The Glass of Time

( 61 )

Overview

“Entirely wonderful . . . chock-full of revenge, romance, duplicity, concealed identities and murder most frequent.”—Washington Post
Building on his haunting, superbly written debut, The Meaning of Night, Michael Cox returns to a story of murder, love, and revenge in Victorian England. The Glass of Time is a vividly imagined study of seduction, betrayal, and friendship between two powerful women bound together by the past.

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Overview

“Entirely wonderful . . . chock-full of revenge, romance, duplicity, concealed identities and murder most frequent.”—Washington Post
Building on his haunting, superbly written debut, The Meaning of Night, Michael Cox returns to a story of murder, love, and revenge in Victorian England. The Glass of Time is a vividly imagined study of seduction, betrayal, and friendship between two powerful women bound together by the past.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Times Literary Supplement
“Absorbing. . . . Literary pastiche at its very best.”
Patrick Anderson
…[an] entirely wonderful mock Victorian novel, written in something like the style of Alice's favorite writer, Wilkie Collins, author of The Moonstone and The Woman in White. It's a melodrama, of course, chock-full of revenge, romance, duplicity, concealed identities and murder most frequent—but melodrama on a grand scale. By any sensible standard, Englishman Michael Cox's convoluted plot is somewhere between outrageous and preposterous. Few characters are who or what they seem, and one key figure has five distinct identities. And yet the novel's fierce suspense and endless surprises, burnished by Cox's gorgeous prose, make it irresistible.
—The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly

Set in 1876, Cox's gripping second gothic thriller (after The Meaning of Night) follows the fortunes of 19-year-old orphan Esperanza Gorst, whose guardian charges her to go undercover as a lady's maid. Without knowing precisely why she's doing so, Gorst insinuates herself into the inner circle of Baroness Tansor, the fiancée of the preceding volume's villain, Phoebus Daunt. The fake maid soon learns that her mistress has many secrets, and may, in fact, have been complicit in the death of a former servant. Cox excels at conveying his heroine's conflict over deceiving her employer, especially after learning the role the lady played in her own difficult personal history. While readers unfamiliar with the first book will find themselves deeply engaged by the elegant descriptive prose, those with the benefit of the full context and nuances of The Meaning of Night will better appreciate this sequel. (Oct.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Library Journal

When orphaned 19-year-old Esperanza Gorst is hired as a lady's maid by Baroness Tansor of Evenwood in 1876, she does not understand her role in a complex plan to restore the Duport family succession. Lady Tansor, the former Emily Carteret, still mourns for her fiancé, Phoebus Daunt, murdered two decades earlier. Through clever spying, Esperanza uncovers information about the murders of Emily's father and Daunt and about Emily's marriage and children. Letters and documents from Esperanza's guardian and others reveal the stories of her own parents and how she had been cheated of her inheritance. Yet, despite realizing that she cannot trust Emily or her unscrupulous associates, Esperanza feels affection and sympathy for the beleaguered Lady. Jealousies among Emily's sons and Esperanza fuel more misunderstandings. Speculations and explanations fill the pages of this novel, which is depicted as Esperanza's secret notebook discovered and annotated by the same editor who presented The Meaning of Night, Cox's debut, which was written from the perspective of Daunt's killer. Cox neatly incorporates the discovery of that manuscript into Esperanza's account, one of myriad connections of plot and characters that make this book an essential read for fans of the first novel. But this atmospheric and engrossing work also can stand alone as a treat for anyone who enjoys Victorian thrillers. Strongly recommended. [See Prepub Alert, LJ6/1/08.]
—Kathy Piehl

Kirkus Reviews
Cox's second pastiche of Victorian sensational fiction is doubly remarkable for its sure grasp of the genre's idiom and its strange relationship to his first (The Meaning of Night, 2006). Nineteen-year-old Esperanza Gorst arrives at Evenwood on September 4, 1876, to interview for the position of personal maid to Emily Duport, the widowed Baroness Tansor. The advertisement in which Esperanza announced her search for such a post constitutes the first of many deceptions Cox's characters practice on each other, for it was placed not by her, but by her Parisian guardian, Madame de l'Orme, and her old friend Basil Thornhaugh, Esperanza's tutor. Their successful attempt to insinuate Esperanza into Lady Tansor's service is only the first step in what they call "the Great Task," a plot so deep-laid that they can disclose its terms to her only over a period of months. Esperanza, whom everyone recognizes as far too cultured and perceptive to be a lady's maid, soon catches the eyes of both Tansor sons, the Byronic heir Perseus and his more easygoing brother Randolph, and cultivates an ever more intimate relationship with Lady Tansor, still mourning her fiance Phoebus Daunt, a bombastic poet who was murdered by his estranged Eton friend Edward Glyver more than 20 years ago. All the while she burns with curiosity to know the reason her protectors have sent her into this haunted household. But readers who recognize Daunt, Glyver et al. will be far ahead of Esperanza, who doesn't realize that her author has pressed the plot of The Meaning of Night into service as the backstory of what would otherwise be a mystery in the mold of Wilkie Collins and Mary Elizabeth Braddon. A sequel that will provide utterlydifferent but equally rewarding experiences for readers who have and haven't read its equally leisurely predecessor. Agent: Natasha Fairweather/AP Watt
From the Publisher
"[Listeners] will find themselves deeply engaged by the elegant descriptive prose." —-Publishers Weekly Starred Review
TLS
“Absorbing. . . . Literary pastiche at its very best.”
The Times
“Those who have not yet encountered the author's erudite and intricate fictions have a treat in store. . . . This is a mystery worthy of Wilkie Collins, combining all the ingredients of a Gothic romance - disinherited heroines, dissolute heroes, revenge and remorse - with a very modern sense of pace.”
Daily Mail
“Satisfyingly sinister.”
Washington Post
“Entirely wonderful . . . chock-full of revenge, romance, duplicity, concealed identities and suspense and endless surprises, burnished by . [A] delicious piece of storytelling.”
Edmonton Journal
“A terrific modern-day Victorian novel, and a true page-turner in the manner of the great works of that era. . . . The author has woven an enormous and intricate tapestry. . . . Take a chance and words.”
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780393337167
  • Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 10/5/2009
  • Pages: 592
  • Sales rank: 264,212
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Michael Cox(1948-2009) was the biographer of the ghost-story writer and scholar M. R. James. His first novel, The Meaning of Night, was shortlisted for the 2007 Costa First Novel Award.

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Read an Excerpt

Act One
A House of Secrets

I wish you, first of all, to imagine that you are standing beside me, peeping over the rail of an arched and curtained gallery, set — like the stage of some aerial theatre — high above a long and imposing room. From our vantage point, if we push our noses out just a very little way through the narrow gap in the curtains, we may see down to where the assembled company of fine ladies and gentlemen are sitting at table. The thick velvet curtains smell of time and dust, but do not mind them. We shall not be here long.

The room below us, decorated in crimson and gold, is richly furnished and, though grandly proportioned, deliciously warm, even on this chill November evening, from the heat thrown out from blazing piles of pine logs in the two great stone fire-places.

. . . .

We now come to the three members of this evening’s party in which I — and you — have a particular interest: the permanent residents of this great house.

First, of course, my Lady — the former Miss Emily Carteret, now the 26th Baroness Tansor.

Look at her. She sits at the head of the board, as a queen ought, in black and shimmering silver silk. Who can deny that she is beautiful still, or that her fifty-two years have been uncommonly kind to her? In the candlelight below us, fluttering shadows play delightfully across her pale skin (she never allows the gas to be lit: candlelight is so much more flattering).

She captivates and charms the men gathered in her Crimson-and-Gold Dining-Room. See how they ogle her when they think no one else is looking! Mr FitzMaurice, Dr Pordage, even red-faced Sir Lionel Voysey (always comically maladroit in her presence): they all fall under her spell like silly boys, and see her only as she wishes to be seen.

Naturally, her famously tragical past — a father murdered, and the great love of her life slain a month before their marriage — only increases her allure. Men, I think, are such fools, at least men such as these. If she has suffered, well, there is suffering enough in the world, and we shall each have our share before we are released.
Yet she has been richly compensated for her suffering, which is by no means the least of her attractions, especially to her bachelor admirers. Beautiful, romantically scarred by tragedy, the possessor of an immense fortune and an ancient title — and now a widow!

. . . .

The truth is that she will never marry again, and certainly not a prize fool like Mr Maurice FitzMaurice.

Marriage would bring her no material advantage. Nor will she succumb to Love again, for her heart is shut fast against all further assault from that quarter. No man can ever displace the memory of her first and last love, whose terrible death is the great affliction of her life, greater even than the murder of her father. Her late husband, Colonel Zaluski, could not do it — that at least is the common opinion. I never met the gentleman; but Sukie Prout (my great friend below stairs) says that the two of them rubbed along well enough, and that the Colonel had a smiling, accommodating way about him that made you instantly like him. I must suppose, therefore, that his wife liked him too, and that this was enough for her.

The fruits of this unremarkable union are now sitting on either side of their mother: Mr Perseus Duport, the heir to her title and fortune, on her right hand, his younger brother, Mr Randolph Duport, on her left. But they are not at all unremarkable.

Mr Perseus — who has just raised a toast to gallant Lord Edward Duport — will shortly attain his majority, and is very like his mother in appearance: tall, deliberate in movement, watchful in attitude, and with the same fathomless eyes. His hair — as dark as those eyes — is worn long, so that it falls about his shoulders in a consciously romantic way, as befits the poet he aspires to be. He is very proud of his hair, a trait that he also gets from his mother. A most handsome young gentleman, undoubtedly, made more so by a carefully tended black beard, which gives him a dangerously heroic look, exactly like the portrait of the Turkish Corsair that hangs at the foot of the vestibule stairs, and for which, on first seeing it, I thought he must have sat, had it not been painted over twenty years since.

His younger brother, Mr Randolph Duport, is nearly twenty, and is no less striking than his brother, though very differently composed. He is shorter and stockier, stronger in limb, with warm brown eyes (Sukie says they are the spit of his late father’s), a rosy, outdoors colouring, and unruly brown hair. There is not the least resemblance to his mother; nor is there any discernible trace of her temperament in him, which makes people like him far more than Mr Perseus. Unlike his brother, he has none of Lady Tansor’s haughtiness and pride. He is, by contrast, a singularly unaffected and spontaneous soul, appearing to take things as they come, and (so goes the general opinion) hardly ever thinking of consequences, for which I am told he has often felt the sting of his mother’s displeasure. Yet, possessing the uncommon ability to acknowledge his faults, which Mr Perseus appears to lack, he is said never to complain, but promises to apply himself more soberly in the future to the art of properly considering matters.

. . . .

These three persons have become the principal and constant objects of my attention in this house, to which I have been sent for reasons that — at the time of which I am writing — have not been fully revealed to me. Thus I continue to wait, and watch, as I have been instructed to do.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 61 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(35)

4 Star

(16)

3 Star

(7)

2 Star

(2)

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(1)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 61 Customer Reviews
  • Posted February 20, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    The Glass of Time

    Continuing the Victorian-style saga of hidden parentage, murder, espionage, revenge, and romance that Michael Cox began in "The Meaning of Night", "The Glass of Time" is an old fashioned "good read". It is well plotted, has rich period detail, and draws on the traditions of Wilkie Collins and the "sensation" novels of the Victorian era. Most of the plot twists do not come as a surprise, but that does not make them any less thrilling. This is the very best that "escape reading" has to offer.

    The brisk reversals of fortune, a life lived in terms of houses and relationships rather than meaningless "work" (making beds and dressing the hair of one's "mistress" seems refreshingly adventurous to today's readers, most of whom have spent our entire lives in sterile offices), the secrets and surprises, are a world one could lose onesself in for quite a long time.

    I would advise reading "The Meaning of Night" first.

    And I hope that the story is continued in a third volume.

    6 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 21, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Great!

    I read Michael Cox's "The Meaning of Night" a while ago and loved it. I have just read "The Glass of Time" and I loved it even more if that's possible. If you love London in the 1800's, mystery, murder, unsavory characters and a plot that has you reading late into the night, this book is for you. You don't necessarily have to have read "The Meaning of Night" first even though that was a highly enjoyable book, but it would help because some of the characters show up in this book again. I think this book can stand on its own but it may be better to read the books in order. I was hooked from the very first page and read this book every spare second I had. I love the time period and the writing just drew me in. I loved Esperanza's character and how she discovered clues to her "Great Task" that she had to perform. I felt as though I was actually right beside her as she attended Lady Tansor and as she was unlocking doors and listening in on conversations to gather information. Again, a great read ... over 500 pages and I wished it would have gone on way beyond that!

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 22, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Completely Enjoyable

    This is the best book I have read in quite some time. The pacing of the story, the characters, the descriptions, the plot...I wish there could be more. Just today I learned the author passed a few weeks ago. I have but maybe 50 pages left in this gem, and it will be bittersweet to finish it knowing that a third is unlikely unless it is possibly written already. Best to the author's family.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 21, 2008

    Brilliantly written!

    Mr. Michael Cox has done it again. What a lovely book to read. I enjoyed<BR/>this book just as much as "The Meaning of the Night". My admiration goes to Miss. Gorst. Her courage to work for Lady Tansor. All the secrets she had to keep from anyone knowing who she is and what her purpose for working at Evenwood. But she finally does find out whose keeping the really secret. I could not put this book down, it really is brillant book<BR/>to read.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 20, 2010

    Dense novel with lots of detail and interesting convoluted plot.

    This book is not a quick read, but the characters and plot are interesting and unusual, with occasional unexpected twists. I am a fast reader and it took me several days ( a plus in my opinion). Interesting period detail.
    I enjoyed it a lot.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted November 3, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    " A Gem"

    Shortly after using the metaphor of a "Gem" to emphasize the persona of the work itself, I'm succumbed by the notion that the term falls midstream pertaining to what this book actually is, being no less than a diamond of numerous karats. The author, Mr. Michael Cox, within this book's predecessor (The meaning of night: A confession), redundantly illustrated a greedy and compassionless scenario during Victorian times in the mere heart of England, creating a point of origin setting in motion this colossal as well as beautifully fluent piece of contemporary literature. From its lively sceneries to its strong determined characters, this tale currently transcribed at the length of two volumes will exemplify a vivid recognition of revenge in all due splendor, as well as the slightest contemplation pertaining to the fact that in the end, love will consume each and every one of our beings.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted July 20, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Fabulous!!

    This was a great book. Throughout the whole book there were clues for what would happen in the end. I thought I had figured out the ending, but I was surprised! I love when an author is clever enough to do this. Great!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 13, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Magnificent novel

    Similar to "The Meaning of Night", Michael Cox does a superb job in the art of storytelling. He articulates each scene extremely well and plays to the senses. There are not too many twists or surprises, but enough to keep you second-guessing what the truth is. A lovely story, great follow-up to the first book, and a recommended reading to anyone who loves fiction.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 11, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    A beautifully penned sequel.

    This book was almost as amazing as The Meaning of Night. I figured out quite a bit of what was going on before it was revealed but it was great nonetheless. I enjoyed this book very much.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 17, 2008

    Great Story!

    This is truly a great story! I actually listened to the audio version and had a hard time turning it off. I couldn't wait to find out what happened next. This story had so many twists. Each time that I thought I had everything figured out it would go in a different direction. Great writing by Michael Cox and outstanding narration by Josephine Bailey!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 16, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    One of the best historical fiction writers you will find.

    The Meaning of Night was one of my favorite books in a long time, so to find out a sequel was coming out was great. The book picks up 22 yrs after the Meaning of Night and builds upon the great story that it created. The characters are so well written its easy to forget its a novel. Highly recommended for anyone that likes character driven books.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 15, 2008

    I Also Recommend:

    Great Follow-Up Story

    I read the Meaning of Night and enjoyed it more and more as it went on. This book picked up right where it left off. I absololutely loved it even more than the first one. The characters are well defined and the story original. Some mysteries you will figure out, but others you will be surprised at in the end. This has become one of my favorite books. It's a must read if you enjoy character driven stories.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 1, 2012

    good book

    easily kept interest up, a lot of characters with old English names that are hard to keep track of, but still a worthwhile read.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 21, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    A unexpected but welcome sequel.

    The characters in this book were very engaging and the plot was tremendous, although I do recommend reading "The Meaning of Night" first, as I feel that would give all elements of the book more meaning to the reader. Like the first, the most interesting element of the book to me was the Victorian drama of the ends versus the means, or the struggle between personal feeling and strength of will. I only bread the book recently and am saddened to find that the author has passed away and that there will be no more writing from Mr. Cox. I am glad we received from him what we could and echo the sentiments of a previous reviewer: Bravo, sir!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 3, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Wonderfully absorbing page clicker!

    Just think if Austen's heroine had opened that chest in Northanger Abbey and had found some wonderfully Gothic diary or documents to match her expectations and vivid imagination! This book is a wonderful mish mash of 19th century influences...imagine Dickens and the Bronte sisters collaborating ...on speed. A wonderful read for a rainy day or any day, with a Dickensian feel, characters who are made memorable by their habits or/and features, no matter how small their part in the proceedings are. A masterful blend of mystery, adventure and Victorian derring-do comprising, of course, a heroine, a moody hero and a murky past peopled from all walks of life already broached in "The Meaning of Night". Murder, mystery and mayhem abounds. Read "The Meaning of Night" and then follow with this sequel. The only problem for me is that now I'm at a loss as to what to read next! It's a fun hectic roller coaster ride created by an expert in 19th century writings, and who, by turns, affectionately emulates the strengths of descriptive writing of the age and also affectionate pokes at some of the excesses of the same. Loved it and eagerly await another novel from Mr. Cox! Bravo, sir.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 2, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Worthy Sequel to The Meaning of Night

    Michael Cox does it again, with a riveting and atmospheric suspense tale in a Victorian setting. Suspend disbelief at a wildly improbable plan that is put into motion, and simply enjoy the train of events and the Dickensian characters. Slightly less dark than the first novel, this is a great and serpentine tale with plenty of twists, turns, and secrets.
    I have removed the offending spoiler (which was unintentional). Hopefully this lapse in judgment will not result in being "banned" as suggested!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 29, 2009

    As good as his first book

    A victorian thriller, with twists and turns, the second generation takes care of business. that started in the first book, The Meaning of Night.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 27, 2009

    Michael Cox's Final Legacy to Literature

    The Glass in Time is an excellent sequel to The Meaning of Darkness.
    These two books were my best 'read' of not only 2009 but, indeed of this 1st decade of the new millenium. Mr. Cox superbly draws we readers into the mid -19th century and carries us there for a a more than 1300 page journey.....far too short in my mind. These two books represent Mr. Cox's life-long desire to write the great Victorian era novel. He succeeds immensely and more's the pity with his untimely death in early 2009 we, the reader, will see no more of his brilliance.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 14, 2009

    What a wonderful and intriguing story!

    It was one of the most beautiful and satisfying mysteries I have ever read. It depicts the time and the people of that era so well, it transforms you there. For those, who have already read "The Meaning of Night" by the same author, this book will be extremely satisfying, since it brings a closure to the story that started in the first book.
    However, this book can be read independently as well.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 17, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    "A Gem"

    Shortly after using the metaphor of a "Gem" to emphasize the persona of the work itself, I'm succumbed by the notion that the term falls midstream pertaining to what this book actually is, being no less than a diamond of numerous karats. The author, Mr. Michael Cox, within this book's predecessor (The meaning of night: A confession), redundantly illustrated a greedy and compassionless scenario during Victorian times in the mere heart of England, creating a point of origin setting in motion this colossal as well as beautifully fluent piece of contemporary literature. From its lively sceneries to its strong determined characters, this tale currently transcribed at the length of two volumes will exemplify a vivid recognition of revenge in all due splendor, as well as the slightest contemplation pertaining to the fact that in the end, love will consume each and every one of our beings.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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