Lord Byron's Novel

Lord Byron's Novel

The Evening Land

Book - 2005
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One of the most accomplished literary artists of our time, John Crowley has given us fiction that illuminates and astounds -- from the wonder and whimsy of Little, Big to the poignancy and lyrical beauty of The Translator. Now he turns his unique genius in a different direction to imagine the novel the great, haunted, and enigmatic Romanticpoet Lord Byron never penned ... but very well might have.

Documents discovered in a rotting old trunk in an English storage room prove that the manuscript of a novel by Byron once existed, and that it was saved from destruction, read, and annotated by Ada, Countess of Lovelace, a brilliant mathematician and Byron's abandoned daughter, during the final, agonizing months of her young life. While the curious mystery of what became of the manuscript itself is explored, we are permitted to read it -- the whole of Byron's only novel -- beginning to end.

And what a novel it is -- a thrilling romance chock-full of treacheries and deceits, loves and fortunes gloriously gained and tragically lost; a tale of blood, vengeance, and mystery, of thrilling escapes and ruthless murder. Yet in the story of Ali -- the bastard son of the demonic Lord Sane, torn from his life in high Albania to be raised a proper, if penniless, English gentleman -- Ada finds gripping revelations of its author's hidden character, and glimpses into the secrets of his soul.

John Crowley's masterly creation is, in itself, a stunning and unprecedented act of literary impersonation. But Lord Byron's Novel is much more, weaving strands from different centuries into an extraordinary tapestry of loss and discovery, and the powerful, invisible threads that eternally bind parent to child. It is the story of a dying daughter's poignant attempt to understand the famous absent father she longed for to her last day, and the contemporary tale of the determined young woman who, by learning the secret of Byron's manuscript and Ada's devotion, reconnects with her own father, who was driven from her life by a crime as terrible as any Byron was accused of. John Crowley's novel is a wonder -- a modern masterwork that moves, enlightens, and satisfies on every level.

Publisher: New York : William Morrow, c2005.
Edition: 1st ed.
ISBN: 9780060556587
Branch Call Number: FICTION Crowley John 2005
Characteristics: 465 p. ;,24 cm.
Alternative Title: Evening land


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Sep 09, 2009

It was a dark and stormy night. Sitting around the fire in the rainy gloom of 1816, Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin, her poet-boyfriend Percy Shelley, and their host told ghost stories to scare the bejeezus out of each other. Mary later became Mary Shelley and her ghost story became the legendary masterpiece Frankenstein. Shelley himself, we know, quickly gave up his ghost story to encourage his new wife to publish hers. Their host on that fateful night was none other than poet extraordinaire Lord Byron. He wrote a few hundred words about the mysterious death of an old man, and left it at that?or did he? Thus we reach the premise of John Crowley?s Lord Byron?s Novel: The Evening Land. We get to read this long-lost novel, painstakingly imagined by Crowley, as a mad, gothic story about the sensational life of one Ali Sane. It is accompanied by thoughtful footnotes from Byron?s daughter Ada, who, besides saving her estranged father?s manuscript from her scorned mother, was a brilliant mathematician in her own right. And finally, we read emails to and from Alexandra "Smith" Novak. Alexandra is researching Ada?s life for a website about women scientists, and she stumbles across a series of complex numerical columns that Ada wrote in the mid-19th century. To decode this mystery, Alexandra must turn to her own estranged father, who is also an expert Byron scholar. This circular plot pairs the romantic style of Lord Byron with modern communications and advanced math?no easy feat. But Crowley almost perfectly mimics Byron, and he breathes real life into the characters of Ada and Alexandra as they attempt to reconnect and recreate a vision of their lives that they never fully had. Rewriting an actual lost novel is one of the more intricate ways to incorporate a story within a story, but Crowley is well up to the challenge.


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