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Shades of Milk and Honey by Mary Robinette…

Shades of Milk and Honey

by Mary Robinette Kowal

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Showing 1-5 of 89 (next | show all)
Jane Ellsworth is not blessed with the beauty of her younger sister Melody, but she excels in artistic pursuits such as music, painting, and "glamour," or the ability to manipulate magic to create illusions. Both Jane and Melody wish to marry well, but opportunities in their quiet neighborhood are scarce, and Jane, with her plain features, has nearly resigned herself to the fate of a spinster. Will love ever come her way?

Kowal does a good job of echoing Austen's tone, though Kowal's novel is simpler than any of Austen's. The plot is reminiscent of Sense and Sensibility, but it's not just a lifeless copy -- Kowal's story is a gracefully balanced homage with plenty of unique details. The magic system is a perfect fit for this sort of story, enhancing but not overpowering the plot. I look forward to reading more by this author. ( )
  foggidawn | Jan 26, 2016 |
I enjoyed the uniqueness of the glamour system of magic and how it impacted life in Regency England. It was interesting to visualize it in my head; I can almost picture the glamurels and embellishments to everyday life as a psychedelic trip just without the harm of LSD. LOL I did note that the details on how many aspects of the system worked were presented, and I look forward to more details in future works.

I also enjoyed the two leads and their relationship. Jane was a wonderfully practical girl who had a good head on her shoulders. Her insecurity in regards to her looks was realistic for the times as was her sense of utter propriety (though that did get tiring at times, from a reader’s perspective). And Vincent was a joy. I loved his social awkwardness (I feel his pain!!!) and his brash nature. It hid a truly passionate and artistic core that I found appealing. I found the back and forth between the two engaging, drawing me into every interaction.

Yet, for all that good, I did find the book sorely lacking in other areas. A big one was how the author tried so hard to draw inspiration from Jane Austen in the language used. It actually got very tiring, very fast. The author would incorporate old fashioned words for modern, like spelling with a z for s’s or using “shew” for “show”. Yet, that would also be mixed with modern spellings and the occasional phrase. Very jarring, to say the least. And don’t get me started on how many times the word “La” was used as an exclamation…

The secondary characters were a mixed bag. There was some change in action patterns given events to a degree, but for the most part people were acting and speaking at the end of the book as they were at the beginning. Even though relationships began and fell apart, betrayals were revealed, and a big showdown occurred at the end, nothing really changed in how people perceived the world.

Then, there’s just the general awkwardness and sedate nature of most the entire book. The atmosphere is very reminiscent of Jane Austen, which I expect the author was trying to achieve. But the general flow of the book is mostly boring or just plain strange. I found myself skimming some interactions so I wouldn’t start snoozing. And at times, interactions or sequences could be very stilted or read strangely. The final showdown at the end is a prime example. Maybe the whole showdown concept and Jane Austen doesn’t jive that well.

So a mixed bag of a book. Great characters, main relationship, and fantastic magic system make for a unique and pleasurable combination. Yet, secondary characters, stilted language, and a general atmosphere of boredom and awkwardness kept this book from a truly stellar read. I’m still going to check out the rest of the series as I like the main characters and magic. But, boy do I hope it improves from here!! ( )
  Sarah_Gruwell | Jan 13, 2016 |
Shades of Milk and Honey is absolutely lovely. I picked this book up sometime in 2013, and only started reading it this December, which I declared ARC-free.

This is a tranquil, delicate and very beautiful read which I named one of my best reads of 2014. It's quietly charming, unhurried, and if you are a fan of Jane Austin, you are guaranteed to love it.

Jane is a 28-year-old spinster, plain, good-natured, ever so patient, and her only distinction is that she is extremely gifted self-taught glamourist with an exceptional taste. On the other hand, her younger sister, Melody, is a beautiful, vivacious, self-centered empty head, who keeps casting her designs on everyone who shows her even the slightest attention.

Enter Mr. Dunkirk (Mr.Darcy slash Mr. Bingley). He has a younger sister of shy, nervous disposition and with a scandalous past, whom Jane takes under her wing. Mr. Dunkirk secretly admires Jane who likes him in return but thinks that Melody is the subject of his attention because her sister fancies him very much.

If that is not confusing yet, enter Mr. Vincent (definitely Mr. Darcy material!). An exceptional glamourist, famous and well-sought, he is hired by a local socialite for a score of festivities.

Jane is absolutely enamoured with his art, but each encounter with sourly artist only rises their hackles, and both totally misunderstand each other until a whirlwind of dramatic events which leads to happily ever after for now.

This is an exquisite, gorgeous historical fantasy, and I can't wait to read anything else Miss Kowal has to offer! Highly recommended, utterly charming. ( )
  kara-karina | Nov 20, 2015 |
'The fantasy novel you wish Jane Austen had written' - er, no. Not even so bad it was good. Boring read, dragged all over the place, banal characters, all underlaid with the constant - I'm writing like Jane Austen, I'm writing a new Pride and Prejudice, can't you tell? Why yes, I could, and it was baaaaaaad. ( )
  libgirl69 | Oct 6, 2015 |
Fans of Jane Austen, and fans of magic and romance are the perfect audience for this comedy of manners. Jane Ellsworth is the older of two sisters and feels herself quite overshadowed by the beauty and charm of her younger sister Melody. However, while Jane is plain of face, she is the more skilled glamourist of the two.

Jane's ability to weave magic into art and home decor have drawn the attentions of two men. Mr. Dunkirk is a near neighbor who is hosting his younger sister Beth. Mr. Vincent is a glamourist who has been hired by their neighbor the Viscountess FitzCameron to create a glamural in her dining room. Jane is fascinated by the art the artist is creating but less fascinated by the man himself. He is abrupt, rude, and almost mute in her presence.

The excitement in the neighborhood has to do with the recent arrival of Lady FitzCameron's nephew Captain Henry Livingston who, while engaged to Lady FitzCameron's daughter, begins to secretly court both Mr. Dunkirk's sister Beth and Jane's sister Melody. Vast amounts of drama ensue as Jane tries to sort out her sister's love life and almost accidentally discovers her own true love.

I loved the setting, world building and characters in this story and was wonderfully pleased to discover that there are four more books in this series. I can't wait to find out what is next for Jane and her love. ( )
  kmartin802 | Jul 13, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 89 (next | show all)
A quick, light read, with characters that the reader will feel right at home with.
added by Katya0133 | editBooklist, Rebecca Gerber (Aug 1, 2010)
Readers will be disappointed only when they finish this enchanting story, which is suffused with genteel charm.
added by Katya0133 | editLibrary Journal, Stacey Hayman (Jun 15, 2010)
Kowal's unique take on an overly familiar plot does hold some potential, but the magic, like her sensible protagonist, comes across as a bit too tame.
added by Katya0133 | editKirkus Reviews (Jun 15, 2010)
The story plods at a wooden pace until the climax, which achieves a sprightly comedy-of-errors froth.
added by Katya0133 | editPublishers Weekly (Jun 14, 2010)
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To my grandmothers, Mary Elois Jackson and Robinette Harrison who taught me the importance of family and storytelling.
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The Ellsworths of Long Parkmead had the regard of their neighbours in every respect.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description

Shades of Milk and Honey is exactly what we could expect from Jane Austen if she had been a fantasy writer: Pride and Prejudice meets Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell. It is an intimate portrait of a woman, Jane, and her quest for love in a world where the manipulation of glamour is considered an essential skill for a lady of quality.

Jane and her sister Melody vie for the attentions of eligible men, and while Jane’s skill with glamour is remarkable, it is her sister who is fair of face. When Jane realizes that one of Melody’s suitors is set on taking advantage of her sister for the sake of her dowry, she pushes her skills to the limit of what her body can withstand in order to set things right—and, in the process, accidentally wanders into a love story of her own. [Amazon product description 8/9/2010]
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In a Jane Austen-inspired alternate universe, two sisters, one beautiful and the other skilled in the glamour arts, test the limits of their gifts on an unscrupulous suitor.

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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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