When I started on ‘The Meaning of Night‘, I was slightly apprehensive just by looking at the ‘Table of Contents’. It says something like ‘ Exordium’ (meaning Commencement), ‘nominatim’ (meaning By Name) etc.. What is this language I wondered. I knew that it was Latin, but what do I know of it and for a second, thought the better of it and decided to skip this book. But then some kind of curiosity overcame me and I carried on. I am glad now, even though I have sacrificed my Friday night and now in the early hours of Saturday morning, writing this review.
This is the story of Edward Glyver, who is the son of a authoress, who is sent for studies in Eton, only to be sent back because of his fall out with Phoebus Daunt, who has a malice towards Edward and corrupts his good name. Edward not only loses his studies but also his mother at the same time and falls on hard times. He blames Daunt for his troubles and vows to avenge him. This takes deep root in his mind. Then through his mother’s journals, he discovers that there are secrets about him that have been buried. The more he uncovers them, the more he gets closer to Daunt, whom he has been avoiding until his plan for his revenge is fully ready. There comes Bella, who loves Edward and Edward in turn loves Emily. In between he takes up work with a solicitor, who treats him like his own son. Slowly when he finds the bits and pieces of his life, the more he realizes that Daunt did not only deprive him of his studies, but his on the verge of taking away his safe and secure future too. How does he avenge him, what secrets does he unfold about himself and of Daunt, does his love for Emily prove fruitful. All these form the rest of the story.
The story actually begins with Edwards confessions where he kills a random person to prove himself that he is capable of killing. That act invades his conscience and he is more troubled than his own past. The book is in 5 parts, each one dedicated to the particular event to be exposed. All these are mostly in the form of confession of Edward to his friend Le Grice. Its a 700+ page book. That itself is daunting. After every part is done, I used to check how many pages are there more. But thankfully it took me only three working days to complete it, inspite of my work load. Since it is loaded with lot of Latin words and 18th and 19th century literary works, I should say it was a little confusing for me. But thankfully those actually literary works do not matter to the story line. So it was ok, otherwise I would have been lost. I am not sure if all those references were really necessary. The story is very very slow. You need quite an amount of patience to get through to half of it. Only after the fourth part, it becomes a little faster and then in the fifth, well, you cannot put the book down. And suddenly at the end, everything fell out of place, which really gave me a slight heart attack (I was already deprived of sleep…added to that, the total collapse of Edward’s plan really caused me some depression). But not to worry, pieces were picked up and matters were resolved amicably. While reading the story, I felt like I was with Edward besides him watching what he is seeing and showing me and listening to his confessions. That is a big plus for me. The story is built like a pack of cards that we use to play, and one wrong card or slight additional pressure , it collapses and we restart it. Well this is also like that. Apart from the 700+ pages, since the literature is also Victorian style, it does take some time to get used to it and understand the words used. But if you are ready to endure all those, then you are in for a treat. Reading this book felt like hearing a nice symphony.