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The City Of Invention

The book reviews of UK children's author, Brian Keaney

A Study In Thwarted Ambition

The Meaning of Night - Michael Cox

This pseudo-Victorian study in thwarted ambition is a literary tour de force. It's the tale of the rightful heir to one of the most powerful houses in England, brought up in anonymity, who learns of his true identity by chance and embarks on an all-consuming struggle to reclaim his inheritance.


The atmosphere of the period is faithfully recreated but the real strength of the book lies in the voice of the central character through which the author manages to convey so much complexity that we find ourselves sympathising with the narrator even though we learn in the very opening paragraph that he has murdered a totally innocent stranger.


It's an immensely long novel but I never found my attention flagging. This is a book for those who love to lose themselves in a novel, only surfacing from the depths of the narrative at intervals to look about with disappointment at their humdrum modern day surroundings, before plunging once more with relief and pleasure into the meticulously crafted world of the story.