Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

Shades of Milk and Honey by Mary Robinette…

Shades of Milk and Honey (edition 2010)

by Mary Robinette Kowal

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,050968,021 (3.51)110
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


Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 110 mentions

English (95)  Hungarian (1)  All (96)
Showing 1-5 of 95 (next | show all)
Initially, I was far from impressed with Mary Robinette Kowal’s Shades of Milk and Honey. It was too obvious that the author was trying to resurrect the spirit of Jane Austen with a little fantasy thrown in. It seemed she was trying too hard and the resulting story felt alien to me. Eventually, the story began to gel, though. It wasn’t Austen, but it wasn’t really meant to be either, was it? This is an homage with a twist, and it works satisfyingly well.

The characters are very Austenian. From the aptly-named Jane and her sister Melody, two sisters united in love, but divided in temperament, to their mother, a hypochondriac obsessed with finding matches for her daughters. The potential suitors: the handsome, but vengeful Mr. Dunkirk, the successful Captain Livingston, and the brooding artist, Mr. Vincent. Drop these characters into the English countryside and the balls of their neighbors, sprinkle in a few engagements and scandals, and one can almost forget the contemporary authorship of this novel.

Shades of Milk and Honey’s fantasy element comes from the existence of “glamour,” an art some are trained in as other’s are trained in paints or pianoforte. By shaping strands of ether and manipulating light, practitioners of glamour weave together what seems like magic. That’s the full extent of fantasy in this novel. No time travel. No magical creatures. It’s so subtle it’s almost nonexistent. And frankly, it doesn’t add much outside of lyricism; still, I’m glad it’s there as it gives this story an element that makes it unique from other Regency era clones.

What separates Shades of Milk and Honey most from an Austen novel is the sense of action. Comparatively, Shades… is action-packed and it seems foreign to the classic light-hearted Regency romp. When bullets started to fly, I was again pulled out of the story. It all works out in the end, but it does have a glaring strangeness to it.

This is a series I’ll return to, though I’m not sure how soon. I think I’d feel some guilt reading the next book in this series without returning to the original first—and by original, I of course mean Austen. ( )
  chrisblocker | May 7, 2017 |
With a writing style that echos Jane Austen, and storylines that seem familiar but with a twist of magic, Ms. Kowal creates a lovely story with that most famous of conflicts: the getting and keeping of an eligible man! Lots of fun to read. ( )
  tjsjohanna | Nov 16, 2016 |
I enjoyed this book a lot more than I thought I would; I wasn't sure what I'd think about it. I have heard of it as a cross between [b: Sense and Sensibility|14935|Sense and Sensibility|Jane Austen|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1397245675s/14935.jpg|2809709] and [b: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone|3|Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (Harry Potter, #1)|J.K. Rowling|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1361572757s/3.jpg|4640799] or [b: Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell|14201|Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell|Susanna Clarke|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1450962900s/14201.jpg|3921305], which I think is as good an explanation as any to give people some bearing for this book. Having said that, read the Grinch's review because she makes some good points.

This first book is setting up the series and the universe of the Glamourist Histories. However, when I was reading the book, I thought I was reading a retread of Pride & Prejudice or Sense & Sensibility. Regency England? Check. Sisters who must at all costs find a husband? Check. One beautiful sister, one "old maid"? Check. There's even a dance at this book's Netherfield; a young woman in the neighborhood with a questionable past; and a dashing yet dastardly man who fools everyone. There was little that was unique in this book save the use of "glamour", a sort of magic that exists in this alternative universe (more on that in a moment). The constant--and I'm not kidding, it did feel constant--remarking upon how Jane was so plain, how she had no marriage prospects, how her nose was too large or something else was wrong with her was needlessly excessive. I'm not exactly sure why it was required to beat readers over the head with just how homely and undesirable Jane is, because I'm not convinced the story was made stronger or took different meaning from it. Had the characters been younger, it could have been the same story of two sisters who are very different and perhaps a bit competitive; there was nothing in particular in this story that required Jane to be older, nor for there to be an age gap between the sisters.

As I said, I enjoyed it quite a lot for some reason, but there were some real problems. Most obvious, the introduction of glamour as a thing that exists in this history. I'm really perplexed as to why the author provides absolutely no context or explanation for glamour--what it is, what it does, if it has always been a part of human history or was a recent discovery of sorts, etc. It appears almost exclusively ornamental, though in later books it is suggested there can be *some* utility to it. But the author uses all these terms--"folds", "ether", "threads", "tie off", and "glamour" itself amongst possible others--with no context or definition of what they mean. Why is glamour considered a woman's art? Why does working with glamour make people tired/sick/die if used in excess? On that point, why bother doing anything with glamour if it can make you sick or whatnot? Why not just paint? All throughout the book I was reading about people peering into the ether or grasping a thread of glamour, but I have no frame of reference for these actions. To be quite honest, I kind of skipped through some of the parts of the book that discussed glamour, glamour terms, or the mechanics of glamour because I could not understand it. The only thing I can picture about glamour is that it makes something look like something else (because I've seen The Craft), or might appear like moving wallpaper or something. As I write this review, I'm almost done with the third book in the series and I still kind of skip the glamour parts because I can't make sense of it.

The author does seem to have recognized that she made a major misstep in not providing any context or information about glamour, instead expecting that her readers would of course know and could imagine this entirely fictitious world and its magical properties. In the second and third books, at least, there's a bit of a glossary of terms to help one understand all these new words and concepts associated with glamour. I'm truly not sure how what seems to me to be a most basic of tenet of writing--making sure your audience can understand you--was missed by the author, her editor(s), and any friends and family who had the opportunity to read the book prior to its publication. If all these people understood the book without aid of the author's detailed explanation and no other aids or references, I'm not sure if maybe they perhaps live in this alternate universe so this is all old hat to them. In general I am no fan of exposition, but this introduction to the world in which the Ellsworth family exist is one of the rare cases where it is not only necessary, but would be welcome.

As I said earlier, this book happens feels like an almost plot point for point rewrite of Jane Austen, so I wonder if it started as fanfiction. Regardless, as I have also stated multiple times, I did find the book enjoyable and am interested enough in continuing to be part of this world that I will continue through the rest of the series. However, be prepared to experience some frustration at the familiarity of the story and the author's implication that her readers should already be well-versed in this make-believe magic that she introduces as though it is commonplace. ( )
  AeshaMali | Sep 17, 2016 |
Liked the writing style and the PNR aspects. The way the author blended them together was unlike anything I've read in terms of style. That being said, the characters gave me problems. Jane seemed a but dense when it came to her sister (from her feelings towards her to her relationship). Vincent was a nonentity almost. A lot more time was spent portraying Dunkirk, who was not the hero. Vincent was given a couple of scenes where some of the interaction is glossed over, and we are expected to think that Jane knows more of him than we do. I was very interested in reading the other books of the series as they continue following Jane and Vincent, but after the rushed ending I am feeling less interested. Might try #2 and just see how it goes, but not sure what it could be about at this point... ( )
  GoldenDarter | Sep 15, 2016 |
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 |
Showing 1-5 of 95 (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)
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Series (with order)
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
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.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Publisher series
Original language

References to this work on external resources.

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]
Haiku summary

No descriptions found.

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)

» see all 2 descriptions

LibraryThing Member Giveaway

Mary Robinette Kowal's book Shades of Milk and Honey was available from LibraryThing Member Giveaway.

LibraryThing Author

Mary Robinette Kowal is a LibraryThing Author, an author who lists their personal library on LibraryThing.

profile page | author page

Author Chat

Mary Robinette Kowal chatted with LibraryThing members from Sep 13, 2010 to Sep 26, 2010. Read the chat.

Quick Links

Swap Ebooks Audio
203 wanted

Popular covers


Average: (3.51)
0.5 1
1 3
2 30
2.5 7
3 107
3.5 55
4 101
4.5 17
5 35


You are using the new servers! | About | Privacy/Terms | Help/FAQs | Blog | Store | APIs | TinyCat | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | Common Knowledge | 115,316,894 books! | Top bar: Always visible