Caroline refers to Duncan, her ex-husband, as “That Man” for much of the novel. Their divorce was not amicable, though they just about tolerate each others’ presence for the sake of their teenage daughter Emily (who successfully plays Caroline and Duncan off against each other whenever she wants something!)
“Duncan? He’s an ugly little man with glasses that are far too large for his face. Oily grey hair and a stupid beard. You can’t miss him,” said Caroline.
Duncan, a professor at the University of Saddleton, is an expert on the life and works of Gilbert Fox-Travers, the architect of Misterley Manor. It’s how he and Caroline met, when he came to the Manor in his early twenties to do some research. Caroline’s father often accuses him of only being interested in the house and using Caroline as a way to get it.
He has also annoyed Alice:
Duncan Russell was the professor she had asked to supervise her PhD. He was the leading British expert on Fox-Travers, based at Ormsborough University, thirty miles away from Misterley over the moors. But he hadn’t thought her PhD proposal was worth more than a standard rejection letter. Because of his swift and thoughtless rejection, she privately suspected that Duncan Russell might be a bit of a shit. She wouldn’t dream of saying that to Caroline though.
‘Yes, I’ve come across Professor Russell,’ she said, as politely as she could.
‘Between you and I, he’s a bit of a shit,’ said Caroline.
Duncan is irritating, interfering and always thinks he knows best. However, increasingly, it begins to appear that perhaps, just perhaps, Duncan might have known what he was talking about after all … so can Caroline admit that he was right and accept his help? And why, after all this time, is he still trying to interfere at Misterley?