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Glamour in Glass (Glamourist Histories) Hardcover – April 10, 2012
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“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
“This is a wonderful book. Kowal has taken such care grounding her story in the time and place in which it's set that the addition of magic is truly seamless. Jane is a superb heroine.” ―RT Book Reviews
“Prepare to settle in and snuggle up in your comfiest chair; once you start reading, you won't want to stop.” ―Library Journal
“Will appeal to fans of Jane Austen, Jane Yolen, Patricia Wrede, Susanna Clarke, and even Jasper Fforde.” ―Library Journal on Shades of Milk and Honey
“Kowal sets her own mark on this kind of comedy of manners and creates a low-key and witty debut novel, one that succeeds through understated humor and sprightly prose, rather than through absurd juxtapositions of the historical and the supernatural.” ―San Francisco Chronicle on Shades of Milk and Honey
“Shades of Milk and Honey could easily fit into Austen's canon, except of course for the inclusion of magic. Kowal has captured both the style and content of an Austen novel, adding her own speculative fiction twist...hits all the high points of Austen's dialogue and plotting while still having its own identity.” ―The Jane Austen Center on Shades of Milk and Honey
“If Jane Austen had written a fantasy novel, [this] would have been the result. Written with painstaking attention to detail, Kowal's prose is serenely evocative of the time period, and the fantastic elements are a seamless fit. The characterization is extremely well done and Jane is a sympathetic, strong and intelligent heroine whose devotion to her family trumps nearly every other concern.” ―RT Book Reviews, 4 ½ stars, Top Pick!, Seal of Excellence winner on Shades of Milk and Honey
“A lovely, smart, strange novel with everything on earth (and elsewhere) to recommend it. Smoothly crafted with a flair for romance and mystery, this story is one part meticulous manners and one part wild magic--composing a whole that's utterly irresistible.” ―Cherie Priest on Shades of Milk and Honey
“A beautiful, lyrical, tightly woven meld of Jane Austen, Jane Eyre, and Beauty and the Beast--I couldn't put it down!” ―Lilith Saintcrow on Shades of Milk and Honey
“Simply enchanting, and another great advance in an already impressive literary career. You're going to love this.” ―John Scalzi on Shades of Milk and Honey
About the Author
Mary Robinete Kowal was the 2008 recipient of the 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. Mary is an active member of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America and currently serves on the board of directors.
A professional puppeteer and voice actor, Mary grew up in North Carolina and spent five years touring nationally with puppet theaters. She currently lives in Portland, Oregon, with her husband, Rob, and nine manual typewriters.
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I purchased a copy of this book at the current price. I am voluntarily providing an honest review in which all opinions are fully my own. I am not being compensated in any way.
~ Judi E. Easley for Blue Cat Review
My Review: ✰✰✰✰✰
Book Two in the series is just as good as Book One was! This one is Jane and Vincent’s story. They’ve gotten married and they go off on a honeymoon rather than to visit her parents after a dinner with Prinny, as he asked Jane to call him. It was a high society dinner Jane had no experience with and ended strangely with a long wait for Vincent while he added something the Prince had asked him to add to the glamural they had created. Jane ends up being sent home by Prinny and his mistress in a carriage and Vincent comes home in the wee hours exhausted and in a rather bad mood. Jane is in her own bad mood when she finds out he stayed to change something that they had designed together. Two grumpy people in one marriage! Yikes!
People at the dinner kept asking Jane about her trip to the continent, but Jane knew nothing about it. She tried to cover up with neutral comments until she could speak with Vincent the next day. That’s when she found out they were going on a honeymoon and that Prinny was providing them transport on a ship in two day’s time. So nice of him! But why hadn’t Vincent discussed this with her?
On the continent, Napolean is still on Elba, and all is well between the French and Brits. But French society has always been a bit (?) looser than British society and Jane gets her eye-full at one dinner when the ladies don’t leave when the port is served. The goings-on rather insults and embarrass her in fact. The French have a good laugh at her expense and she bears up under it well, but not happily. In England, only the Prince brings his mistress to the table with polite society!
For about half of this book, Jane is unaware of what her husband is actually doing. She just knows he’s acting strangely and isn’t telling her anything. She’s terribly tempted to spy on him when the English-French maid they have returns his travel desk’s key to her one day with some laundry. But she’s a good wife and doesn’t snoop. She returns the key to him. But she soon knows what’s going on and Napolean is loose again and headed in their direction.
Jane suffers an incident after working glamour and faints. The doctor is called and she is told she cannot work glamour until this is over. She is not happy about this, but she complies. Until it is their lives or glamour. It has the expected results and Jane feels terribly guilty about it. But she also feels other feelings that she hadn’t expected. She really needs Vincent’s support, and he rises to the occasion and surrounds her with love and care.
There are no sex scenes as this is a JA re-tale. The violence is referred to after the fact or downplayed politely, off in the distance. It’s all in what might be considered JA style. The pace is good. Things move along and you go right along with them. If there is any problem, it’s the distraction of the glamour students, but they are only red herrings.
In true Jane Austen style, every time Jane has to go somewhere, she writes to someone to tell them where she is going and with whom. Even when she runs off into the face of Napolean’s approaching army! Jane Austen would be so proud of her! I know I was! Hope you enjoy reading this second installation in the Glamourist Histories! I highly recommend it. I’ve already bought the third one.
It's not just that the author tells but doesn't show. She very carefully *explains* and *repeats* just in case the reader didn't get her points the first few dozen times. The book opens with the author making sure the reader knows that in the previous volume, protagonist Jane, Lady Vincent had a miscarriage and now isn’t sure if she can have children or even wants them, because if she had them she might not be able to continue her work. I appreciate the effort to recap so the reader doesn’t have to buy all the books. But then, the author conscientiously works in these points every single chance she gets, throughout the book. Then, from previous books we know that Jane’s husband tends to overdo it when working glamour/magic, to the point of fainting and even on occasion to the brink of death. His frailties, and Jane’s wifely admonishments not to overdo it, are constantly present. When Vincent collapses from exertion in yet *another* scene and Jane flutters round him *again*, and they have that wise little talk about marital control/cooperation yet *again*, I was going, no, please no, no, no, and put the book down yet again. Then the glamour is a kind of ethereal weaving technique with the author constantly giving the names of the various knots, which are in a glossary, but who cares? There’s an awful lot of narrative consisting of Jane ties this knot, and then she ties another knot, and then her husband ties a knot, and on occasion other people tie knots, and then they tie them off. And on, and on, and on, and on, and on, and on, and on. It’s exactly like reading a technical manual, except there’s no chance of learning anything useful.
Meanwhile, aside from all the potentially thrilling action being rendered insufferably tedious in this manner, the characters are cardboard. Readers will probably know the two protagonists' handful of characteristics from previous novels, and these people don’t develop any further. There’s a stock villain with a stock financial motivation. The henchpeople barely register as people. There’s Lord Byron, and the author assumes everyone knows what he’s like already. There are a number of characters who extensively aid the protagonists, but their motives are unclear and their personalities nonexistent. It's impossible to emotionally engage with these books.
Avoid this book. Avoid this series. If you’ve been hoping it will improve, it doesn’t. Oh, and Jane's fertility issues look like they're intentionally being left open for resolution in yet another book. My speculation is that because the Vincents constantly discover ground-breaking techniques, they will discover how a female glamourist can be a wife and mother. Giving the author the opportunity to beat the reader around the head with yet more social education about how this is a good thing. Because that's another problem--the author seems to think marital happiness, women working, and social diversity are things no one else has ever heard of before, so readers all need to be carefully educated, and educated, and educated . . .