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Glamour in Glass by Mary Robinette Kowal

Glamour in Glass (edition 2012)

by Mary Robinette Kowal

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Title:Glamour in Glass
Authors:Mary Robinette Kowal
Info:Tor Books (2012), Edition: First Edition, Hardcover, 336 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:signed, fantasy, historical fiction, met

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Glamour in Glass by Mary Robinette Kowal

  1. 00
    The Silvered by Tanya Huff (nessreader)
    nessreader: Action-adventure war thriller fantasy crossed over with regency romance mannerpunk. Both Glamour in Glass and the Silvered have a lot of plot and the action in relation to the love story, which is fine by me.

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*sighs* I'm loving these books... The style is very Jane Austen, but with magic. I like how the author keeps quite faithful to the style, even when she digresses from the typical Jane Austen subjects. And how she sticks to those subjects, even when magic or war are discussed. Jane's outlook remains firmly Jane-Austen like, even though she does change her mind about things due to her new profession and circumstances. For instance, Jane remains very conscious of propriety, even if she is sometimes annoyed by people who dismiss her because she is a woman, or when she observes different social rules in Belgium.
What I almost always dislike in books is when being pregnant diminishes a woman's capability of performing magic. Although that is also the case in Glamour in glass, I must admit that in this case, it makes sense. In other books it often seems just a ploy to introduce weakness for a woman, particularly if that woman is strong and powerful (in some cases, even a period results in weakness, for instance in the Daughter of the blood books by Anne Bishop.) Here though, it seems inevitable that performing glamour is a bad idea if you are pregnant, since already in the first book it was made quite clear that it can be dangerous to your health if overdone. Both Vincent and Jane are overcome by excessive glamour use before the author every thought of having anyone become pregnant.
Although I didn't really like the pregnancy, I love both Jane and Vincent, and even lack of glamour didn't stop Jane from contributing to science and to the war efforts. The glitches in their marriage that Jane and Vincent experience are natural to their characters and situation, and I like that even though it results in momentary unhappiness, their arguments are honest and performed with mutual respect, without unnecesary misunderstandings. And I definitely like how Jane grows character-wise, losing her pain over being plain and becoming more secure in her relationship with Vincent.
I've already started part 3 in this series, and I can totally see me reading all of them. If they keep up this level, that won't be any problem! ( )
  zjakkelien | Jan 2, 2014 |
Charming, ot the best I've read but compared to the drivel I've read lately this was enjoyable. ( )
  newskepticx | Dec 18, 2013 |
I enjoyed this second book in the Glamourist History series even more than the first--by the end I had to delay dinner for over an hour because the story was so heart-in-the-throat exciting that I could not put the book down. While Shades of Milk and Honey was sort of a Jane Austen lite with magic, Glamour in a Glass is more like Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell lite (one of my favorite books ever) and is set in 1815 while Napoleon is on the march after escaping from Elba.

Now that (SPOILER ALERT FOR THE FIRST BOOK) Jane and Vincent are newlyweds, part of the character development involves the two of them figuring out how to be a couple while working together doing glamour for wealthy clients like the Prince Regent. Vincent is not used to having anyone in his life he can trust, and Jane, though talented and determined, has insecurities, so there are some misunderstandings. For most of the book Jane and Vincent are on a working honeymoon in Brussels, which leads them into danger because its people are sharply, sometimes violently, divided in their loyalty between the newly liberated Napoleon and William I of the Netherlands.

As in the first book there are lovely descriptions of the beautiful, moving illusions that are part the magical art form Jane and Vincent are masters of, but there is also more “glamour science” because Jane and Vincent are working on an idea that would greatly expand the practical uses of their craft. Unfortunately, some players in the political conflicts are interested in the possibilities of glamour too, which ratchets up the plot tension. Book three in this charming series is Without a Summer, which I am looking forward to enjoying. ( )
  Jaylia3 | Dec 7, 2013 |
I think 2013 has seen me branching out into more sub-genres of fantasy than any other year, thanks to participating in events like the Worlds Without End's Women of Genre Fiction Reading Challenge. Once, Mary Robinette Kowal fell into the category of "An author I've never read before, but would really like to" and so the book I chose for the challenge was 2012 Nebula Award nominated Glamour in Glass.

Someone once told me that when writing a review, it helps to think about what makes a book different and why readers should care. For this one, the thing that struck me right away was the setting. But while I may have read fantasy fiction aplenty that takes place in this time period, this is the first time I've actually ventured into something with strong elements of Regency romance, complete with the stylistic conventions that bring to mind the works of Jane Austen. This is also the first time I've ever heard the term "Fantasy of manners". Hooray for discovering new things!

It wasn't until after I picked up Glamour in Glass that I discovered it was actually the second book of a sequence called the Glamourist Histories. Normally, I dislike reading books in a series out of order, more out of a fear that I'd get lost than anything. That's why I was happy to learn that you don't have to read the first book Shades of Milk and Honey to follow the story and understand what's going on. The magic system in this book, called Glamour weaving and described with textile-related metaphors, was sufficiently explained and the general idea of it is easy to pick up. I also quickly got that our main characters, Jane and Vincent, were newly married since the last book, and now they're looking forward to settling down to a life of nuptial bliss and doing Glamour together.

However, at the start of this book is also the period following the abdication of Napoleon. While Jane and Vincent are on their honeymoon in Belgium, the deposed emperor escapes exile and makes his return to France, leaving the newlyweds with no easy way to return to England.

Certainly, this book was somewhat of a departure from the kind of fantasy I usually read and the experience was very new and different for me. The language and characters' mannerisms are definitely in keeping with the time period, which I have to admit was delightful and yet frustrating at the same time. Mostly, the frustrations come from the narrator Jane and the way she dwells on issues for a long time and perceives every little indignity as a personal slight to her, especially those pertaining to marriage and her husband.

I find this still bothers me even when taking into account the era in which these books take place, a time when men and women's statuses vastly differ, so I'm not holding that against Jane. Instead, my dissatisfaction of her character stems from from her relationship with Vincent and how often their marriage feels "off". First of all, a big chunk of the novel's conflict is the result of a breakdown of communication between the two of them. I've seen this trope commonly used in romances, but I'm personally not a fan of it.

Also, despite being madly in love, the two of them don't seem to know each other very well. Awkwardly, Jane is still constantly discovering new things about her husband that surprises her or makes her doubt him, and I also found myself questioning why she so often feels the need to seek permission or approval from him for every little decision. I have to assume their courtship mustn't have lasted very long, but perhaps this is where I need to pick up Shades of Milk and Honey to find out.

Speaking of the first book, I do intend to go back and read it. Despite my problems with the main character, I thought this book was well-written and contains interesting ideas. I can't really talk about some of the issues in it without giving away too many spoilers, but suffice to say the emotional reactions of the characters are very well-described, deep, and most importantly, realistic and believable. I also love the idea of Glamour magic, which is just abstract enough to give one the sense that it's so much more than can be put into words. I'm looking forward to learning more details about Glamour in the first book, as well as in future installments of this series. ( )
  stefferoo | Jul 27, 2013 |
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Mary wished to say something very sensible, but knew not how. -- Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice
For Mom and Dad. If not for you, I would not be a writer, nor have the courage to submit. Thank you for teaching me that the arts are important.
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Supposed to be "There are few things in this world that can simultaneously delight and dismay in the same manner as a formal dinner party."  However, in the first edition, that sentence is omitted, and it begins with "Finding oneself a guest of honor only increases the presentiment of anxiety, should one be disposed to such feelings."
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Mary Robinette Kowal stunned readers with her charming first novel Shades of Milk and Honey, a loving tribute to the works of Jane Austen in a world where magic is an everyday occurrence. This magic comes in the form of glamour, which allows talented users to form practically any illusion they can imagine. Shades debuted to great acclaim and left readers eagerly awaiting its sequel. Glamour in Glass continues following the lives of beloved main characters Jane and Vincent, with a much deeper vein of drama and intrigue.

In the tumultuous months after Napoleon abdicates his throne, Jane and Vincent go to Belgium for their honeymoon. While there, the deposed emperor escapes his exile in Elba, throwing the continent into turmoil. With no easy way back to England, Jane and Vincent’s concerns turn from enjoying their honeymoon…to escaping it.

Left with no outward salvation, Jane must persevere over her trying personal circumstances and use her glamour to rescue her husband from prison . . . and hopefully prevent her newly built marriage from getting stranded on the shoals of another country's war.

[retrieved 2/16/2014 from Amazon.com]
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Newlyweds Jane and David Vincent travel to Belgium and their ability to create invisibility via glamour makes them a target for emperor Napoleon's returning forces.

(summary from another edition)

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Mary Robinette Kowal is a LibraryThing Author, an author who lists their personal library on LibraryThing.

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Mary Robinette Kowal chatted with LibraryThing members from Sep 13, 2010 to Sep 26, 2010. Read the chat.

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