The Meaning of Night
Michael Cox
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Buy *The Meaning of Night* by Michael Cox online

The Meaning of Night
Michael Cox
W.W. Norton
704 pages
October 2007
rated 5 of 5 possible stars

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Set in London, this exquisite novel is a combination of Victorian sensibilities and Dickensian detail, the drama played out against a background of moral outrage, class warfare and a devilishly clever love triangle, a world defined by style and class, a manís position everything in determining his future prospects.

In a delicious and riveting narrative, Edward Glyver reveals his circumstances through a series of confessions to friends, unraveling a lifetime of injustice and deceit at the hands of his nemesis, one Phoebus Rainsford Daunt. What begins as a paean of betrayal ends in murder, the inevitable set in motion years before the event actually takes place.

Trapped in the infamy of his position, Glyver revisits his life as a student at Eton, where he first meets the Daunt. Even then, Daunt has made plans to leave his mark on the world through grand literary accomplishments, welcoming any opportunity for advancement. Unfortunately, the gullible Glyver is the perfect foil for Dauntís nefarious plans.

Were Phoebus of a different nature, Glyverís future might have been otherwise. Unfortunately, Dauntís perfidy leads to Edwardís expulsion from Eton and a lifelong obsession with the revenge of his vanquished dreams. Within the rigid constructs of Victorian mores and a carefully structured society, Daunt and Glyver engage in an epic battle waged beyond the ken of those around them.

It is easy to imagine Glyverís outrage or Dauntís sly arrogance, their gentlemenís apparel a fitting disguise for the roiling emotions of mutual enmity. A struggle enjoined all those years ago at Eton, this competition can only end in tragedy for one of them. Which gentleman that shall be remains in question: ďAn advantage, however small, is everything to the resourceful man.Ē

The oddments of Victorian sentiment frame the language of time and place, a relationship defined by untruths, exaggerations and the particular eccentricities of an era that renders judgment of a man though his wealth and position. The grand theme of revenge and betrayal plays out on a nineteenth-century stage; a long-buried secret is exposed.

Edwardís familiarity with the darker side of the city serves him well in his constant pursuit of redress. Meanwhile, Daunt blazes brilliantly through a world that embraces his talent and accomplishments, an unbeatable adversary who outwits his foe at every turn.

The streets of London filled with men of wealth and a teeming criminal underbelly, Cox has fashioned a superbly literate tale of the treachery wrought by greed, years of duplicity and the ultimate collision of truth and falsehood.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at © Luan Gaines, 2006

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