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Without a Summer (Glamourist Histories) Hardcover – April 2, 2013
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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 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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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.
Without a Summer is an enjoyable mix of regency adventure with a dash of romance. High recommend.
Vincent and Jane were just as awesome as ever. I love them more and more with each volume I read. Their open and honest relationship is a model I wish more romance novels followed. The dangers as they were caught up in the struggles for class equality and the consequences thereof showed in stark relief their support and love for each other.
Secondary characters were mixed. I actually really enjoyed Melody in this one. She’s a lot more three-dimensional and vibrant here, with a mind and opinions all her own. Yet, I really have to roll my eyes at certain members of Vincent’s family, especially his father. Familial intrigue is interesting to read to a point, but the Earl takes it to a new Sniddley Whiplash level at times. It seemed like there were no redeeming factors to his make up at all and that made for flat reading.
The return to more familiar stomping grounds of matchmaking, social calls, and dances also was a bit of a mixed bag. The whole deal with the coldmongers, the legalities, and Vincent’s family kept things from being as flat and boring as book one, but more than once I wished for more to the story than dialogue and social niceties.
Pretty good book overall with great characters, relationships, and intriguing historical details as they relate to this fantastical alternate world. Some secondary characters and slow sections, though, show this book’s suffering from middle-book-itis. Still a very enjoyable addition to this saga that I enjoyed to the hilt.