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Shades of Milk and Honey (edition 2010)

by Mary Robinette Kowal

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949939,154 (3.49)106
Member:wyvernfriend
Title:Shades of Milk and Honey
Authors:Mary Robinette Kowal
Info:Tor Books (2010), Paperback, 304 pages
Collections:Library Loans, Read but unowned, Wishlist, Favorites
Rating:****1/2
Tags:fiction, library, ILL, DLR, borrowbooks, fantasy, regency, illusion, glamour, romance, 2013, january

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Shades of Milk and Honey by Mary Robinette Kowal

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Showing 1-5 of 92 (next | show all)
An interesting romance story in classic Jane Austen style with magical elements to spice it up. The story itself isn't too original, but the fantasy elements create an additional flair to the romance story. The fantasy parts are also not too overwhelming, and more so an extra part to the story. The romance is tasteful and focuses on beauty isn't everything. The writing is really well done that makes it feel like a classic book. The audiobook is narrated by the author herself, who did an amazing job. ( )
  renbedell | Jun 17, 2016 |
The basic gist of this book is Jane Austen with magic, which pretty much sold me, and it's been on my TBR since its 2010 release. In the meantime, I've loaded up on Kowal's short fiction, which I love, and have been gobbling up her writing advice via her fab writing craft podcast, Writing Excuses.

Sadly, all that time waiting lead me to an anticipation that this novel just couldn't meet. It's a fluffy fun Austen homage, breezy and brisk, but felt too short and a little too thin for my tastes.

There's a mishmash of Austen elements in this novel, from Pride and Prejudice to Emma, and it's a very fun to see what threads Kowal includes. Our heroine, Jane Ellsworth is not pretty, but gifted in the arts and skills of a proper woman, including working glamour -- magic. Her sister Melody is pretty. Their mother is a hysterical hypochondriac. Jane fancies their neighbor, Mr Dunkirk, and charms his younger sister -- who seems to be having a fling with someone she shouldn't. The moody and broody Mr. Vincent, gifted glamourist, finds offense in everything Jane does. In the end, Jane behaves as no Austen heroine would (hooray!) and is justly rewarded.

The use of magic here is very mundane -- decorative elements, some cosmetic -- and at times I forgot I was reading a fantasy, it felt so natural. Fantasy can be very hit or miss for me, but I liked the light touches and especially enjoyed the societal implications of magic -- a domestic art, to be sure, but ultimately the grand works and admiration go to the rare men who make it their craft. Still, I wanted more: more about the characters, more about glamour, more about Jane's world. (Although the hardcover is 300 pages, I swear the formatting is what gave it that page count -- this read so quickly!)

There are five books set in this world, following Jane, and I'm already on the third one.(The second book reads entirely different from this one -- less Austen-y and more ambigu-Regency, which is fine by me.)

I feel like this review is damning with faint praise, and perhaps it is. If this were a standalone, I would probably be unhappier than I am, but the remaining four books make me feel a little forgiving -- I can still try to gobble up the details I'm hungering for. Other readers may not feel so kind! ( )
  unabridgedchick | Jun 1, 2016 |
All one needs to know, is that a fleeting moment after putting this book down, sighing like a contented lady of regency, and contemplating if I could possibly fit in another hour of reading tonight; I purchased Glamour in Glass.. It so happens, that my constitution is not quite so weak as it appears.. And so, good evening fine gentle people! I have a rather riveting dinner party to attend with Jane, and I must toilet before making my appearance! Continued at Book Frivolity! ( )
  BookFrivolity | Apr 23, 2016 |
Copy says, "The fantasy novel you've always wished Jane Austen had written." First chapter here: http://www.maryrobinettekowal.com/journal/a-sample-of-shades-of-milk-and-honey-c...
The writing looks clunky, and I'm over the "older sister is plain and sensible, younger sister is beautiful and foolish" trope. Still, I might check it out...I'm a sucker for regencies. And the idea of magic as a ladylike accomplishment is one I find charming.
  wealhtheowwylfing | Feb 29, 2016 |
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 |
Showing 1-5 of 92 (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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Epigraph
Dedication
To my grandmothers, Mary Elois Jackson and Robinette Harrison who taught me the importance of family and storytelling.
First words
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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Wikipedia in English (1)

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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