which I had picked up on a reviewer's recommendation that it presaged and/or provided a theor
...more
Jeremiah Genest
Crowley does an amazing job of capturing the early nineteenth-century voice of Byron; The Evening Land is full of both subtle and obvious allusions to Byron’s life and work. It’s not hard to imagine that this novel really is a fictionalized autobiography of Byron, who was a champion of marginalized peoples and cultures, and especially of Albania and Greece. (The comparisons to Byron’s life are intriguing, as the characters in the novel-within-the-novel point out to each other; and as well as Pos ...more
Anwar Casas
He de confesar que me fui con la finta de que era un libro histórico que quizá tenía documentos acerca de la novela perdida de Lord Byron, sin embargo ya que lo comencé a leer me di cuenta que era una novela sin embargo fue una sorpresa muy agradable pues contiene muchos datos y suposiciones de Lord Byron que están muy documentadas y a la vez es como 3 libros en uno: la supuesta novela perdida, los descubrimientos de Ada la hija de Lord Byron, y la correspondencia entre Alex, la descubridora del ...more
Ann
This was our book club selection. It took longer to read than I expected, and I didn't finish it by the date of our meeting. I am curious about how it will all end, though, as there are some late revelations typical of novels of Byron's time. So I am still working on it, and will finish soon.

The author skillfully maintains three separate voices throughout: Byron's (ostensibly, since this is a fictional work), that of his daughter Ada as she comments on the events in the "novel" and compares them
...more
Jeffrey St.
John Crowley's The Evening Land: Lord Byron's Novel is a dazzling tour de force of literary mimicry, as he recreates not only Byron's unique voice but also that of his daughter, Ada, a mathematical genius who, with Charles Babbage, developed the Difference Engine, the first computer. A multi-layered narrative, similar to AS Byatt's Possession and John Fowles's The French Lieutenant's Woman, Crowley's novel centers on the discovery of a Holy Grail of English literature, the long-lost novel by Lor ...more
Francesca Lorenzini
Lord Byron è celebre per le sue composizioni poetiche, ma iniziò anche un romanzo che non pubblicò mai. Crowley lo ha scritto per noi, inserendo anche verosimili note della figlia che salvò il libro dalle fiamme e dalla famiglia, affidandolo al fato come un messaggio in una bottiglia. Ogni capitolo è intercalato dallo scambio di mail fra chi ha rinvenuto il manoscritto e chi l'ha aiutata a decifrarlo ed autenticarlo. Molto originale l'idea di tre libri in uno, con tre registri completamente dive ...more
Stephen
Jul 18, 2013 Stephen rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Byron fans, regency literature fans
Recommended to Stephen by: Locus Recommended 2005
Overall Assessment: Good Read

Commentary:
Lord Byron's Novel The Evening Land is a novel of stunning craftmanship. The writing is flawless, the plot strands deftly interwoven, and the story told is subtle, engaging and interesting. At the same time I don't consider it a Keeper. I didn't respond to its themes, characters and milieu. And while I don't regret the visit, I don't see myself returning either.
Jeff
Amazing and brilliant achievement. Takes you through three layers of father/child relationships - a modern researcher and her estranged father, Lord Byron and his daughter Ada Lovelace, and the characters in the supposed novel Byron wrote and his daughter encrypted into mathematical code to protect it from her mother - who wanted to rid her daughter of any influence from her famous father. Each story advances throughout the writing and you find yourself wishing it were not fiction.
Christopher Sutch
While this is an interesting work, I didn't find it as captivating as Crowley's other novels. There is beautiful writing here, no question; that's one of Crowley's strengths, and his imitation of the "authentic" Bryonic voice, and what it might have looked like in a prose format, is interesting. But the frame narrative is not all it could be. This felt less focused than his usual, well-crafted works. Still worth reading though.
Lisa
I got this from the library because Kim recommended "Little, Big" but the library didn't have that one. I can't say that I liked this book very much, through no fault of the writing. Parts of it were interesting, and if I were a Byron fan, I probably would have loved it. I think that John Crowley did a very convincing job writing Byron's lost novel, but even if Byron had written one himself, it wouldn't be on my "to-read" list.
Owlseyes
A novel by Lord Byron,...supposedly,one he started but abandoned; someone got the document.The main character is Muslim Ali, somehow close to Byron.It's Napoleon´s time, Ali had to flee from Scotland accused of having killed his father; he becomes a hero in Spain helping the British troops;and returns to England. And of course,there's Ada, Byron's daughter, trying to understand her father.Historically interesting.
Shala Howell
I was gritting my teeth to finish this book, so I don't recommend it. The text of "Byron's novel" is overwrought at times, although I suppose that's true to what Byron would have written, so if you like Byron, have at it. The email exchanges interspersed through the text of Byron's "novel" are distracting and seem basically pointless. The notes that are theoretically by Byron's daughter are interesting, though.
Wendy
It took me a month to finish this book. I started, got bored, read other books, and finally finished. It wasn't that bad, it just didn't seem to be going anywhere. And there are soooo many unanswered questions even now that I'm done. I don't like loose ends. Also, the author italicized EVERYTHING! Perhaps that is what Byron would have done if he had really written this book but it was ANNOYING!!!
Lorien
Honestly, I skipped the "novel-written-by-Byron" parts and just read the "notes-written-by-Ada" and the epistolary storyline. When it takes me a month to get through the first chapter (well-written and dead on for voice, notwithstanding), I had to do something. It felt to me like a good novel trying too hard to be a Great Literary Novel. Just too choppy for me.
Dana
Good thing John Crowley decided to start the novel off with the wacky bait of Lord Byron's daughter writing the first computer program. If the 'novel' had started it out, I would have given up without realizing the depth of narration in time and space. Good mixed media, and challenging vocabulary even for the most jaded word buff. Recommended.
Williame
Amazing achievement built from a perillous and witty original idea, wrought in a masterfully delicate and spirited style (or rather, variety of styles) . A great success !

Characters : 3/4
Plot : 3/4
Style : 4/4
Original idea : 4/4
World-building/verisimilitude :4/4
Overall : 18/20
Carol
This was a bit difficult to get into, but once you become accustomed to "Byron's" writing style the novel within the novel just flies. Very interesting and engaging format. And since I am a distant relative of Lord Byron, I found the background information extremely interesting.
Stuart Lutzenhiser
A modern web designer who finds some manuscripts while researching Ada Lovelace finds out that they are encrypted. This is a novel within a novel within a novel. A very interesting book. I enjoyed it. It has mystery and drama and action and science. Lots of things happening.
Brad Koegler
Crowley writing as Crowley is one of the most impressive and effortless authorial voices I know, but the Foucault's-Pendulum-meets-Pale-Fire pastiche (plus a clunky imitation of what a Byron novel might sound like) didn't play to his strengths at all.
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Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the Goodreads database with this name. See this thread for more information.

John Crowley was born in Presque Isle, Maine, in 1942; his father was then an officer in the US Army Air Corps. He grew up in Vermont, northeastern Kentucky and (for the longest stretch) Indiana, where he went to high school and college. He moved to New York City after colle
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More about John Crowley...
Little, Big Aegypt (The Aegypt Cycle, #1) Engine Summer The Translator Love & Sleep (The Aegypt Cycle, #2)

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