It took me a long time to finish Michael Cox’s The Meaning of Night; it was almost 700 pages. But that doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy it, I really did. This book was beautifully intricate, detailed, and intelligent. Edward Glyver is our narrator, and begins his story by confessing to the murder of an anonymous man. He then proceeds to take us through his life leading up to this moment. His life’s objective is revenge, and his enemy is Phoebus Daunt, a young man Glyver feels in inextricably linked to, and blames for most all of his problems. When Glyver finds that he is in fact the secret heir to Daunt’s soon-to-be inheritance, Glyver will stop at nothing to reveal the truth and defeat his greatest enemy.
The Meaning of Night impressively describes Victorian life, and is full of many (many) references to ancient and precious literature. It is the only fiction book I’ve read that has footnotes, which I first found annoying, but soon grew to appreciate because of the tone it lent to the book. These footnotes as well as many other details allowed Cox to present his novel as if it were a true account found on the bookshelves of an old estate, after remaining hidden for 100 years.
Glyver is an excellent narrator, and after 700 pages I found I had grown attached to him and his story. He is a maddening combination of righteous and sinister, vengeful and loving. While Glyver has one mission, he was never one-dimensional. The Meaning of Night is an impressive novel, featuring a tormented narrator in Victorian world.