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The Meaning of Night (The Meaning of Night #1)

3.7  ·  Rating Details ·  7,441 Ratings  ·  945 Reviews
As a young boy, Edward Glyver always believed he was destined for greatness. A chance discovery convinces him that he was right: greatness does await him, along with immense wealth and influence. Overwhelmed by his discovery, he will stop at nothing to win back a prize that he knows is rightfully his.

Glyver's path to reclaim his prize leads him from the depths of Victorian
Hardcover, 703 pages
Published September 17th 2006 by W. W. Norton & Company (first published 2006)
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The Crimson Petal and the White by Michel FaberFingersmith by Sarah WatersPossession by A.S. ByattA Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba BrayTipping the Velvet by Sarah Waters
Best Victorian Historical Fiction Set In Britain
8th out of 196 books — 528 voters
The Name of the Rose by Umberto EcoThe Alienist by Caleb CarrThe Historian by Elizabeth KostovaThe Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz ZafónMistress of the Art of Death by Ariana Franklin
Best Historical Mystery
90th out of 1,310 books — 3,411 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Oct 28, 2007 Brian rated it it was amazing
This pseudo-Victorian study in thwarted ambition is a literary tour de force. It's the tale of the rightful heir to one of the most powerful houses in England, brought up in anonymity, who learns of his true identity by chance and embarks on an all-consuming struggle to reclaim his inheritance. The atmosphere of the period is faithfully recreated but the real strength of the book lies in the voice of the central character through which the author manages to convey so much complexity that we find ...more
Tea Jovanović
Apr 11, 2013 Tea Jovanović rated it really liked it
Ova knjiga je izazvala veliku pažnju u svetu dok je bila još u rukopisu, potom je imala dobru medijsku pažnju kad je oblavljenja... U Srbiji pe prošla potpuno nezapaženo (za Hrvatsku se ne sećam kako je prošla, tj. da li je objavljena)... Prevod je dobar... Ali knjiga nije za svačiju dušu...
Sep 23, 2011 Terry rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This book started out great. The first line, "After killing the red-haired man, I took myself off to Quinn's for an oyster supper." really hooked me. As the book continued it proved interesting, a tale narrated in the first person by a man of obvious derangement convinced of his own rationality and the fact that he is justified in any action taken towards furthering his own ends.

Cox does an excellent job of capturing the feel of a Victorian novel, and I think that may ultimately have been the p
Jan 21, 2012 Shovelmonkey1 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone looking for a fresher perspective on mid victorian lit
Recommended to Shovelmonkey1 by: the nice people on bookcrossing,com
Allow me to stop and doff my stove pipe hat to you Mr Cox, for truly you are a man who has done his research. Having recently perused the weighty tome that is The Meaning of Night, I am reacquainted with what it means to be a man obsessed. Both the protaganist and the author have their fixations but over 700 pages it is apparent that Michael Cox's obsession for mid-Victorian history and literature is as all consuming as Edward Glyvers determination for revenge.

Whether you regard the footnotes a
Feb 20, 2008 Leah rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: NO ONE
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dec 19, 2007 Dale rated it it was ok
I'm reasonably certain that this is the first book I've given 2 stars since joining GoodReads. Partly because I'm easily amused; partly because I tend to read stuff I already know I'm going to like (recommended by a friend, work of an author I've enjoyed in the past, good reviews, etc). I borrowed The Meaning of Night from my mother-in-law because I needed something to read on the commute and I wasn't buying myself new books so close to Christmas. I asked her if it was any good; her response was ...more
May 04, 2009 Lori rated it really liked it
Fellow not-so-gentle readers ripped this book a new one. Why? Mainly because it was "long". This seems to be a very common complaint in our contemporary culture. Everyone cries out for an editor. We seem to prefer our prose tight and terse and conveying "just enough".

This is another reason why my tastes are so helplessly out of my time. I enjoy wallowing in description. I actually don't mind if the author runs on a bit (or even more than a bit) if the story grabs me. In the case of this title I
I once read that there were over ten thousand books written during the Victorian period. This period that lasted roughly from the early 19th century to its close spawned some of the most popular and celebrated authors in the history of literature. Dickens, Elliot, Trollope, and the under appreciated Wilkie Collins all released great books that have been enjoyed by countless generations of readers ranging from mid 19th century lawyers to early 21st century web designers. These books have survived ...more
Apr 12, 2008 Laura rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Laura by: Mary Bennion
I was warned to persevere through the slow beginning, and after a few chapters it really does become the gripping page-turner promised in the back cover reviews. In the first sentence, the main character murders an unknown man. He shortly reveals himself to be a grossly immoral opium-eater bent on revenge — hardly an auspicious beginning even for an anti-hero, but at least an intriguing one. Soon the intrigue becomes almost palpable and the hero becomes quite sympathetic as layer after layer of ...more
colleen the fabulous fabulaphile
Jun 26, 2009 colleen the fabulous fabulaphile rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of fantasy noir and for journiers
Recommended to colleen the fabulous fabulaphile by: Libby
3 1/2

This is another book which is, in a way, hard for me to review. The book was not without its flaws. In many ways I can think of more negative things to say about the book than positive ones - but, despite that, I still liked it. I didn't love it, and I wouldn't rave about it or say that it's a must read... but it is interesting, and I wouldn't suggest you not read it, either.

The book started with promise, and I was enthralled. It was texture and sumptuous, as we journied with Edward through
May 27, 2008 Jesse rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: only my enemies
I could only get up to page 166 in this book before I gave up, thats out of about 600 pages.

This book was like the love child of Dickens and Austen, which is then orphanned and left to be raised by a commune of varrious victorian era British melodramatists. It took at least 100 pages before the author finally got to the point of telling us precisely WHY his main character needs revenge on someone. Even then, 60 pages into the story of this guys past, I'm falling asleep.

I found the characters two
Apr 21, 2008 Tripp rated it it was amazing
Michael Cox's The Meaning of Night is fantastic. It mixes the Victorian novel with the noir crime thriller to make for a completely engrossing reading experience.

While the story never leaves England, it has an epic feel. It follows the cursed life of Edward Glyver from birth in Dorset to troubled academic career to fixer for a London law firm. The tortuous path allows Cox to describe a wide range of English scenes from the hellish London to the idyllic Evenwood, home to Glyver's greatest enemy.

A quite disappointing book, so far not comparable with the second volume of this series The Glass of Time which I rated with 4 stars.

If you want to read a good victorian mystery book, please avoid this book, there are much better books on this subject.
Matt Schiariti
Nov 19, 2012 Matt Schiariti rated it it was amazing
This is one of the most unique books I've ever read. Is it because it's a murder mystery? No. Because it's told in the first person? No. What makes it unlike any other book I've read is that from the very beginning, from the very preface itself, this book is set up as if it were a true manuscript found by someone and put to publication. This goes right down to editor's notes fleshing out names, events, times and places for the reader, not all of which are made up.

It is a work of fiction though.
Apr 12, 2014 Roberto rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Perusing Goodreads or Amazon reviews written by readers ( not only about this book but about many others), I came to the conclusion that people sometimes dont know why there is a scale from one to five stars as they easily give books one star (if they didnt like something in the book not considering its other aspects) and five stars (if they enjoyed it even if it didnt deserve that five star rating). So I am in awe with some one star reviews I came across about this book: ok, I agree that the pl ...more
Feb 09, 2008 Sarah rated it did not like it
Shelves: mystery
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
May 20, 2013 Barb rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: people who like to go to very long meetings
Obviously Mr. Cox worked long and hard on this novel, it's seven hundred and three pages long AND was named one of the ten best books of the year by The Economist, the Washington Post, Booklist and Booksense. So it must be great, right?

I loved the cover, most especially the spine of the book, it's beautiful and I eagerly anticipated the story within. I fully expected to become engrossed in a fabulously long tale of treachery set in Victorian England. I love historical novels of suspense which i
Stacey (wanderlustforwords67)
Frankly I'm shocked this book has a GR's rating of 3.7. It's brilliant! It left me wanting for nothing. I read for three hours at one point and when I looked to see what time it was, I had been reading for three hours, when I guessed it had been 10 minutes. The writing is sharp and intelligent. The story was part historical fiction, part mystery, part thriller, and it had love in it, albeit twisted. This book is a good example of why I'm in love with reading. It transported me to another time an ...more
Oct 19, 2008 Simon rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Disappointingly bad, I found this poorly written historical novel about murder and revenge to be a turgid read. The author's attempts at "Victorian" prose were forced and awkward, and the contrivances of the structure clumsy and unnecessary. Add to that a predictable plot, shallow characters and gratuitous and unconvincing period detail, and you have a pretty bad book. Not recommended.
Sep 02, 2007 Duffy rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction
A book lover and a murderer... isn't that something that will make you curious why? So, I'm reading. =) lets see how it ends up tho.

A very long story... I haven't had the time to finish this yet. i'm still on the part where I can't understand what his purpose is. =) hopefully, i'll be able to finish soon.

Sept 15, 2007... I have finally finished reading this book. I can't say that I love it, but I can say that I liked it... a little.

A story full of twist, turns and mystery which have prompted
This is one is somewhere between a four and five for me, but I'm going with a five. I have really come to love Michael Cox as a writer and am saddened that his was another life ended way too soon due to cancer. He was clearly passionate about his subject material, Victorian England, and filled his novels to bursting with details of the period. There are a lot of these sort of books out there nowadays, but what I admired about this one was that it lacked the cheesiness. I adore history--always ha ...more
Feb 27, 2010 Rachel rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 12, 2012 Robert rated it it was amazing
Not only is this as "intelligent as it is beguiling", to paraphrase The New York Times review, but it is geniusly plotted. The opening of Edward killing a complete stranger in order to find out if he is capable of the act of murder, so that he may kill his lifes long enemy, not just pulls you into the narrative it curls its finger around your collar and drags you in. As the story then slowly moves back through Edwards history, somehow Cox makes him a man we are not replused by. We forget Edwards ...more
Oct 28, 2012 Lisa rated it it was amazing
“After killing the red-haired man, I took myself off to Quinn’s for an oyster supper.”

Michael Cox pulls no punches with the beginning of The Meaning of Night: A Confession. You are immediately drawn into the story of Edward Glyver, and you have absolutely no reason to like him. After all, the man just committed a cold-blooded murder. In addition to being a killer, he’s a thug, a drug-user, he patronizes prostitutes…and by the end of the book, I was rooting for him. That is quite a deficit to ove
Dani asked me why I gave this three stars, so instead of pulling out the reading journals I've been keeping since 2000, I reread it. The book is a great homage to the Victorian thriller that Cox had long edited and admired. What I found distracting were the footnotes.

The novel is one of those "true" manuscripts that has become popular in books, and to make it believable there is a bunch of footnotes that tell the reader things. There are too many and they disrupt the follow of the book for me. O
The Meaning of Night was a very engrossing read for me and I enjoyed it immensely. It’s my favourite read of the year so far, even despite its flaws. Yes, it does have its flaws.

What I found to be absolutely terrific about it was the writing.
The writing made the time period come alive for me and was such that I became totally absorbed and would totally forget about my surroundings while I read (sorry, boyfriend). But the absolute best thing about this novel for me was the voice of the main cha
Robert Cohen
Apr 11, 2014 Robert Cohen rated it really liked it
I gave this 4 stars, perhaps unfairly as I could not help comparing it to Wilkie Collins' The Woman in White, the ne plus ultra of Victorian suspense/mystery/thriller novels. I almost didn't read it, until I saw a review inside the front cover that said "Resonant with echoes of Wilkie Collins and Charles Dickens.........". That did it. I knew I had to read the book, and I was not disappointed. My point is that the book is really 5 stars, but compared to The Woman in White, well, I had no choice ...more
Mar 01, 2012 Mary rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Truly an amazing work of Gothic mystery/literary fiction. Beginning with the discovered confession of the protagonist, Edward Glyver, a tale of obsession in extreme unfolds over a narrative that incorporates facts, fiction, bibliophilic references to peak the interests of all readers and numerous footnotes to promote a sense of authenticity. Not an easy book to review without the book sounding dull or pondering, but the plot is so well played out that it is difficult to give too many details wit ...more

I'm a little conflicted on how to rate this book. After reading some reviews I know that I feel like most of the readers here. I really enjoyed the plot of this novel, and thought at times it was suspenseful and interesting. But it was such a drag to read. The prose is a chore to get through. I am glad I read it, but will probably never be reading it again.
Bonnie G
Jul 20, 2007 Bonnie G rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anglophiles and mystery readers
The author included spectacular amounts of detail from Victorian England, even to the details of the invention of photography. The story moves slowly, but if you love English novels of the Victorian period, it mimics them and improves on them. Dean thinks the ending could have been better, including an additional manuscript which includes a description of Glyver inheriting the estate from his exhiled position. Perhaps he would discover a document that would conclusively earn him the estate and a ...more
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Michael Andrew Cox was an English biographer, novelist and musician.
He also held the position of Senior Commissioning Editor of reference books for Oxford University Press.
More about Michael Cox...

Other Books in the Series

The Meaning of Night (2 books)
  • The Glass of Time (The Meaning of Night, #2)

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“For Death is the meaning of night;
The eternal shadow
Into which all lives must fall,
All hopes expire.”
“After killing the red-haired man, I took myself off to Quinn’s for an oyster supper.” 16 likes
More quotes…