Historical Fiction: The Glass of Time, by Michael Cox


The Glass of Time
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Last year when I reviewed The Meaning of Night, I characterized it as lackluster, but was interested enough to pick up the sequel, The Glass of Time. This second of Michael Cox’s novels is the stronger, but some problems persist.

On the positive side, Glass centers upon a sort of sparring match between two strong women, both of whom harbor life-altering secrets, both of whom could destroy the other. Esperanza Gorst is the daughter of the protagonist in The Meaning of Night, and her “Great Task” is to undertake the restoration of her rightful inheritance, stolen twenty years before from her father. Emily DuPort is the current Lady Tansor, and the legitimacy of her title is suspect almost immediately. Cox was an author enamored with the great Victorian writers, and he incorporates many staples of the genre. Evenwood is a gothic pile, complete with tower and intimidating housekeeper. There are two sons, the brooding heir and the spare, to whom Esperanza is attracted. The grounds are misty and woodsy, and there is no shortage of colorful, Dickensian characters, true villains and allies. A+ for characters and setting.

Too bad this promising tale takes forever to play itself out. Too bad it’s so redundant – we read about poor Esperanza’s orphaned state, about the goodness of her guardians, about the murder of Lady DuPort’s true love, over and over. Some judicious editing could have made Glass a much tauter, more suspenseful tale. Alas, it was not to be. A good basic plot, dismally overdone, often boring. C-.

Is this two volume saga (it runs to over a thousand pages) worth reading? It is, because of what it does well. Unfortunately, Michael Cox died recently, and now we’ll never know if he could have achieved greatness.

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