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Shades of Milk and Honey by Mary Robinette…

Shades of Milk and Honey (edition 2010)

by Mary Robinette Kowal

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7038113,474 (3.52)82
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
Tags:fiction, library, ILL, DLR, borrowbooks, fantasy, regency, illusion, glamour, romance, 2013, january

Work details

Shades of Milk and Honey by Mary Robinette Kowal

  1. 140
    Sorcery and Cecelia or The Enchanted Chocolate Pot by Patricia C. Wrede (trollsdotter, readr)
  2. 30
    Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke (nnicole, Jannes)
    nnicole: Magic during the English Regency.
    Jannes: Evokes the same sort of magic in a historical setting (is that a genre yet?) without straying too far inot fantasy/alt-history territory.
  3. 20
    Chalice by Robin McKinley (emperatrix)
  4. 20
    Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen (emperatrix)
  5. 00
    The Magicians and Mrs. Quent by Galen Beckett (foggidawn)
  6. 00
    A Moment of Silence by Anna Dean (SockMonkeyGirl)

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Showing 1-5 of 80 (next | show all)
I decided to read this book because John Scalzi talks often on his blog about Mary Robinette Kowal. They are good friends and she seems like she has a great sense of humour. This is the first book published by her. I can imagine lots of people who would like this fantasy remake of the Jane Austen novel but it is not my thing.

And, essentially, that is what this book is. Take any Jane Austen novel, add magic as an art form that all young well-brought-up girls should learn and that's about it. There are romances and dinner parties and long country walks and balls and scoundrels. Kowal has done a good job of evoking the Austen style but having read one I won't be looking for any more. ( )
  gypsysmom | Jul 20, 2014 |
Rather enjoyable--just wish they would explain a bit more about "glamour" and how it came to be and such. That makes it a bit confusing for younger people although it didn't offend it any way. Possible purchase. ( )
  FaithLibrarian | Jul 18, 2014 |
Reading Shades of Milk and Honey is like reading Jane Austen - if Jane Austen novels had magic. I was immediately drawn into the world Kowal crafts, the magical elements blending seamlessly into the Regency era setting. Though the story is similar in tone and feel to an Austen novel, the climax is more action-oriented than I would have expected. It was exciting to see Jane use her magic to actively influence the course of events. Although Jane is definitely not a passive or meek heroine, she does come across as naive when she fails to recognize the obvious knave in the story. Overall, Shades of Milk and Honey is not without flaws, but I still enjoyed it immensely and could barely put it down. I’m not a hard-core Jane Austen fan, but if her books were more like this, I probably would be. ( )
  les121 | Jul 6, 2014 |
Fans of Pride and Prejudice will find few surprises in the basic plot of this novel, but the charm is not in the plot so much as the texture.

Set in an alternative Regency England, it borrows Austen’s charming cads, lovesick girls, silly marriage obsessed mothers, remote but caring fathers, stern but honourable suitors, and devoted sisters with opposite temperaments. In this world, accomplished ladies create illusion magic the way they paint watercolours in less-fantastical books. Some men also do so, but as it is a womanly art, it is not very respected. Jane is an avid scholar of the art, and becomes mesmerized by a visiting artist who can do things she never thought of. Some of the description are fabulous, like this side-glance at fractals. "energy could be saved by duplicating the threads for the larger fern frond on smaller and smaller levels." Jane is approaching thirty, plain, and tells herself she is happy with a future as a spinster looking after her ageing parents. However, she has her art to console her. Until her sister... well, you can imagine.

This tale has none of Austen’s sharp wit or social commentary. Instead it’s simply charming and engaging, so it’s perfect for when you want to be enchanted but not challenged. I enjoyed it enough that I’ll chase down the sequel. ( )
  Jawin | May 10, 2014 |
Shades of Milk and Honey is a novel set in an alternate Regency England where genteel young women are expected to learn how to cast glamours as well as cover screens and knit purses. In an early scene, the protagonist Jane—a talented user of such glamours, though overlooked by many because of her plainness—tutors another young woman about glamours, showing her how the folds of light she's making are too clumsy, her stitches too obvious, the overall effect crude. This is, sadly, a good analogy of the book as a whole.

It's an amazing idea, an Austenian-inspired world in which magic is largely a female discipline, dismissed and undervalued, and the right author could make this funny and charming, like the best of Heyer, or full of wit and irony, like Austen. Kowal is not that author. The book plods, the pacing is terrible, the romance paint-by-numbers, the characterisation is completely lacking in nuance—the main characters, Jane and Melody, are both unlikeable. One is a pushover whom we're told is smart but who often acts like an idiot; the other is a vulgar brat, who acts like a more juvenile version of Marianne from Sense and Sensibility. You've probably also worked out from the latter's name that verisimilitude is not a priority of Kowal. I lost count of the number of times when I said, "But no one in Regency England would have behaved like that/said that/could have acted that way without raising numerous eyebrows." The ending descends into farce, exactly the kind of tosh that Austen was mocking in Northanger Abbey.

I want someone to take this and rewrite it. I want someone to write a Regency England with gendered magic, with a heroine who's got Lizzy Bennett's fire, who chafes at the dismissal of her abilities, who is nobody's muse. Now that is a book I would read with great satisfaction; I'm not moved to read the remainder of this trilogy at all. ( )
  siriaeve | Apr 23, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 80 (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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