The School of Night

The School of Night

A Novel

Book - 2010
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"In the late sixteenth century, five brilliant scholars gather under the cloak of darkness to discuss God, politics, astronomy, and the black arts. Known as the School of Night, they meet in secret to avoid the wrath of Queen Elizabeth. But one of the men, Thomas Harriot, has secrets of his own, secrets he shares with one person only: the servant woman he loves. In modern-day Washington, D.C., disgraced Elizabethan scholar Henry Cavendish has been hired by the ruthless antiquities collector Bernard Styles to find a missing letter. The letter dates from the 1600s and was stolen by Henry's close friend, Alonzo Wax. Now Wax is dead and Styles wants the letter back. But the letter is an object of interest to others, too. It may be the clue to a hidden treasure; it may contain the long-sought formula for alchemy; it most certainly will prove the existence of the group of men whom Shakespeare dubbed the School of Night but about whom little is known. Joining Henry in his search for the letter is Clarissa Dale, a mysterious woman who suffers from visions that only Henry can understand. In short order, Henry finds himself stumbling through a secretive world of ancient perils, caught up in a deadly plot, and ensnared in the tragic legacy of a forgotten genius."-- Publisher description.
Publisher: New York : Henry Holt and Co., 2010
Description: 338 p. ; 25 cm
ISBN: 9780805090697
Branch Call Number: Baya


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Mar 23, 2018

This book was an incredibly pleasant discovery and I definitely recommend it to anyone even remotely interested in the Elizabethan period. The story is told by two narrators, one in first and one in third person. The narration alternates between 2009 and 1603, USA and England. One of the stories is a modern thriller: murders, thefts, chases, and even a treasure map with the consequent treasure hunt. But the kind of treasure indicated in the encrypted map is not what you might expect. The second story, set in the 17th century, is about Thomas Harriot (one of the most important Elizabethan scientists and intellectuals) and his love story with Margaret, a literate maid turned lab assistant. The tres d'union between these two levels of narration is the School of Night. Walter Ralegh - intellectual, soldier, courtier - falls in disgrace with Queen Elizabeth I when he secretly married one of her ladies. Exiled to his house in Dorset, he invites the most brilliant minds of his time (including Christopher Marlowe and Harriot) to create a sort of secret academy. They meet only at night and keep no records of their conversations - very dangerous conversations, about forbidden topics (paganism, atheism, dark arts, government...) - but they are free to speak their mind. They will all pay for this, all except Shakespeare, who gives the academy the name of "School of Night" in his "Love's Labour's Lost." I forgot, in the book Shakespeare is Marlowe's lover and attends some secret meetings of Ralegh's guests. Well, I enjoyed every page of this book. The historical details, the humor, the plot: everything had me hooked from the first sentence. I highly recommend this book, also as a starting point for some research into Elizabethan culture.

May 19, 2015

Based on the title and cover, I first thought I might be diving into a horror novel. But instead I found a fun read, in the vein of "The Da Vinci Code," only much better written. This book's focus is on the mysterious goings on of The School of the Night--a group of Shakespeare's contemporaries who dared to meet and explore ideas that could (and would) make them outcasts in society. There's a potential hidden treasure and codes to be broken. And lots of twists and turns along the way. So, overall, it's a pretty hard book to set down. I especially like how the author moves the story back and forth in time, allowing readers to put the pieces of the puzzle together by witnessing the actual events that the novel's protagonists are discovering on this end of history. I will definitely look for more of Louis Bayard's work.

Nov 05, 2011

Not as good as Bayard's best, but not a bad book by any means. Got a little irritated by the romance novel-ish flavor of the male/female relationships.
The twist wasn't as well tailored as others of Bayard's either. Felt a bit like Bayard has gotten used to writing twisty endings and felt obligated to do so in this book too.

Sep 29, 2011

I enjoyed reading this and joining in the adventure. Having just read Bill Bryson's "A short history of nearly everything", many of the historical figures in this were familiar to me. However, though my family comes to me as the family dictionary, I had to keep mine handy for the many words I was quite unfamiliar with!

debwalker Apr 11, 2011

"This swift, witty mystery moves between Tudor England and the present day as a group of bibliophile treasure-hunters sleuth out the lost discoveries of a secretive academy of Elizabethan intellectuals. Bayard is a master of historical texture and literary suspense!"--Mark David Bradshaw, Watermark Books, Wichita, Kan.


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dorothykeller Apr 25, 2012

Bayard (The Black Tower) shifts smoothly between present-day America and Elizabethan England in this superb intellectual thriller. At the Washington, D.C., funeral of document collector Alonzo Wax, who committed suicide, Bernard Styles, an elderly Englishman and rival collector, approaches Henry Cavendish, an Elizabethan scholar and the executor of Wax's estate, whose academic reputation suffered grievous harm after he authenticated a new Walter Ralegh poem that was later exposed as a hoax. Styles offers Cavendish $100,000 to locate a prize Wax had borrowed, a recently discovered Ralegh letter that may prove the existence of the School of Night, a secret debating club whose members included playwright Christopher Marlowe. Murder complicates the search for the letter. The author's persuasive portrayal of undeservedly obscure real-life scientist Thomas Harriot, a member of the school, enhances a plot with intelligence and depth.
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