Stephen Gordon, the protagonist. The only daughter of English gentry, Stephen is baptized Stephen Mary Olivia Gertrude but is called Stephen because her father desperately wanted a son. As a child, she loathes dresses, preferring to wear pants and play as a war hero. She develops her muscles through fencing and riding and is more comfortable with her horses than at social gatherings, where she often suspects people of laughing at her. After a failed relationship with Angela Crossby, she leaves her estate, Morton, for London, where she becomes a successful novelist. During World War I, she serves as a driver with the London Ambulance Column and meets Mary Llewellyn. They fall in love and settle in Paris.
Sir Philip Gordon
Sir Philip Gordon, Stephen’s father. Aristocratic, sporting, and scholarly, Sir Philip waited ten years for a son, only to have a daughter instead. He rears Stephen much as a boy would be reared in that Victorian period. Although he is devoted to his daughter, taking her hunting and riding and reading with her in his study, his feelings are often more like pity than love. Early on, he recognizes that his daughter is not like other children, confirming his intuition by reading an influential theory of “inversion” from Richard von Krafft-Ebing. Both Stephen and Lady Anna, his wife, frequently ask him about Stephen’s apparent “oddness.” Sir Philip, hoping to protect his daughter, dismisses their concerns. He dies before he can tell either one about “what” Stephen is.
Lady Anna Gordon
Lady Anna Gordon, Stephen’s mother. The “archetype of the very perfect woman,” Lady Anna is beautiful, graceful, simple, and uneducated. She and her husband love each other passionately. Her aversion to her daughter begins soon...
(The entire section is 752 words.)