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Shades of Milk and Honey by Mary Robinette…
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Shades of Milk and Honey (edition 2010)

by Mary Robinette Kowal

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
7648412,134 (3.52)86
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

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)
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    Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen (emperatrix)
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    The Midnight Queen by Sylvia Izzo Hunter (inge87)
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    The Magicians and Mrs. Quent by Galen Beckett (foggidawn)
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English (83)  Hungarian (1)  All languages (84)
Showing 1-5 of 83 (next | show all)
Very difficult to review.

The magic was lovely - 5 stars for the idea!

Within memory, I've always loved a well-written regency book, and recently, I've developed a particular fondness for historical fantasy. This should have been my cup of tea, right?

Some of the other elements though, were less than lovely (and here's where my rating started to drop)

Throughout, I couldn't help grimacing at some of the unwieldy sentences. The author was trying far too hard! (in a manner similar to Georgette Heyer at her most painful)

Also, the publishers included comments about the wonderful tribute etc. to Jane Austen. I have read (and adore!) every one of Janes's books. This was part of my downfall...
The plot of Shades of Milk and Honey is chock-full of stolen plot segments from Jane Eyre, and all 6 of JA's novels. They jump around a fair bit, and make the book less original than I would have liked.

The female characters of the book are in turns Lizzy, Elinor, Jane Fairfax, Catherine, Lydia, Jane Bennet, Emma, Marianne, Jane Eyre, Georgiana, Anne, and more (how does the author fit so many people into so few?). The males swap between Darcy, Knightley, Willoughby, Rochester, Bingley, Edmund, Wickham, Frank Churchill, need I go on!?

Sorry for getting carried away, but you get the picture! Kowal's characters are not 'real people' so to speak, they are copies and cut-outs of other authors' work.

It's just too contrived - the heroine is a plain Jane (literally...) but ever so accomplished. Her sister is astoundingly beautiful and charming, but has no patience to practise at said accomplishments.

Time to stop this review I think...

All in all, it's a quick read (a bit unsubtle in parts). I wouldn't read it again, but I'm quite glad I did - it was a light book with some nice ideas behind it.

So despite my criticism, it's enjoyable. Don't go out of your way to read it, but if you have it, why not? ( )
1 vote Gorthalon | Dec 7, 2014 |
I thought I would like it better than I did. It's great that the characters in the book can just pull glamour out of the ether, but I would have liked to know how they did it. I'll continue with the next in series. ( )
  IceQueenTN | Oct 2, 2014 |
3.5 stars, actually.

When the Jane Austen Centre has a positive blurb on the front cover of a book, you know you've got something special.

This is the story of Jane Ellsworth, a talented near-spinster in Regency England; her beautiful but otherwise prosaic sister, Melody; and their assorted family, neighbors, friends, servants, and visitors. If you've read or seen any of Jane Austen's work, you know the drill: Everything is implied, never spoken. And in this book, this extends to the use of glamours--illusions typically used to create a mood, a scene, a feeling. Jane is quite adept in this art, which every young lady is trained in along with embroidery, music, drawing, etc.

As the book opens, a new family has come to live in the neighborhood, and Jane becomes friends with the master's sister, Beth Dunkirk, who in turn introduces Jane to her glamour teacher, Mr. Vincent. Vincent opens Jane's eyes to new ways of performing glamour, despite his scowling, taciturn manner.

At the same time, intriques, ethical questions, and class tensions are all around them. Who will Mr. Dunkirk select for a bride? How about Captain Livingston, the nephew of Lady FitzCameron? Who might be using glamour to mask shameful poverty or physical imperfections? Who is meeting whom in the dead of night?

I really enjoyed this one--it's more accessible than Austen, and much lighter in tone. The fact that it's the first in a series is a bonus. The story is a bit thin in this debut novel, and somewhat predictable if you know Austen at all, but I notice that the next two books are thicker--a good sign, I think. I'm looking forward to diving back into this world that Robinette Kowal has spun out of the ether. ( )
  Pat_F. | Jul 25, 2014 |
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. ( )
1 vote 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 |
Showing 1-5 of 83 (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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Dedication
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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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.

(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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