Listen free for 30 days

The Meaning of Night

Narrated by: David Timson
Series: The Meaning of Night, Book 1
Length: 22 hrs and 53 mins
Categories: Fiction, Historical
4 out of 5 stars (439 ratings)

£7.99/month after 30 days. Cancel anytime


Shortlisted for the British Book Awards, Book of the Year, 2007.
Shortlisted for the Costa Coffee Book Awards, 2006

A cold October night, 1854.

In a dark passageway, an innocent man is stabbed to death.

So begins the extraordinary story of Edward Glyver, book lover, scholar and murderer. As a young boy, Glyver always believed he was destined for greatness. This seems the stuff of dreams, until a chance discovery convinces Glyver that he was right: greatness does await him, along with immense wealth and influence. And he will stop at nothing to win back a prize that he now knows is rightfully his.

Glyver's path leads him from the depths of Victorian London, with its foggy streets, brothels and opium dens, to Evenwood, one of England's most enchanting country houses. His is a story of betrayal and treachery, of death and delusion, of ruthless obsession and ambition. And at every turn, driving Glyver irresistibly onwards, is his deadly rival: the poet-criminal Phoebus Rainsford Daunt.

Thirty years in the writing, The Meaning of Night is a stunning achievement. Full of drama and passion, it is an enthralling novel that will captivate listeners right up to its final thrilling revelation.

Includes an exclusive recorded interview with the author.

Click here to see all the titles in our Whole Story Audio Books collection.
©2006 Michael Cox (P)2006 W F Howes Ltd

What members say

Average customer ratings


  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
  • 4 Stars
  • 3 Stars
  • 2 Stars
  • 1 Stars


  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
  • 4 Stars
  • 3 Stars
  • 2 Stars
  • 1 Stars


  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
  • 4 Stars
  • 3 Stars
  • 2 Stars
  • 1 Stars

Reviews - Please select the tabs below to change the source of reviews.

Sort by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Annelli
  • Ashford, Kent, United Kingdom
  • 12-11-06


A truly captivating tale, one that unravels tantalisingly yet satisfyingly. I have rarely been so swept up in a narrative, so impatient at being interrupted by real life, so eager to return to the haunts of E.G. in any of his varied guises. Where I would once have secluded myself by the fireside or by the pool to read, I now do housework and gardening oblivious to the drudgery, in thrall to my ipod and stunning works of fiction such as 'The Meaning of Night'. A masterpiece indeed!

50 of 51 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Jane
  • Sheffield, United Kingdom
  • 18-07-07

A little bit unpleasant

I'm a fan of the neo Victorian novel and this had quite a lot going for it. The central mystery is interesting, and the final explanation of it satisfying. The first person narration and flashbacks generally worked well. There was lots of suspense (if I had read it rather than listened to it, I would have said that it was a page turner).

However, I never warmed to the central character (I know he's supposed to be morally ambiguous, but I just found him unpleasant). I also felt that some of the revelations and twists were drawn out too long, or telegraphed too far in advance.

Overall it was clever and interesting, but I was quite relieved when I finally finished it and could go on to something else.

15 of 15 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Shoshi
  • Devon, United Kingdom
  • 24-09-08

Utterly Captivating

I had put this in 'My next listen' a while ago and downloaded it to my iPod, so when I started to listen, I had forgotten about it and why I'd chosen it, so everything came as a surprise. From the first few minutes I was absolutely captivated and at several points my heart rate increased dramatically! I began to wonder if this was written by a modern author or whether I was actually listening to a genuine Victorian novel as its period was so convincingly portrayed, and the style of language so authentic. I loved all the antiquarian background and warmed to many of the characters, whom I found very convincing.

My first impression of the central character was not a favourable one, but the author successfully manipulated my emotions to the extent that I felt utterly led by the nose through every highway and byway until I was rooting for 'G' with all I was worth!

Beautifully narrated, too.

A book I have no doubt I shall return to again and again.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Brilliant - loved every second !

Completely enthralled ? thoroughly enjoyed the descriptive nature of the text, it gave an understanding of the etiquette and a historical insight into the time period as the story unfolded. The mystery, twists, turns and triumphs and injustices were superb. Like other listeners; I did not want to switch off and for 22 hours of enjoyment ? it proved excellent value for money (credit). I purchased the sequel and it was equally as good.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Patricia
  • Aberystwyth, Ceredigion, United Kingdom
  • 03-11-06


absolutely brilliant - fascinating historically and what a great story - twists to the end

16 of 19 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars

Curate's egg

Beautiful and very knowlegable descriptions and great use of the Victorian 1st person, but some of the plot devices grate a little. A bit like when Le Carr? has a character expiring all day from a mortal wound, but they just live long enough to deliver half of an enigmatic clue. The worst example was when a character armed with all of the necessary paperwork to finish the story in the next two pages, knowing that he is in mortal danger, says ?I won?t give you this stuff now I?ll just ride home through this dark forest and see you tomorrow?. There are some great parts to it though.

20 of 24 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Mark
  • BANCHORY, United Kingdom
  • 06-04-07

An Excellent Listen

Very modern, yet perfectly in period. Beautifully read and pleasing to my ears.

The few minor lapses in style are easily forgiven, as the whole picture is thoroughly engrossing and interesting.

I look forward to the next novel.

Best wishes to the author in his continued fight with cancer. He has many many readers rooting for him!

7 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Julian
  • Nottingham, Notts, United Kingdom
  • 30-06-07


It has been a long time since I enjoyed a book like this one. I was totally taken away by it. Poor old E. G. One can see his mistakes happening, and you want to shout at him or, telephone the studio or something ridiculous. And of course it is all so inevitable. The thing about Michael Cox is that, he has mastered the victorian art of telling a story. Certainly, some of the devices are a bit obvious and long drawn out; it simply isn't possible to tell a complete story in this way in front of the fire with a cigar in your hand. But, what the hell, it is a magnificent story, and I for one loved it. I have even contemplated buying the actual book, just for the pleasure of seeing it on my shelves. Yes, I do read as well. And oh joy, Michael revealed in the interview at the end of it (who was the interviewer? She ought to go back to school) that there is to be a sequel! I for one cannot wait. Come back Mr. Glyver, all is forgiven.

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars


Brilliant interwoven characters and depiction of Victorian England. Deals with loss, revenge & how decisions effect those around us, often in unplanned ways. Narration very good (ie use of accents to distinguish characters) & well paced which is important in a production so long.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars


This is the best audio book I have listened to. If I did not have to sleep I would have listened to it in one sitting!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

Sort by:
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Amy Andrews
  • Amy Andrews
  • 02-07-08

great narration

A very interesting story of anger and revenge. Wonderful narration!

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Marius
  • Marius
  • 15-01-07


I enjoy most of the Victorian classic writers, but this modern attempt to emulate them simply did not work for me. John Fowles managed the trick masterfully, but Michael Cox does not. The book simply seemed to be trying too hard, with characters speaking as wooden caricatures, and cliches rolling in thick and fast. This was not helped by the narrator, who played it out as an amateur pantomime. I'm aware that the book has had rave reviews, so others may well enjoy it.

6 of 8 people found this review helpful