The Glass of Time

The Glass of Time

by Michael Cox


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780393337167
Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication date: 10/05/2009
Pages: 592
Sales rank: 601,063
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.10(d)

About 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.

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.

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

"[Listeners] will find themselves deeply engaged by the elegant descriptive prose." —-Publishers Weekly Starred Review

Customer Reviews

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The Glass of Time 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 72 reviews.
Dalila21504 More than 1 year ago
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.
ItsBelle More than 1 year ago
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!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
Devine_OmegaAS More than 1 year ago
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.
lbaat More than 1 year ago
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!
intercept789 More than 1 year ago
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.
Professor_Polymath More than 1 year ago
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.
Asphyxiate More than 1 year ago
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.
AvidAudioListner More than 1 year ago
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!
wk_music More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Mr. Michael Cox has done it again. What a lovely book to read. I enjoyed
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
to read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
easily kept interest up, a lot of characters with old English names that are hard to keep track of, but still a worthwhile read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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!
Sue77 More than 1 year ago
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.
emmi331 More than 1 year ago
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!
ishgh More than 1 year ago
A victorian thriller, with twists and turns, the second generation takes care of business. that started in the first book, The Meaning of Night.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
ChristelAnastasia More than 1 year ago
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.
Devine_Omega More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
In 1876, her Parisian guardian Madame de L¿Orme directs nineteen years old orphan Esperanza Gorst to obtain work as a lady¿s maid at the home of widow Baroness Tansor. The teen succeeds though she remains ignorant of what the ¿Great Task¿ is all about. Still she tries to masquerade as a maid at Evenwood. However, everyone can see through her disguise as she has all the qualities of a lady and none of a servant. The two Tansor sons, Perseus and Randolph court her while Esperanza becomes closer to her employer. Shockingly Esperanza realizes the Baroness still grieves the death of her fiancé Phoebus Daunt murdered by Edward Glyver over 20 years ago. While still putting on a pretense though all know otherwise, Esperanza still wonders why Madame sent her undercover inside of Evenwood. --- The irony of the well written exciting Victorian thriller is those who read the first tale (see THE MEANING OF NIGHT) will know a lot more of what is happening than the bewildered Esperanza as that previous tale serves as a key to the GLASS OF TIME. Michael Cox displays his skills with that clever spin, but newcomers will enjoy THE GLASS OF TIME too because of how the author intertwines the previous plot into this story line. Readers will enjoy a great historical brilliantly enacted. --- Harriet Klausner
readerbynight on LibraryThing less than 1 minute ago
A history of mystery and secrets, ¿The Glass of Time¿ is fluid and consistently kept in its own time period of the 19th century. It is also a tragic love story with catastrophic reverberations constantly rippling outward. A story in 5 Acts, it unfolds seamlessly through the voice of Esperanza Alice Gorst and the exchanges of letters and written recollections she receives. From the moment her guardian Madame de l¿Orme tells her there is a mystery, but not what the mystery is, she takes on a new life in a new country with one goal in mind, the completion of the ¿Great Task¿. Esperanza has been cared for by her guardian and her tutor Mr. Basil Thornhaugh all her life until this point. Now they have compelled her at the age of 19 to go to England and apply to become a lady¿s maid, specifically to the twenty-sixth Baroness Tansor, in order to spy and yet become the confidante of her Ladyship.In the Prologue we first meet Esperanza, and she invites the reader into her life right away. The reader becomes a part of the story in a sense. She keeps a ¿Book of Secrets¿ as a record of what she discovers. Even though there were times throughout the book that I anticipated certain of the reveals, it did not take away from the journey and in fact enhanced it. Such intrigue, murder, mayhem, stolen birthright; all the qualities one might expect to find in a 19th century novel! Michael Cox has written this book so fluently in the language, conduct and customs of the times that I found myself surprised at the end of the book that it had been written by a man even though I knew that at the start, it read so much like a lady¿s journal. The unfolding of the history of Esperanza and the Duport family is like peeling an onion, layers upon layers of duplicity. In each Act Esperanza, now referred to as Alice, finds a little more of her history is revealed to her by letters from her guardian. There are three main letters which will contain what is required of her next in her performance of the ¿Great Task¿ with a hint of her reason for being there.The characters are well-described and grow throughout the book. The method of revealing secrets over a period of time is tantalizing. I enjoyed the book very much and would recommend it to fans of historical fiction, historical mysteries, or any other mysteries.
Kasthu on LibraryThing less than 1 minute ago
The Glass of Time is a sequel of sorts to The Meaning of Night. Set in 1876, twenty-two years after Meaning of Night ends, the book begins when Esperanza ¿Alice¿ Gorst goes to Evenwood to (ostensibly) become Baroness Tansor¿s lady¿s maid. In reality, she¿s been sent by The Powers That Be to spy on her employer, for reasons that Esperanza will not be told until later.We first met Baroness Tansor when she was Emily Carteret, engaged to Phoebus Daunt, the poet who was murdered twenty years before The Glass of Time opens. She still harbors feelings for her former flame, however, and one of the things she has Esperanza do is read from Daunt¿s work. She also has Esperanza run mysterious errands into town, much to the suspicions of Evenwood¿s housekeeper. What unfolds is a web of deception, lies, and, yes murder¿not much more than that about the plot I¿ll say, only because I don¿t want to give anything away. The Glass of Time has been one of the books I¿ve been anticipating the most this year, and it didn¿t disappoint. Cox¿s long-winded, Dickensian style won¿t be to everyone¿s taste, but I really like his mode of writing¿it sucked me right in from start to finish. His prose is descriptive, and his characters unusual and interesting. In Esperanza, Cox finds a bright, fresh, and new way to tell the story of the Tansor family. Cox¿s depiction of Victorian England is never contrived, like so many books set in that period and written lately are¿another thing I loved about The Glass of Time. Another thing I thought was excellent was that Cox (for the most part) got rid of the fiction that this is a ¿confession¿ edited and annotated by someone else for publication, using the convention of using footnotes to explain various passages. The Glass of Time is therefore that much more readable, making it only about 580 pages (the same length its predecessor might have been without footnotes). The reader figures out a long time before Esperanza does what¿s really going on; but the fun of the book is following Esperanza¿s journey. ¿I couldn¿t put it down¿ is such a clichéd sentence, but in this case¿ I really and truly couldn¿t put this book down. My only problem with this book, and maybe this will be fixed before it¿s published, is that the narrative switches back and forth from past to present tense, sometimes within the same paragraph. I don¿t know if this was intentional or not, but it¿s a bit distracting. Although Cox mentions events that took place in The Meaning of Night in this book, it¿s not entirely necessary to read it beforehand; a newspaper ¿clipping¿ about 130 pages in recaps the bare-bones storyline of The Meaning of Night. However, I would strongly suggest reading that book at some point¿aside from its footnote problem, it¿s just as good as its sequel.
historycycles on LibraryThing less than 1 minute ago
"The Glass of Time," a sequel to "The Meaning of Night," is a well written book with an intriguing story of revenge and restoration at its core. While "The Meaning of Night" was a Victorian noir mystery, "The Glass of Time" does not seem to have the elements of a mystery novel and is better termed a "resolution sequel." While the story is crafted well, the levels of suspense and intrigue are several notches lower than "The Meaning of Night." The two main characters, Emily Duport and Esperanza Gorst, are well written and fleshed out, but the cast of supporting characters seem to come and go, never allowing us to see their depths. Several of the situations within the book seem contrived, there to rush the story to its conclusion, rather than to make us wonder about the nature of the characters themselves. For those who read, and loved, "The Meaning of Night" like I did, this book does hold some fascination with the continued machinations of revenge begun by Edward Glyver, but, some of the surprises are easy to see several hundred pages in advance, although Cox does manage to hold a few small surprises close to the vest until the final chapters of the book. Overall, a worthy effort that lacks the punch of the original.
MountainsofBooks on LibraryThing less than 1 minute ago
I found this book browsing through my library¿s new books and thought I might as well give it a try. I doubted whether I¿d finish it or, tell you the truth, if I¿d even start it. You know how you check books out from the library and they stay on your shelf until it¿s time to return them? That often happens in my house.But not The Glass of Time.Once I started I was pretty much hooked. It was that good. Usually when I read a long book (this one¿s 583 pages)I find there are lulls in the story and my attention. Sometimes I skim or even skip ahead (I¿ll confess!), but The Glass of Time had a tight grip on my attention. I didn¿t want to miss anything! The slightest detail could reveal a clue into the mystery.It reminded me of a Dicken¿s novel and it still does, but even with the similarities to Dicken¿s this novel stands on its own. There were twists and turns, the unexpected, and an increasing cast of characters who all play a vital role. That¿s one thing I love about Dicken¿s he¿s all of his characters are so intricately woven into the plot that you couldn¿t spare even the smallest cameo.The Glass of Time was definitely worth the late night reading. It¿s characters and mysteries kept be eager to continue reading until all was resolved. If you like a well-thought mystery then you¿re likely to enjoy this novel.