Title: The Meaning of Night: A Confession
Author: Michael Cox
Genre: Fiction: Historical-Fiction; Mystery
Edward Glyver has a confession to make: He’s responsible for an unsolved, entirely random murder in Victorian London. But there are untold confessions to come, starting with the fact that Glyver is not his real name, and that his true identity, as heir to one of England’s wealthiest and most influential peerages, is slowly being usurped by his childhood archrival, Phoebus Daunt.
Unwilling to accept the middle-class fate chosen for him by his mother, Edward plumbs the truth of his heritage. Deftly navigating the murky confines of London in his quest to find his mark — an unscrupulous con man who has charmed Edward’s father into making him heir to the estate — Edward succumbs to a vice that has precipitated the downfall of many before him: revenge.
Thoughts: Edward Charles Glyver, also known as Edward Glapthorn, true name Edward Duport, discovers, after rummaging through his late novelist mother’s papers, that he is not, in fact, her son. Instead, he is the son of Baron and Lady Tansor, and the only heir to one of the richest inheritances in England. In his quest to claim his true standing in society, Edward faces intrigue, murder, theft, addiction, and betrayal.
The plot of this novel quickly pulled me into this story, and Cox was obviously a talented writer. But The Meaning of Night is about 250 pages too long. It just goes on and on with descriptions of furniture, rooms, houses and clothes, and there are several dream sequences that just take up space. There were also aspects of the plot that I felt shouldn’t have been included: all that stuff with Bella and Emily I felt should have been dropped. The books just dragged on with no end in sight. I kept reading because I wanted to know what was going to happen to Edward and his quest, but by the time I finally got there, it was somewhat anticlimactic after all the effort I put in to get to that point.
I also had a problem with the fact that some of the plot twists were easily anticipated: I knew what would be the outcome with regards to Emily and the climax between Edward and his enemy, for example. There was also a problem with the characters: many of them felt flat and one-dimensional to me- the women and Le Grice especially.
Overall, the premise of this novel was interesting and I felt that it could have been something that I would really enjoy, but Cox needed his editor to reel him in more, cut the digressions, and really tighten up the novel. Whenever I finish a book I ask myself if I am glad that I read it. In this case, I am not sure that I am. There was so much potential here but I don’t feel like it was executed properly. Which is a shame, because there really could have been something here. Before he died, Cox wrote a second book in this series in what was to be a trilogy, dealing with Edward’s daughter. Although I am slightly curious about the story’s continuation, I am not prepared, I think, to read another one of Cox’s books when the effort required to complete the first one was, in my opinion, not worth the reward.