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

4.4 out of 5 stars 46 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“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
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (46 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,292,603 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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.

Kudos:

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.

Quibbles:

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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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Jane and Vincent are back home in England after the defeat of Napoleon. They come home to a country reeling under multiple threats - the unseasonably cold weather is threatening crop failures, the soldiers who fought Napoleon are being mustered out and are looking for jobs, and technical inventions causing workers to lose jobs that can be done by machine. On the more personal side, Jane is worried that her younger sister Melody doesn't have any matrimonial prospects.

When Jane and Vincent get a commission for a glamour from Lord and Lady Stratton in London, they accept and take Melody along in hopes of expanding her pool of potential husbands. Of course, London also throws them back into the arena of Vincent's father Lord Verbury. To say that Vincent and his father don't get along would be a gross understatement.

Melody falls for Lord Stratton's son despite the fact that he is Catholic which causes Jane some misgivings as she believes that Alastar O'Brien won't be allowed to marry Melody. Her misgivings increase when she overhears some things that lead her to believe that he is involved in some sort of conspiracy and when she sees him in conversation with Lord Verbury.

Mr. O'Brien also does some work with the coldmongers who are being wrongfully blames for the current weather conditions. Coldmungers are young men and boys whose magical skill is to lower the temperature a few degrees. They are used to keep food safe for longer periods and to provide cool breezes in warm houses. They have only small magics which are dangerous to use. Most die young. They are planning a peaceful march in London.

However, Lord Verbury has other plans. He wants to use the coldmunger's march to overthrow a political rival. His twisted plot draws in Jane and Vincent too.
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