A bit of a Victorian world
While there are many good books around, it is seldom you see a piece of writing that is creative, innovative and with a sense of style.
Michael Cox’s The Meaning of Night is such a good book that is filled with intrigue and panache from the very first sentence. Indeed, it this line or so that gives the book, the initial piece to go on and see what the content has to offer.
After that it becomes the sky’s the limit, wanting to just flick page after page despite condensed writing.
I must admit I am not particularly interested in historical novels, although I read a few in the past. However, this piece, set in Victorian London and moving about the country side, sets sparkles of concepts and ideas that make the reader grappling for words.
What makes the book so good is the story line stretched over different decades dealing with terrible wrongs, growing up in different households, maternal instincts that become twisted all for the sake of revenge and love that is wasted because of greed.
All this revolves around an aristocratic household, the desire to keep the family name, treachery, and the mixing of kinship where wrongs become rights and rights become wrongs, and where “what is rightfully yours” becomes mixed up.
What is delightful the “riddle” is kept secret but the secret unveils itself through personal diaries, books and memoranda where hints at terrible things have been made are only discovered by chance and happenings.
They revolve around increasingly complex relations that become hidden secrets which need to be prized upon. In the end, these secrets are opened but in terrible consequence of murder, the knifing of the second protagonist, the one who is just about to get all.
The narrative is good, meandering between succinct good English narrative and a Victorian style that is slick, not burdensome but gives you a feeling of elation.
I did however feel at times that the structure needed more prose, the moving from one paragraph to another, or one idea to the next, maybe transitions were required and elaborations needed.
I didn’t like how the protagonist was killed by the principle actor, and thought a more elaborate plot could have been made at the end, showing an anti-climax to the book.
I didn’t feel the principle character, who went under different names, was vindicated, and his true identity as heir to one of the largest lands in England remained buried which left the reader in a frustrated state.
The novel was good though on description of London, the cold, fog and places of interest and the geographical span to Northampton and Canterbury, than I think some places are fictional to give the right setting, although you feel its England all over.
A worth-while read that is transparent yet leaves much to the mind.