SHADES OF MILK & HONEY PRINT COVERGlamourist Histories (Volume 1)

by Mary Robinette Kowal
Unabridged Digital Audio
Read by author
Macmillan Audio| August 2010 | Audio Run Time: 7:37:0

Tor Books – Tor/Forge
e-book | August 2010
Trade Paperback | 320 pages | June 2011

Library Download. No remuneration was exchanged and all opinions presented herein are my own except as noted.




Shades of Milk and Honey is an intimate portrait of Jane Ellsworth, a woman ahead of her time in a version of Regency England where the manipulation of glamour is considered an essential skill for a lady of quality. But despite the prevalence of magic in everyday life, other aspects of Dorchester’s society are not that different: Jane and her sister Melody’s lives still revolve around vying for the attentions of eligible men.

Jane resists this fate, and rightly so: while her skill with glamour is remarkable, it is her sister who is fair of face, and therefore wins the lion’s share of the attention. At the ripe old age of twenty-eight, Jane has resigned herself to being invisible forever. But when her family’s honor is threatened, she finds that she must push her skills to the limit in order to set things right–and, in the process, accidentally wanders into a love story of her own.

This debut novel from an award-winning talent scratches a literary itch you never knew you had. Like wandering onto a secret picnic attended by Pride and Prejudice and Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell.


My Take Oblong

This was a hugely entertaining mix of Jane Austen and, let’s say, Harry Potter.  Seriously, I hugely enjoyed this story that combines elements of several novels by Austen.  the emotional and overly romantic Mary Ann from SENSE AND SENSIBILITY,  Frank Churchill’s secret affair from EMMA along with many others who scandalize, ruin maidens, love properly, annoy or delight.

The magical aspect adds a lot to the story, if only we could do the fantastical things Mary Robinette KowalIt was occasionally hard to understand the motivations or the actions, and sometimes the descriptions left me, as the reader/listener wondering a bit about what was happening, but I felt I could fill in the blanks enough to be happy about it.

I certainly did not feel it was a typical Regency romance or a Regency with add-ons; it felt more like fantasy with a literary fiction vibe.

It truly made me wonder about how we change our looks to please others with cosmetics or even surgery.  In the novel, the use of glamour has a cost in energy.  Is the equivalent cost in real life a less than authentic self or an attempt to hide our real looks?

The novel is read by the author which I was a bit skittish about. The only other time I have come across this it was a DNF.  Fortunately, with dramatic experience as a puppeteer, the author has the chops to do the job well, and she did.  In addition, there was no guessing at the meaning or intent of a sentence or word as there would have been with a third party. After all, who else would better know how these characters were to sound than the author? It was well-done in a pleasant voice aad not over-acted.

I highly recommend SHADES OF MILK AND HONEY by Mary Robinette Kowal.  I don’t know if a series was originally intended or how well the other books worked, but this book, at least, got my attention and I loved the story, the characters, and the mixing of Austen and Magic.



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