The School of Night by Louis Bayard
A Novel

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Synopsis

An ancient mystery, a lost letter, and a timeless love unleash a long-buried web of intrigue that spans four centuries

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.


 

About Louis Bayard

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A writer, book reviewer, and the author of Mr. Timothy a A writer, book reviewer, and the author of Mr. Timothy a A writer, book reviewer, and the author of Mr. Timothy a A writer, book reviewer, and the author of Mr. Timothy and "The Pale Blue Eye", Louis Bayard has written for the "Nend "The Pale Blue Eye", Louis Bayard has written for the "Nend "The Pale Blue Eye", Louis Bayard has written for the "Nend "The Pale Blue Eye", Louis Bayard has written for the "New York Times", "Washington Post", and Salon.com, among otherw York Times", "Washington Post", and Salon.com, among otherw York Times", "Washington Post", and Salon.com, among otherw York Times", "Washington Post", and Salon.com, among other media outlets. He lives in Washington, D.C. media outlets. He lives in Washington, D.C. media outlets. He lives in Washington, D.C. media outlets. He lives in Washington, D.C.
 
Published March 29, 2011 by Henry Holt and Co.. 346 pages
Genres: History, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Action & Adventure, Literature & Fiction, Crime. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for The School of Night

Kirkus Reviews

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Wax apparently commits suicide, but he also reveals his discovery to Cavendish, to Clarissa Dale, a woman Wax met at a lecture who claims psychic visions of Harriot, and to another antique book collector.

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Publishers Weekly

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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 authe...

Feb 07 2011 | Read Full Review of The School of Night: A Novel

The Wall Street Journal

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Instead she loses herself in researching the life of novelist and "romantic rebel" (as one biographer called her) George Sand, whose many love affairs make her, in Maria's mind, a paragon of independence and physical self-fulfillment: "What would George do," she asks, "why was it easier for George?"

Mar 26 2011 | Read Full Review of The School of Night: A Novel

The Wall Street Journal

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Instead she loses herself in researching the life of novelist and "romantic rebel" (as one biographer called her) George Sand, whose many love affairs make her, in Maria's mind, a paragon of independence and physical self-fulfillment: "What would George do," she asks, "why was it easier for Geor...

Mar 26 2011 | Read Full Review of The School of Night: A Novel

New York Journal of Books

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“Against all odds, against my own wishes, this is a love story.”In this uneven but often page-turning Da Vinci Code-like thriller, Henry Cavendish, a disgraced scholar forced to work menial jobs, is dragged back into the surprisingly dangerous world of academia when an old schoolmate commits suic...

Mar 29 2011 | Read Full Review of The School of Night: A Novel

Book Reporter

Henry and his mates begin the hunt, with Henry remaining dubious of the existence of any treasure.

Apr 18 2011 | Read Full Review of The School of Night: A Novel

BookPage

When disgraced Elizabethan scholar Henry Cavendish becomes executor of his friend Alonzo Wax’s estate, he thinks his biggest problem will be paying off his impractical friend’s debts and cataloguing his vast collection of manuscripts and books.

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PopMatters

Whatever its academic merits, the possible connection has proven rich enough to serve as the source of two novels in the last decade both titled The School of Night, Baynard’s work, and a novel of the same title by Andrew Wall.

Apr 06 2012 | Read Full Review of The School of Night: A Novel

Mysterious Reviews

Possibly the only significant flaw in the book is Henry's puppy love relationship, and later sleuthing partnership, with a mysterious woman he first sees at Alonzo's funeral, a lady in red (scarlet, actually) — a cliché if ever there was one — that never quite rings true.

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Shots

The Elizabethan scientist is a complex character we want to know more of, unlike his modern counterpoint, the irritating Henry Cavendish.

Mar 17 2011 | Read Full Review of The School of Night: A Novel

Washingtonian

Opening at the Folger Shakespeare Library, the novel finds ruined Elizabethan expert Henry Cavendish at the memorial service of an antiquities dealer whose suicide may have been related to his possession of an encoded letter penned by 16th-century scientist Thomas Harriot, a comra...

Mar 09 2011 | Read Full Review of The School of Night: A Novel

Reader Rating for The School of Night
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