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The Mortmain Family
Cassandra MortmainThe youngest daughter and middle child of the Mortmain family. She is the book's narrator.
- BookWorm: Loves to read.
- Daddy's Girl: She wants to be a writer, much like her father. But she is slowly losing respect for her father with very good reason.
- Drowning My Sorrows: When she realizes that she is in love with Simon, Cassandra runs to the pub to have a few glasses—only to be put off by the price.
- Impoverished Patrician: Much like the rest of her family.
- In Harmony with Nature: She loves every single season and takes great comfort in all the beauty that surrounds her home.
- The Narrator: Everything in the book is from her point of view.
- Nice Girl: Not only she can put up with Rose tantrums with kind words and smiles but she also is very kind to their pets and is discomfited by the idea of furs.
- Love Hurts: Boy does it ever when the guy you are in love with is going to marry your Gold Digger sister.
- Middle Child Syndrome: Averted. If anything, Cassandra is the most sensible and reliable of the three children, and both her father and stepmother recognize these traits.
- Writers Are Writers: She spends the book honing her writing skills.
- Smitten Teenage Girl: She falls in love with Simon.
- Zany Scheme: She formulates a plan to get her father writing again with the help of her younger brother Thomas. It involves imprisoning him in an isolated tower for a few days.
Rose MortmainThe eldest child of the family, extremely beautiful, hot-headed, and prone to dramatics, she turns out to be surprisingly steely and pragmatic as she schemes to marry into money to rescue herself and her family from their crushing poverty. She and Cassandra are particularly close and Rose shares all her secrets except one with her sister.
- Country Mouse: Has no idea how to flirt. When the Cottons come to visit the second time her blatant and over the top flirting causes them to basically blacklist the Mortmains.
- Distracted by the Luxury: Once she gets engaged all she talks about in her letters to Cassandra is her new clothes and furnishings. Especially her peach colored towels.
- Gold Digger: A somewhat justified example, depending from the point of view.
- Fiery Redhead: Slapped Neal Cotton when he nearly humiliates her.
- Redhead In Green: Is well aware of this trope. In one scene she orders a creme de menthe, a drink she hates, because of the green drink's contrast with her hair.
Thomas MortmainThe youngest child of the Mortmain family and the only son. Probably the most Book Smart of the trio, with a keen interest in science and astronomy, he attends school on a scholarship and is perpetually underfed. Until the third act, he is perpetually in the background, but he seems to take a hands-off view of his sisters' dramatics, although he is perceptive enough to be suspicious of Rose's real feelings toward Simon.
- Cheerful Child: He is actually fifteen but the characterization fits him.
- Hidden Depths: He bears poverty much better than his older sister Rose. Also his tastes in literature and art are very highbrow. Cassandra is astonished when she realizes that he gets their father's work much better than she does.
- Good Cop/Bad Cop: When he and Cassandra imprison their father in the Belmotte tower he has to take the Bad Cop role since Cassandra is a little too softhearted.
Topaz MortmainAn artist's model and the stepmother of the Mortmain children, she is genuinely kind and supportive, but also tends to be dramatic and put on deliberate poses in order to satisfy her artistic temperament. She is devoted to Mortmain, pinning most of her own artistic inspirations on being his "muse" to inspire him to write a second novel, to the point that she had sacrificed her own connections in the artistic world to live with him in poverty. She is also fond of all the children and schemes along with Cassandra to help further Rose's prospects.
- Cloudcuckoolander: Boy is she ever. Prone to strange strange, grandiose statements and communing nude with nature.
- Giftedly Bad: Her painting of the Belmotte tower was atrocious.
- In Harmony with Nature: Communing with nature is something she is deeply passionate about.
- Hidden Depths: When the Cottons first started to visit she downplayed her looks and engaging personality as not to detract attention from Rose. She also is very practical when she needs to be.
- Manic Pixie Dream Girl: Definitely.
- Wicked Stepmother: Thoroughly averted, she loves her stepchildren dearly and is especially close to Cassandra. She does have a difficult relationship with Rose but that is Rose's own fault.
- Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: The hot wife in question.
James MortmainThe patriarch of the family. A writer that has had writer's block for more than a decade.
- Abuse Mistake: The cake knife incident was far less serious than it looked to the neighbor.
- Abusive Parents: Maybe not by the standards of his time but nowadays his two incidents of physically attacking Cassandra, not to mention the various times he insults her writing would be considered abuse.
Stephen ColleyThe former maid's orphan who is like another son to the family. Except he is not.
- Bishōnen: Leda Fox-Cotton describes him as being beautiful yet still masculine. Topaz says that in her younger days she would have been unable to resist him for a minute. And Ivy Stebbings has her eye on him.
- Dogged Nice Guy: To Cassandra, too bad that she does not feel the same.
- I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: He is the one that reunites Rose with Neal by informing the latter that Rose loves him. Too bad that it did not result in Cassandra getting her love.
- Love Hurts: Poor Stephen.
The Cotton Family