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Shades of Milk and Honey (Glamourist Histories) Paperback – June 7, 2011
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“If Jane Austen had written a fantasy novel, Shades of Milk and Honey 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. Give this one a try!” ―RT Book Reviews, 4 ½ stars, Top Pick!
“Readers will be disappointed only when they finish this enchanting story, which is suffused with genteel charm… With the grace of Sense and Sensibility, a touch of classic fairy tale magic, and an action-packed ending, this debut novel by an award-winning fantasy short story writer will appeal to fans of Jane Austen, Jane Yolen, Patricia Wrede, Susannah Clarke, and even Jasper Fforde.” ―Library Journal
“Cliché as it might sound, if Jane Austen had sat down to pen a fantasy, this is the book she would have written. The tone, the cadence, the sweep, every bow and curtsey of the language is woven into Shades of Milk and Honey… Kowal’s mastery is the art of the Austenite nuance… When I reached the last page I just wanted to start it all over again. It left me craving nothing but a cup of Constant Comment...and the sequel.” ―Intergalactic Medicine Show
“A beautiful, lyrical, tightly-woven meld of Jane Austen, Jane Eyre, and Beauty and the Beast--I couldn't put it down!” ―Lilith Saintcrow
“Simply enchanting, and another great advance in an already impressive literary career. You're going to love this.” ―John Scalzi
“Shades of Milk and Honey is 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
“Kowal's first novel is a beautifully told story of being true: true to love, true to family, and true to art, even when it seems that one of them must give. It's a marvelous and promising debut, and hints at more wonders to come.” ―Cory Doctorow
About the Author
Mary Robinette Kowal was the 2008 recipient of the Campbell Award for Best New Writer and a Hugo nominee for her story "Evil Robot Monkey." Her short fiction has appeared in Strange Horizons, Asimov's, and several Year's Best anthologies. Mary is an active member of Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America and currently serves on the Board of Directors.
A professional puppeteer and voice actor, she grew up in North Carolina and spent five years touring nationally with puppet theaters. She wrote Shades of Milk and Honey while living in Iceland and performing on the hit television show Lazytown. Mary currently lives in Portland, OR with her husband Rob and nine manual typewriters.
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[MILD SPOILER WARNING] To isolate my primary complaint with Shades, it would have to be the decoy love interest. It was obvious from the first few pages that this guy (he made so little impression that I can't even remember his name) was not the man for Jane, so it made the bulk of the novel incredibly tedious, as the reader has to sit through scene after scene of empty flirtation and angsty internal monologues to get to the horribly-cliched conclusion. Worst of all, this obsession with a vapid man and the constant "woe is me, I'm so ugly" reflections made me really dislike Jane.
Fortunately, Glamour in Glass is slightly better, Without a Summer is better still, and I just finished Valour and Vanity, which was AWESOME. Read this quick little novel for an introduction to the magic system, but keep your expectations low, for starters. The real fun comes in the sequels!
I was provided a free copy of this book by the author’s representative. I am 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: ✰✰✰✰✰
Yes, yes, yes! You must read this book if you like Jane Austen style stories and magic. This was wonderful. The added touch of magic to the JA style was really marvelous. I really wanted to say magical, but…well, it was!
We meet Jane Ellsworth, who is plain with a large nose and mousy brown hair. That’s her personal description of her appearance. Her sister, Melody, is gorgeous with lovely golden hair and is a happy flirt. Why would Melody be jealous of Jane? Melody took the same lessons with the same instructor when they were old enough to learn glamour. She simply doesn’t have the same talent with it. And it seems to be making a difference.
While Melody can swish in the draperies for the party, it’s Jane who has to add all the details and perfect the elements that go into what’s there so that the draperies hang just so and the tasseled tie backs are all tied at the same length. She makes the fruit arrangement in the epergne for the table setting as well since she can perfect the blush on a peach until it looks as if you should be able to bite it and the juice would run down your chin. You see, women are supposed to use their glamour for household things to enrich the home. While for men, glamour is an art.
That’s where we meet Mr. Vincent. The very mysterious Mr. Vincent. Who is he really? What makes him so rude to Jane? She was admiring his glamour and trying to see how he created it. She tried to do something similar and added a little something to it. She felt she could learn so much from an artist as great as he.
The book was paced much like a tea party. Everyone arrived and was admired for this or that. Soon, they are all settled into their places and exchange a bit of gossip. Then for the big moment, the tea and goodies are served. A cup is tipped over and tea is spilled. Someone chokes on crumbs from a tea cake. A lace hankie has been misplaced. Please, pass the glamour and gossip. Then everyone is set straight and all lost items returned to their rightful owners and people are on their way. But did they all go home with the ones they came with?
Yes, you really do need to read this book!