Shades of Milk and Honey by Mary Robinette Kowal
Series: Glamourist Histories #1
Published by Tor
Publish Date: August 3, 2010
Find It: Goodreads / Amazon
Shades of Milk and Honey is an intimate portrait of Jane Ellsworth, a woman ahead of her time in a world 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. (Goodreads)
My Thoughts: This book was like candy. Who doesn’t love a cover like this and traveling back to Regency England where there is magic in the form of glamour?
This book was really enjoyable; part of what made it so was the fact that it was so easy to read. It took no huge effort at all, after figuring out the cast. It was like being on a vacation, and I like books like that.
Jane is very plain yet highly skilled in the art of glamour. She considers herself undesirable in terms of marriage because of her looks and her advanced age (she’s 28) and as a result, she spends herself puttering around concerning herself with everyone else’s business instead. Her sister, Melody, is very pretty and very proper. Melody is concerned with social niceties, but a lot of this is to cover for what she lacks in skill with glamour. Both Jane and Melody are jealous of each other because they wish they could each be more like the other, and this causes drama and jealousy and bad behavior.
Basically, they act like many sisters do.
In terms of plot, this book felt like I was watching Jane move about her day-to-day activities: creating glamour, visiting neighbors and friends, and even some fairly exciting things like finding out friends and family have huge socially unacceptable secrets and trying to figure out what she should do about it. There is of course a romance for Jane, but in my opinion it comes a little too late in this book to enjoy. (Although I really like the love interest! I’m excited to see the two together in the subsequent installments.)
This book made me laugh throughout. I think there is humor infused with things like the bigger-than-life personalities of some of these characters, a huge dramatic scene at the end, and the super-stereotypical Regency/Austen-esque feel of the whole thing. I love the glamour in this story, but I wish that there was a little more of it. I feel like the glamour and magic was buried sometimes underneath so many characters. I’m excited to see what this author does with the the glamour in the rest of the series, and with the romance.
I really liked Shades of Milk and Honey. I felt like more than anything it was a good introduction to the series, as it gave me a chance to get to know all of the characters + it introduced Jane’s romance. I usually don’t spend too much time previewing my upcoming reads, but a quick glance at the rest of this series makes it seem that the romance sticks and that Jane and her love interest go about creating glamour in different parts of the world. I’m excited for the magic/fantasy aspect to continue and it’s looking like the series may veer a little from the style of this first novel a little bit. I’m curious!
I recommend Shades of Milk and Honey by Mary Robinette Kowal to readers that enjoy fantasy, Jane Austen-esque style stories, and magic.