I just finished reading The Glass of Time by Michael Cox; this is a sequel to The Meaning of Night, blogged about here. The story picks up some 20 years later, when a young woman, 19-year-old Esperanza Gorst, is sent to be the maid to Baroness Tansor, the former Emily Carteret. In the previous book, Ms. Carteret was the love interest of both Edward Glyver (unrequited, in his case) and Phoebus Daunt (short-lived, in his), and to make a long story short, all ended fairly badly for everyone involved. Jump ahead to the 1870′s, and our main character finds herself enmeshed in a ‘Great Task,’ a plan that has been set in motion by people unknown to her, and the end of which is a mystery to her–all she is told, is that the woman she is sent to be maid to and ingratiate herself with, is her sworn enemy.
Ensconced in Evenwood, the estate of the ancient Duport family of which Emily Carteret is now the head, Esperanza begins to find that there are many mysterious events from the past that haunt Lady Tansor, and that no one at Evenwood, or in her own life, are who they seem to be. Esperanza also begins to find out about herself: her past, the father and mother she never knew, why she has been sent to Evenwood, and who she really is.
Like the first book, The Glass of Time has a very intricate plot and is full of atmospheric descriptions and well-realized characters. You could read this book without having read The Meaning of Night, but I would recommend starting with the first, as it adds to the fullness and complexity of the story as well as the satisfactory ending.