The Glass of Time
Author: Michael Cox
ISBN: 978-0-393-33716-7, Pages: 592, $14.95, Publication Date: October 5, 2009, Paperback, Fiction, Published by: W. W. Norton & Company, Inc.
Author Michael Cox has left a legacy for the world to read. He died in March, 2009. “The Meaning of Night” published in 2005 is followed by his sequel, “The Glass of Time”. They both stand alone. Reading the first novel embellishes relationships, but character development is handled with clarity in his subsequent book.
“The Glass of Time” is a Victorian tale of inheritance, blood lines, lies, deceit, and murder.
One of the most powerful families in England since 1264 is the Baron or Baroness of Tansor. It is now 1876 and the 26th Baroness of Tansor resides on the great estate of Evenwood. The mansion is described as a house without end, filled with opulent riches.
Widow Emily Duport, the 26th Baroness, is an elegant and beautiful Lady. While her demeanor is haughty and full of pride, great sorrow haunts this lady. Many years before, her fiancé Phoebus Daunt was murdered. The Baroness has two handsome adult sons, Perseus, heir to her title and his younger brother Randolph.
Enter the heroine; orphan Esperanza Alice Gorst, who has little knowledge of her parents. She is raised by her loving guardian, the wealthy Madame de L’Orme of France and is tutored most of her life.
Madam de L’Orme demands that 19-year-old Esperanza travel to England to secure the position of lady’s maid to the Baroness. Thus begins the secretive mission her guardian describes as the “great task”. Esperanza knows she must watch, listen and report all that she discovers at Evenwood to her guardian.
When Miss Gorst is interviewed for the position, the Baroness finds her to be of good breeding. She is of the opinion that Esperanza’s dire circumstances require her to apply for the lowly position of lady’s maid. Esperanza secures the position.
Esperanza wins the trust and friendship of the Baroness which allows her to accomplish covert missions of a secretive nature. One of her assignments is to deliver a note to a woman who she discovers is drunk and shabbily dressed. Later, the woman is found dead, floating in the River Thames.
Esperanza accompanies her mistress for a short stay in London. While there, she sees Mr. Vyse, a lawyer. She perceives him to be an unscrupulous character who is often an uninvited guest at Evenwood and someone that the Baroness barely tolerates. While following Mr. Vyse through the streets of London, she observes him entering a seedy tavern in a highly unsavory area. There, he meets a man who she later learns is a known murderer for hire.
During her service to the Baroness, exploring the mansion becomes an intriguing pastime for Esperanza. She finds a secret passage, an unusual key, and important documents.
The “great task” is completed with all of its implications and complications.
This novel is mysterious, romantic, full of secrets, and a myriad of dangerous encounters. Definitely a must read for those who enjoy the pageantry of the Victorian era.