The Glass of Time

Written by Michael Cox
Review by Nanette Donohue

Esperanza Gorst is an orphan, raised in Paris by her guardian, the mysterious Madame de l’Orme. When she is in her teens, Esperanza’s guardian places her in the home of Emily, Lady Tansor, as a lady’s maid, and insists that Esperanza find a way into Lady Tansor’s confidence. Though Esperanza is unsure why, Madame de l’Orme promises to reveal the truth of the escapade through three letters, which she will send periodically. As Esperanza receives the letters and begins to learn the truth about her parentage and her relationship with Lady Tansor, she finds there are numerous questions waiting to be answered—and that she isn’t who she believed she was.

This is a ghost story without ghosts, a tale of family secrets revealed, past cruelties avenged, and a young woman who finds herself coming of age in a way she could never have expected. The epic, neo-Victorian narrative style, reminiscent of classic works of 19th-century literature, made me feel as if I were peeping through a keyhole and sneaking glances at a secret diary as the story unraveled. It helps to have read Cox’s first novel, The Meaning of Night, before beginning The Glass of Time, since the stories are intertwined, and questions left lingering at the end of the earlier book are resolved. All in all, a fantastic, extraordinarily detailed world to lose yourself in, and an essential read.