The novel’s strong-willed and resourceful narrator.
A 19-year-old orphan, Esperanza has been sent to the great country house of Evenwood in the guise of a lady’s-maid. Her ‘Great Task’ is to expose the closely guarded secrets of her new mistress, the 26th Baroness Tansor, but in uncovering what Lady Tansor has sought so long to conceal, Esperanza is also forced to confront painful truths about herself, and who she really is.
26th Baroness Tansor
The former Emily Carteret, one of the principal characters in
The Meaning of Night, now a widow in her fifties
A proud but ultimately vulnerable and tragic figure, Lady Tansor is tormented by the consequences of her past misdeeds. As the net finally closes round her, she seeks ever more desperate measures including murder in a futile attempt to escape her inevitable fate.
The rightful Duport heir, dispossessed twenty years earlier by Emily Carteret and her lover, the poet Phoebus Daunt, as recounted in The Meaning of Night.
One of the two main ‘shadow characters’ from the past who, though not physically present, Glyver and his obsessive legacy loom over The Glass of Time like a storm cloud.
The former lover of Emily Carteret, murdered by Edward Glyver.
The second ‘shadow character’ from The Meaning of Night whose insidious presence permeates The Glass of Time.
Madame de L’Orme
Esperanza’s wealthy French guardian who sends her to
Evenwood to expose Lady Tansor’s secrets.
Like every character in The Glass of Time, however, gentle Madame de l’Orme has her own long-held secrets to hide, as Esperanza finally discovers.
Esperanza’s English-born tutor and co-director,
with Madame de l’Orme, of the ‘Great Task’.
Like Madame de l’Orme. however, in whose Parisian mansion he resides, Thornhaugh’s life is a complex web of secrets and lies, as Esperanza finally discovers.
The Duport Brothers
One of the main plot elements in The Glass of Time concerns the triangular relationship between Esperanza and Lady Tansor’s two sons, Perseus and Randolph.
For the sake of the ‘Great Task’, Esperanza is initially instructed by Madame to marry Perseus, with whom Esperanza has fallen in love.
Although her love for Perseus is returned, however, Esperanza is forced by events to give him up for his brother, whom she believes is in love with her.
Outwardly aloof, self-regarding, and acutely conscious of his position as the Duport heir, Perseus is also like Esperanza a helpless victim of the past who, in discovering the truth about himself, discovers that he has been betrayed by those he trusted most.
Lady Tansor’s younger son.
Outgoing and universally liked, Randolph is a complete contrast, in both character and appearance, to his proud, introspective brother Perseus.
But is bluff, open-hearted Randolph quite what he seems?
A sinisterly suave and ruthlessly unprincipled Lincoln’s Inn lawyer.
It is to Vyse, the former friend and criminal associate of Phoebus Daunt, that Lady Tansor unwisely turns for help. Vyse, however, holds the key to all her secrets, and seeks to exploit what he knows for his own unscrupulous ends.
Montagu Wraxall, Q.C.
A retired criminal barrister.
With a reputation as one of the most brilliant prosecuting counsels of his generation, Wraxall is the nephew of Professor Lucian Slake, the late Librarian of Evenwood and former friend of Lady Tansor’s murdered father, Paul Carteret.
With Inspector Alfred Gully of the Detective Department in London, the avuncular but quietly formidable Wraxall becomes Esperanza’s trusted ally in her mission to expose Lady Tansor’s crimes.