The Meaning of Night is a nearly perfect specimen of writing unfortunately sandwiched between a sluggish start and a somewhat predictable finish.
EvenThe Meaning of Night is a nearly perfect specimen of writing unfortunately sandwiched between a sluggish start and a somewhat predictable finish.
Even the tedious beginning was endurable (and with hindsight, might be considered to aid in an effort to create a sort of cyclical structure to the story-line) as we slowly uncover the protagonist's background and intentions. Those patient enough are rewarded with sophisticated and subtle writing.
Perhaps the most subtle aspect was my favorite, the allusions. Two on which I can readily place a finger: the story of Isaac and Ishmael (marked by the painting of Abraham and Isaac hanging in the manor) which parallels the plot's overriding question, which "son" will obtain the inheritance?; and, the theme of The Count of Monte Cristo, (marked assuredly by the use of the names "Edward" and "Daunt") pointing to Edmund Dantes' desire for revenge. (Some may consider this merely coincidental, but I cannot help but believe this was intentional.)
The protagonist himself is not a very likeable fellow and I found myself questioning whether I wanted him to obtain his goal. He was a hedonist and I often wondered if hubris would become his downfall. One would expect his foil to be Phoebus Daunt, but instead, I found a better source in Mr. Christopher Tredgold; charmingly amiable and one who made an unselfish choice based on love rather than the one Glyver made.
I was truly disappointed that my edition was not better edited. There were many cases of typos (and misspellings of major character's names: Tansor became Transor multiple times on page 480!) and I felt that there could have been a better use to distinguish between flashbacks and re-tellings and the current story (prime example on pp 455-6). And my greatest 'rolling-eyes' moment was the "monologue-ing" done near the end. I prayed the book didn't end with such a cliché and was finally satisfied with the outcome.
I read this well-titled selection at the recommendation of a good friend under the auspices that it was a mediocre gateway to an excellent3 1/2 stars
I read this well-titled selection at the recommendation of a good friend under the auspices that it was a mediocre gateway to an excellent series. I was pleasantly surprised to find it a well-written mystery to which I continually couldn't wait to return.
The complex plot and eclectic mix of characters kept it intriguing, and truly Louise Penny has a talent in sprinkling her story with one liners which begin with a delicately worded thought and then end with the "rim shot drum roll" snarky finish. Two examples:
"Peter swept aside Yogi Tea and Harmony Herbal Blend, though he hesitated a second over the chamomile. .... But no. Violent death demanded Earl Grey."
"Gamanche enjoyed going to churches for their music and the beauty of the language and the stillness. But he felt closer to God in his Volvo."
However, I felt that the pacing was a bit off, especially near the end when it felt like the story was dragging instead of climaxing... not to mention the odd sexual undertones which did nothing for the storyline (sentence placement and pun accidental, but useful here). There were also a few holes which caused me to rethink if Ms. Penny had laid everything out clearly, including WHO actually solved this crime.
Overall, Ms. Penny handles the murder mystery genre with finesse, and I will likely return to the series....more
Fun and compelling light reading. Chock full of one liners. Fantastically dysfunctional and well-developed characters. (I could have done without someFun and compelling light reading. Chock full of one liners. Fantastically dysfunctional and well-developed characters. (I could have done without some of the language, however.)...more