Stuart's Reviews > The Meaning of Night

The Meaning of Night by Michael Cox
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's review
Jul 26, 11

“After killing the red-haired man, I took myself off to Quinn’s for an oyster supper”. Thus begins “The Meaning of Night”, capturing your attention immediately, as intended. For a while, the author dwells on the psychological effect on the protagonist from having killed someone, and it reads a little like “Crime and Punishment”. So the relatively blasé tone of the first sentence is not representative of the character’s real feelings, as we see when the story goes on, and he sounds like a Victorian Raskolnikov. However the murder is a device to suck the reader in – the book then jumps back 30 years to the writer’s schooldays and worked forward again, returning to the present only at the end. That’s not a complaint. It was well done. The book then starts to take on a Jane Austen tone, before finally moving to the Wilkie Collins Victorian style. All the mixture of styles is not oppressive – I enjoyed the way the story developed, and the ending was logical and not forced. The author has many of his characters be bibliophiles, and one can’t help but feel that the author himself must be one. The book is also peppered with references to real people and this gives a strong feeling of verisimilitude; even though we know it’s fiction, you feel it could be real. A good read altogether. My only annoyance was in the proliferation of footnotes, from the first sentence and then throughout the whole book, purportedly placed by the 20th century editor to allow us modern people to understand Victorian references. This was generally unnecessary and sometimes intrusive. But a good read. Enjoy!

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