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Shades of Milk and Honey (edition 2010)

by Mary Robinette Kowal

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
7118213,267 (3.52)82
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)
  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 81 (next | show all)
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. ( )
  pfflyernc | 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. ( )
  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 |
Showing 1-5 of 81 (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.

(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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