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Without a Summer (Glamourist Histories) Hardcover – April 2, 2013

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Editorial Reviews


The setting and the intricate techniques of glamour manipulation continue to intrigue, and the thoughtful portrayal of the difficulties of Jane and Vincent's affectionately nontraditional partnership is thoroughly engaging. (Publishers Weekly on Glamour in Glass)

Kowal does a startlingly good job of presenting a mindset that is very alien to me.... The language was delightfully in keeping with the time period, while not being needlessly cumbersome and opaque. The story and characterization were lovely, and I enjoyed the world-building, too. (Patrick Rothfuss, bestselling author of The Wise Man's Fear, on Glamour in Glass)

About the Author

MARY ROBINETTE KOWAL was the 2008 recipient of the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer and a Hugo winner for her story "For Want of a Nail." Her short fiction has appeared in Strange Horizons, Asimov's, and several Year's Best anthologies. She also writes the Glamourist History series, which began with Shades of Milk and Honey. A professional puppeteer and voice actor, she spent five years touring nationally with puppet theaters. She lives in Chicago with her husband Rob and many manual typewriters.

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Product Details

  • Series: Glamourist Histories (Book 3)
  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Books; First Edition edition (April 2, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0765334151
  • ISBN-13: 978-0765334152
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1.9 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (44 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,101,456 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Mary Robinette Kowal is the author of Shades of Milk and Honey (Tor 2010). In 2008 she won the Campbell Award for Best New Writer, and in 2011, her short story "For Want of a Nail" won the Hugo Award for Short Story. Her work has been a finalist for the Hugo, Nebula, and Locus awards. Stories have appeared in Strange Horizons, Asimov's, and several Year's Best anthologies as well as in her collection Scenting the Dark and Other Stories from Subterranean.

Mary, a professional puppeteer and voice actor, has performed for LazyTown (CBS), the Center for Puppetry Arts, Jim Henson Pictures and founded Other Hand Productions. Her designs have garnered two UNIMA-USA Citations of Excellence, the highest award an American puppeteer can achieve. She also records fiction for authors such as Kage Baker, Cory Doctorow and John Scalzi.

She is the Vice President of Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. Mary lives in Portland, OR with her husband Rob and over a dozen manual typewriters. Visit

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By H. P. on April 2, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Without a Summer is the sequel to Glamour in Glass and the third volume in Kowal's Jane-Austen-with-magic Glamourist Histories. It could, I think, be enjoyed without reading the two prior volumes, but I would suggest starting with Shades of Milk and Honey. As the title suggests, Without a Summer is set in 1816, or the Year Without a Summer. The weather figures prominently in the plot, along with previously (albeit thinly) introduced glamourists called Coldmongers, the Luddite movement, and that second-most English of pursuits, the denigration of the Irish.

I greatly preferred Shades of Milk and Honey to Glamour in Glass, so I was glad to see Without a Summer is a bit of return to the latter. Jane and Vincent are back in England, Jane's younger sister's search for a husband becomes a plot point again, and Jane's miscarriage and the glamour in glass are largely ignored, if not forgotten. Which is not to say that Jane and Vincent do not continue to bear emotional and physical scars from the events of the last book.

Kowal wisely returns to her forte, witty dialogue and romantic intrigue. The love and tribulations of Jane and Vincent's marriage is given deep attention to great effect. Again, Jane's ambition outpaces her ability for tradecraft. Kowal, on the other hand, is much more comfortable in this milieu. She deftly pulls the strings of a admirably complex plot and, in the process, delivers some phenomenal legal theater.

Disclosure: This review is of an ARC won in a random drawing.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By M Nicole Knowlton on April 2, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Why I read this book:

Mary Robinette Kowal is among my current favorite authors to read. Largely this is due to her series, the Glamourist Histories and getting to know her through her podcasting and social media (and paper letter) presence. I was lucky enough to win an advanced copy of the third book in her series, Without a Summer.

My one sentence summary:

Jane and Vincent return to London to resume their work and find Melody a husband but end up uncovering a plot to change the balance of power within the government.


Once again Kowal level of detail about regency customs and couture are a treat to read. I felt for Jane and Melody having to tromp through the mucky streets of London. The romance between Jane and Vincent deepens as they settle into a routine only to be confronted by their past or their own sort-comings. The flaws in Kowal's main characters make them more real and likable. I'm a sucker for political intrigue. As soon as there were hints of rebellion brewing, I was hooked. Vincent's family is particularly terrifying, but Jane holds her own among that den of vipers. Once again the last 100 pages were real page turners and I didn't want to put the book down once the climax started to evolve.


The pacing at the beginning was closer to the first book in the series rather than the second. By page 100, I was starting to get a little worried. Then Kowal started pulling together the strands she had sprinkled in between the drawing room drama of finding Melody a husband. My only big complaint was the lack of reference to the Jane and Vincent's tragedy at the end of the second book. They resume their behind closed doors relations without concern as to the potential consequences.

Final verdict:

Without a Summer is an enjoyable mix of regency adventure with a dash of romance. High recommend.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Kurt Joseph Pankau on April 14, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Full disclosure: I alpha read on this book, ergo, my name is in the acknowledgments. And I'd be lying if I said that didn't make me a little excited.

The third book in Kowal's Glamourist Histories follows Jane and Vincent to London with Jane's sister Melody. Jane and Vincent are working for a Baron and hoping to find Melody a husband amid, but their plans are complicated by riots and a seemingly endless winter.

I've enjoyed Kowal's other books, and I'd place this one at the same level as Glamour In Glass. Without a Summer is less overtly dramatic, but the story is more personal and feels a bit more plausible because of it. It starts a little slowly, but by chapter two I was engaged and I read the last third in basically one sitting. Kowal layers in some themes of intolerance with a deft hand.

More than that I don't want to say, except that if you enjoy fantasy you should give this series a chance. It's singularly unique in the genre and while I'm hardly in the demo for this sort of book, a well-written anything can be quite good.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Meredith J. Mansfield on April 5, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I read this in three days. I never do that. I like to savor a book, but sometimes one just pulls me onward. This was one of those.

Jane and Vincent's relationship just continues to grow through adversity--and they have some adversity to face in this one. And I'll be interested to see how Melody's character develops now, too. (I didn't much care for her in the first book.)

In fact, my only complaint is that I've finished it already. Now I have to find something else to read and I doubt it will be as good.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Heather Rose Jones on December 14, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
Back when I reviewed the first two books in this series, I observed "It seems implausible that no one is exploiting [glamour] on a grunt-level commercial scale. In such a context the physical cost of using the ability suggests some rather horrifying potential consequences of that exploitation." As was pointed out in comments to that post, the third book addresses exactly this topic, with the protagonists Jane and Vincent getting dragged into the resulting social and political upheaval. The "year without a summer" (an actual historic event due to worldwide volcanic fallout) has simultaneously undermined the market for the services of coldmongers and led to them being blamed for the unseasonable weather.

Jane and Vincent have come to London to refurbish the glamurals in the house of an Anglo-Irish aristocrat, bringing Jane's still-unmarried sister Melody with them as a treat. A chance encounter with a persecuted coldmonger, Melody's attraction to the son of their employer, and the son's involvement with political unrest in the coldmongers' guild results in a legal, political, and very personal tangle that forms the crux of the story.

I enjoy Kowal's world-building and the precise and measured way she works to recreate prose appropriate to her era. The magical techniques are familiar now, so less time is spent immersed in the technical details. The interactions between the sisters are believable and their relationship continues to develop. This is, when it comes down to it, a relatively simply-structured story and follows tropes that are familiar enough to be predicted. There is no doubt that Melody will fall for the apparently-unsuitable young man, or that he will be be vindicated.
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