Wednesday, March 25, 2009
I finally finished The Meaning of Night! I don't think I've mentioned it here, but I realized I've been reading this 700 page behemoth for a month now. Not because I didn't like it, but because this book felt long, full of descriptive passages of location and lengthy life stories of all the main characters. There are 700 page books that fly by, but for me, this one didn't. That certainly doesn't make it not worth reading, but it is a commitment.
The Meaning of Night is written as a confession, a document that it's editor believes to be true. The first words we read from narrator Edward are:
After killing the red-haired man, I took myself off to Quinn's for an oyster supper.
As you can see, it starts with a bang and we know from the beginning that our narrator is perhaps not a model citizen. Most of what follows shows how this came to be the case. Edward was brought up by his novel-writing single mother in Victorian England. His father has passed away. After a mostly quiet and unremarkable childhood Edward is sent off to school where as a lover of books he thrives and he first encounters the young main who will become the chief adversary of his life. Edward is dismissed from school in what will become just one of many wrongs against him, that shape the adult he becomes. Upon the death of Edward's mother he discovers her diaries and among them a secret that has been kept from Edward all his life, that of his birth. Thus Edward's quest begins, that to claim what is rightfully his and which will define his every action for the rest of his life.
So did I like this book? I did. The book feels very true to its period, the mid 1850's. Edward is an interesting character, on the one hand we know from the start he is a murderer, but on the other he is a great bibliophile, charming, and on some level I did agree he had been greatly wronged. As a reader it feels very strange to have sympathy for this vindictive and at times deranged man, but that is a credit to the author. The novel picks up speed, and the last 200 pages I found to be very compelling reading that I flew through. There is a twist at the end, one that I saw coming. I'm not sure if reading the description of the sequel gave it away or it just became obvious to me that things were going too well. Speaking of the sequel, it is titled The Glass of Time, and I understand that it picks up 20 years after this book ends. I am really intrigued by the description and in fact, it is what led me to read this book first. I'll certainly be reading it one of these days.
Now, to a totally different subject.
I've never been a watcher of Dancing With the Stars but one of the current contestants has captured my interest. Check out this dance which begins about 1 minute 50 seconds into the video. I'm speechless. And I love that song. Swoon.