Shades of Milk and Honey (Glamourist Histories Series #1)

Shades of Milk and Honey (Glamourist Histories Series #1)

by Mary Robinette Kowal

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780765325600
Publisher: Tom Doherty Associates
Publication date: 06/07/2011
Series: Glamourist Histories Series , #1
Edition description: First Edition
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 239,364
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.30(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Mary Robinette Kowal was the 2008 recipient of the Campbell Award for Best New Writer and a Hugo nominee for her story "Evil Robot Monkey." Her short fiction has appeared in Strange Horizons, Asimov's, and several Year's Best anthologies. Mary is an active member of Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America and currently serves on the Board of Directors.

A professional puppeteer and voice actor, she grew up in North Carolina and spent five years touring nationally with puppet theaters. She wrote Shades of Milk and Honey while living in Iceland and performing on the hit television show Lazytown. Mary currently lives in Portland, OR with her husband Rob and nine manual typewriters.

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Shades of Milk and Honey 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 82 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The book was mildly entertaining...but it's a mistake to try to tout this novel to Jane Austen lovers b/c we're bound to react, "It's nothing like her!" The main Ellsworth family is an obvious but flat copy of the Bennetts (Pride & Prejudice) and the language never gets beyond feeling like a light imitation of Austen. The characters are flat and so are the relationships between them. The idea of glamour is interesting, though, and it did remind me of Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell. A light read, best to get it used or from a library :)
harstan More than 1 year ago
In England, plain-looking twenty-eight years old Jane Ellsworth is jealous of her beautiful sister Melody's looks. On the other hand, although she has some talent Melody is envious of Jane's magical glamour ability. Vulgar glamour artist Mr. Vincent is commissioned to create living murals in a nearby mansion. Reticent when it comes to males, Jane wants Mr. Vincent to mentor her in glamour usage; she also is attracted to him and wishes he would reciprocate. However, she has a minor hope he will tutor her and no hope he will desire her as men want Melody. On the other hand she is concerned with one of Melody's myriad of admirers who seems nasty with a personal agenda that she fears will harm her sibling. This is an interesting ironic look at Regency-like England ( for that matter it could be any society in which the aristocracy eats cake and everyone else battle over their crumbs) through a fantasy lens. The characterization is solid and the sense of being there is strong as the descriptions are vivid. The key to the story line is the ironic use of glamour by the aristocracy not to improve society but for selfish cosmetic use. Although the story line at times slows down with the excesses of the affluent, readers will enjoy what happened to Jane as she seeks her glamour groove. Harriet Klausner
Gurdonark More than 1 year ago
This novel starts with a Jane-Austen-type universe and tweaks it with bursts of magic. It also features a heroine whose sensibility is a bit closer to a 21st C. woman than to the Misses Dashwood. In the wrong hands, the conceit would be cloying, but Ms. Kowal possesses the "right hands". This was a quick, fun read--for me an entertaining read over a Thanksgiving holiay.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have never read any Austen outside of college so I can't comment on this novel as an homage but chose it because of my love of magical realism. On that front the story most certainly delivers. The glamour (magic) is effortlessly made part of a story that is essentially one about societal intrigue and romance. I enjoyed it immensely, in no small part because I pictured Vincent (one of the male leads in the story) as Richard Armitage :)
Zot79 More than 1 year ago
I don't think I'm in the target demographic for this book. But I enjoyed it, anyway. I bought it as a gift for my daughter with the degree in English Lit and read it before she could take it home. Since I don't have much background in historical romance, specifically Jane Austen, it's difficult for me to make comparisons in that realm. I just allowed the story to take me where it wanted. Where it took me was to a genteel world of preaning society, where appearances and reputations are put above personal needs and desires. It's a world where art and culture take precedence over doing real work and the magical art of glamour has been added to the mix. To my naive perceptions and untrained modern eye, the author does a fine job of bringing this world alive, weaving together the fantasy and romantic aspects of the novel in a way that kept me turning pages right through to the end. I wish a few more mysteries had been introduced sooner. It took a while for the tension to build, other than the romantic frustrations of the main character. Some reviewers argue that the impact of this magical art ought to have had a greater impact on society than what is depicted here. But since we are seeing only a small corner of the world, essentially a couple of country estates, I think it is difficult to make that judgement. And while the actual Jane Austen may have intended to make deeper commentary on her society, I don't think that's how this homage was intended at all. It's really just a light entertainment, and (to quote Mr. Vincent from the novel) "Illusions should be entrancing without someone looking behind the scenes to see how they are made."
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed reading this book. The characters were engaging and the wit and cleverness of the story makes you feel like you have stepped into an Austen book. Very well done! I look forward to hopefully another regency style book.
Madragal More than 1 year ago
Mary Robinette Kowal is a modern day Jane Austen with this book! It was absolutely exceptional from start to finish. I was so quick to lose myself within the pages and in the magical world Kowal created. While the book definitely has similarities to some of Austen's stories, the author expertly made it her own and suitable for modern audiences. The unique introduction of glamour into this Victorian-like setting made the entire book dreamy and magical. I loved the characters in the book, from Jane Ellsworth, our leading lady who despite her plain looks and having an angel face of a sister to compete with, is talented, witty, and alluring enough to catch the eye of the ever so proper gentlemen, Mr. Dunkirk, and the mysterious Mr. Vincent -- to Mrs. Ellsworth and Lady KirkCameron. Each reminded me of some of my favorite Jane Austen characters, but were still as much Kowal's characters as Jane's. I would recommend this to any Jane Austen fan, the author does the style justice, but even if you aren't familiar with Austen's writings, this is a great read full of wit, magic, betrayal, and love - and I can't wait for the next book.
Candacemom2two on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Such an absolutely beautiful story! I was afraid it may be a bit long and dry because I'll admit that as an adult I've had a hard time reading Jane Austen. It may be the books I've chosen, but it's also because I'm far too impatient. But this book sucked me in immediately. Now I've not read a Jane Austen book since high school though I have tried to, so I'm no expert, but I have an idea of her style of writing. And this book does seem like a book she could have written. The style is definitely very similar. But this book moves along at a quicker pace {though I wouldn't say it's fast paced, as it's more relaxed then most books I've been reading these days} and it has a fantasy element thrown in. As there is magic. Now this magic is unlike anything I've read about before. It's a glamour that is wove to create scenes or things that aren't there. To cloak things to make them prettier, or appear newer. A dining room can be transformed into a beautiful forest complete with a babbling brook. I thought it was genius because it fit into the story so well. Jane is a plain girl, not beautiful like her sister Melody. But she's talented in her glamour abilities and in art of all types. She's quite sensible and never goes on flights of fancy like her sister Melody. She's very likable and a character I completely connected with. Her sister Melody was beautiful and always for want of attention. She would get jealous when Jane would get attention and would do ridiculous things to get the spotlight on herself. But even while she was naive and sometimes cruel by accident you could tell that she did love her sister and was somewhat blind to her own poor behavior. Their mother, Mrs. Ellsworth was quite the drama queen, as was most of the women of that time. The slightest upset and they faint dead away. It was quite hilarious as Jane saw right through their ridiculous overreactions. Their father, Mr. Ellsworth was a kindly and gentle soul. He truly cares for his girls but really seems to be the only one who truly understands Jane. There are several men in this book that each play an important role. But it's so fun to unravel what their part is that I'm not going to spoil you with any details. I'll tell you that the romance plays out in a very Jane Austen'esque way, which is somewhat predictable once it's figured out, but it takes awhile to piece everything together. You have to figure out who Melody really fancy's and as she's so flighty it's not immediately obvious. As for Jane, well, she'll get her bit as well- but your not getting any spoilers from me!While this book isn't exactly fast paced, it isn't slow either. I found myself cruising through it with no issues whatsoever. It felt like it was a steady pace with enough twists that kept me on my toes. And the last quarter of the book- now that was fast paced as it was constant epiphany and action as everything suddenly starts to come together. I really can't recommend this book highly enough. I was totally entranced and fell in love with the magic, the characters and the time period itself. I'm very excited for the second book, Glamour in Glass which comes out April 2012. Now this is an adult book, but I would definitely say it has crossover appeal for YA.
beserene on LibraryThing 8 months ago
I thoroughly enjoyed this Regency-style fantasy novel. I sped through it in just a few hours -- the style, while reminiscent of Jane Austen, is much simpler and faster than those nineteenth century classics -- and I found myself quite caught up in the fates of the main characters. The heroine, Jane Ellsworth, is one of the best Austen-redux characters I've ever read -- she is plain, first of all, but very talented in "the womanly arts", including the use of magical glamour (there is the fantasy twist) and, of course, dashed clever and sensible. I find this combination of traits to be a perfect transformation of the typical (I use that word reluctantly) Austen heroine into a realistic twenty-first century heroine -- retaining the most admirable characteristics, but turning the physical emphasis on its head, so that we -- the generations of the perpetually self-doubting, thanks to our culture -- can relate in a genuine and complete way. Jane Ellsworth struggles with the way people treat her due to her plainness, but she is also blind to the genuine regard that some people feel because she dismisses herself in a similar way; her journey toward true self-awareness is a significant part of this novel's emotional meaning.This is, naturally, a romance. The fantasy here is light -- no wizards or dragons or big special effects scenes -- and, like the novels that inspired it, this book focuses on the minutia of everyday. At least, everyday in a world where magic is sort of like glorified needlepoint. The interplay between the characters is the real delight here and one thrills as the various figures are revealed for who they truly are and as the romantic entanglements get sorted. I won't spoil who ends up where and with whom, of course, but I will say that this novel contains one of the better proposal scenes I've read in a Regency-style novel. I found it charming.Charming, in fact, really sums up the entire package. Some readers will be frustrated by the simpler aspects and the occasionally uneven pacing -- the end comes all at a gallop, but I am reminded that it often happened that way in Austen too, and Kowal is entirely forthcoming about the fact that Austen was the key inspiration for the novel. If one goes into this expecting the level of detail and brilliance that Austen's own work consistently displayed, however, one may be disappointed. No redux can approach that level, but Kowal's originality and fresh elements -- including the limitations of the magic, which make everything more plausible -- make this a wonderful read in and of itself. Approached as a bright, entertaining homage to a favorite writer and light, clever read in its own right, this novel shines.
LeanneSF on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Fast read; Kowal was able to blend the elements of illusion/glamour within a twisted Jane Austen setting. Really liked the character of Jane and detested her sister, Melody. Enjoyed the mysterious character of Mr. Vincent and the subtle love triangle that emerged as the plot was developed. Recommended for Jane Austen fans.
emanate28 on LibraryThing 8 months ago
It was mildly entertaining, but I think it's a mistake to tout this to Jane Austen lovers--we only snap back "But it's nothing like her!"The Ellsworth family is a thin copy of the Bennetts (Pride & Prejudice), and the language never moves beyond being a pale imitation of Austen. The characters remain flat and so do their relationships...which in the end irritated me because all I could think of was who that particular character may have been based on :pThe element of 'glamour' was interesting, though, and it did remind me of "Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell".If you want to read it, best to get it used or borrow it from the library :)
nicole47 on LibraryThing 8 months ago
It was a good read, but I would say much more like an imitation of Georgette Heyer than an imitation of Austen. More gothic and adventure-prone than an Austen book. (But much much better written than many of the other books I've read proclaiming themselves to be in the style of Austen.)
bookczuk on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Ah Regency! How fun you are to visit via novels. Mary Robinette Kowal, has written a fine novel, a tribute to both the Regency period and the writers of the time, with a wonderful twist of fantasy thrown in. (I suppose that the magic, in "Jane Austen with Magic!" is less threatening to some readers than "Jane Austen with Fantasy!" Either way, it was delightful.)I came to this novel after reading the second in the series (Glamour in Glass and after meeting, and being thoroughly enchanted by the author at JordanCon IV. For those who love Austen and Heyer, the circumstances of this novel are thoroughly familiar. How nice to read of a world where the most pressing issue is how to receive a gentleman caller. The deliciousness of conversation, something that is so beautifully portrayed in Regency novels, has been captured by the author completely, which will delight fans of the esteemed writers from the past. Adding the element of the art of Glamour into that world is a nice revision, much more to my taste than adding vampires, or zombies, or detectives, though those novels have their own brand of appeal as well.I continue to be in awe of the author's exactness in her writing -- from the use of words and spellings, to assuring that details, such as fabric and phrase are correct. And I love that she used the name of a mutual friend as a character. I always suspected he had a bit of the devil in him.
mathrose on LibraryThing 8 months ago
This was a very entertaining book. The imagery was beautiful, and the plot was engaging. Ultimately, I found the characters slightly shallow, especially the lead character. Still, I would recommend it to my friends, and I found the overall value of the book to be high. Good read!
bell7 on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Jane and Melody are sisters in need of husbands in a time when propriety was everything and estates were entailed away. Lovely Melody seems to have an interest in either Mr. Dunkirk or Captain Livingston, the nephew of Lady FitzCameron. Jane hopes to attract the notice of Mr. Dunkirk herself; she may be plain, but she is quite an accomplished lady, not least in the ability to work glamour. Yes, you read right. In this Austenesque fantasy, working magic - known as "glamour" - is an art much like painting or music that could be added to a woman's (or man's) repertoire. When one thinks of it as this type of accomplishment, the idea is not so foreign really, and gives the fantasy a light touch. This is an inventive tale that cleverly nods to Jane Austen while succeeding as a story in its own right.
ronincats on LibraryThing 8 months ago
The mention of Jane Austen or Regency England together with fantasy can be either a good thing or a bad thing. I was not that enamored with Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, for example. Although there were things about it I liked, I never really identified with the characters enough to truly care about them or was caught up into the story. The Magicians and Mrs. Quent captured more of the quality of Jane Eyre, especially in one-third of the book, and I'm waiting for the sequel to pass judgment. My knowledge of the time period comes primarily from Jane herself, Bronte's Jane Eyre, and Georgette Heyer's well-researched romances of the era. I have not been one to do much reading of Austen wannabes and have sworn off most Heyer imitators as well, preferring to stick with the best. Settling into Shades of Milk and Honey felt like settling into an Austen book. It catches the ambiance, the pacing, the phrasing. The characters and story continually catch one in looking for Marianne and Elinor in the two sisters, for Mrs. Bentley in Mrs. Ellsworth, for Mr. Darcy in Vincent, and for Mr. Knightley in Mr. Dunkirk. And yet this is not just a pastiche or imitation. Just as these same characteristics are what one looks for when moving from one Austen novel to another, yet each is unique in its own way, Kowal is also able to build her own story and characters while still evoking the atmosphere. She acknowledges that she moves further away from the principles of her preceptress in the denouement of the story, but perhaps more in the direction of a Bronte rather than modern times. I enjoyed the story very much, reading it in a single afternoon. I was engaged by the characters, as well as by the addition of the fantasy element of glamour in a way that was not intrusive or jarring but that was central to the story. I recommend it for an entertaining read.
BryanThomasS on LibraryThing 8 months ago
First, a couple of disclaimers might be appropriate: I like Mary Robinette Kowal. She's a nice person, the kind who is easy to converse with and who doesn't take herself too seriously. Vice President of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, she penned one of my favorite short stories of the past few years, ¿Clockwork Chickadee,¿ a story which delights me each time I read it and is even more delightful hearing her read it out loud. She's very giving of her time to help up and coming writers from teaching them how to do readings to answering basic questions. And she spends a lot of time with puppets. Who can help but like someone who spends her time entertaining and delighting children?Second disclaimer: other than perhaps a passage or two in English literature classes, I have never read a Jane Austen book, and I think I have only seen one movie based on her work. Despite my weakness for romantic comedies and enjoyment of Nicholas Sparks, I just never felt drawn to Victorian romances. But when Kowal agreed to be with us on Science Fiction and Fantasy Writer's Chat on Twitter, I had to read ¿Shades of Milk and Honey,¿ out of an obligation to make the discussion as fruitful for everyone as possible.Am I glad I did.The prose captures the feel of Victorian writing beautifully, yet remains simple and accessible for readers who might not be familiar with it. Her characters are well drawn and interesting, and although before I read it I'd have thought I wouldn't be drawn in by the personal politics of a female spinster and her family and neighbors, I literally couldn't put this one down.A delight from start to finish, ¿Shades of Milk & Honey¿ has been aptly described as Jane Austen with magic, but the magic, the manipulation of light through a technique called glamouring, fits in naturally with the story. Although it flows through and undergirds much of the narrative, Kowal maintains a sense of mystery about it by not telling us too much about how it works and instead focusing more attention on how it is used and how it affects the characters themselves.The story of Jane Ellsworth, twenty-eight, a gifted glamourist in her own right, who dreams of love and happiness as she watches her much younger sister, Melody, and neighbors Beth Dunkirk and Livie FitzCameron wooed by men. When a few men take notice of her for various reasons, hope rises in her, but she always finds the possibilities threatened by others. Jane is too kind and mannered to wallop in her own jealousy and disappointment, however, and continues fighting her baser urges by befriending and caring for her sister Melody and neighbor Beth Dunkirk, whose brother Edmund seems Jane¿s most likely suitor.Then the mysterious galmourist, Mr. Vincent, hired by Lady FitzCameron, the Viscountess, to create a glamour for her dining hall, becomes an intriguing challenge. Jane compares her own skills at glamour to his, while examining his artistry and striving to improve her own. When his response seems to be resentment at her questions and attention, she begins to feel resentment of her own. Especially after he implies her art shows talent without any heart behind it.There were times I felt Kowal¿s foreshadowing made later developments predictable, but in the end, I discovered her plotting to be far more clever than I¿d imagined. The ending certainly was different than I had expected in several respects, and the book maintains a sense of suspense and motion which kept me riveted and wanting to know what would happen next. In spite of my lack of commonality with these characters, they captured my heart¿I cared about them and what happened to them far more than I¿d imagined I would.For a book which I¿d not have chosen on its own based on what I knew of it and my own literary preferences to have so held my interest and charmed me, I feel confident in saying it will likely surprise and charm others as well. Kowal is a smart writer, whose gift for words and understanding of pe
bexaplex on LibraryThing 8 months ago
This book is easily summarized: Pride and Prejudice, with the characters a little scrambled, and with magic. Good bedtime reading, although I was a little distracted trying to suss out who was Darcy.
alana_leigh on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Well my goodness, what a strange and charming little volume! Shades of Milk and Honey by Mary Robinette Kowal is described as "Pride and Prejudice meets Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell" -- though I would have suggested Sense and Sensibility as the Austen novel in question (if only for the sisters relationship, though other elements clearly owe their foundations to P&P) and the magical element is not nearly as strong in this as in Jonathan Strange. Still, that vague quote will at least clue in a reader to the fact that this is not your ordinary Jane Austen wannabe romantic story. Kowal evidently is quite a Janeite, having thanked the online Jane Austen community in her acknowledgements, and this book could certainly be called an Austenuation, given its tone, character similarities, and occasional spellings. The magical/fantasy element consists of the insertion of "glamour," which I'm sure I will not describe properly, as I'm not sure I even understood it properly. Glamour appears to be a magic pulled from the air that one can manipulate into visual displays -- whether this be the addition of small amounts that would add something extra to an existing item (allow trees in a painting to sway in the wind or give the illusion of light playing against books) or something a bit larger (create an entire theatrical tableau vivant around people, a "glamural" large-scale work, or curtaining off people using folds of glamour so they disappear from view). The thing is, in this world, it doesn't appear as though manipulating glamour is exactly a highly prized skill... at least for men. It seems to be something in the feminine arena, used mostly for improvements in the home, as it doesn't appear to create anything substantial, simply an enhanced visual. There are a few well-regarded artists who work with the medium but, as artists, they are still working at a kind of trade and therefore are a notch above some, but not quite on the level with the usual gentlemen and ladies who do not require a pesky occupation to keep them financially solvent.Jane Ellsworth is twenty-eight and has almost resigned herself to the life of a spinster... almost. There is still a desperate hope in her heart that despite her age and lack of beauty, she might still make a match and not end her days serving as a tutor to her beautiful younger sister's sure-to-come children. Jane has two things in her favor -- her father has set aside a bit of a dowry for each of his daughters (as he's smart enough to know that they will need this, given that his estate is entailed away) and Jane herself is a somewhat accomplished glamourist. Not that she would own the description as an official title, but even she knows that she can manipulate glamour relatively well and as this talent is appreciated in women to make a home comfortable, to entertain, etc., there is a hope that it enhances her marriageable value. Her younger sister Melody is quite a beauty and beloved by Jane (though the reader rather has to take Jane at her word on Melody's good points, as Melody comes off as a selfish, flighty, and rather vapid creature). Their parents are quite the image of Mr. and Mrs. Bennet, though at least Mr. Ellsworth has a bit more sense when it comes to providing for his daughters and keeping them out of trouble as far as that dreaded city of Bath is concerned. The neighborhood is small, but still has a number of interesting personages within. First, there is Mr. Dunkirk, of whom Jane thinks rather highly, though she also knows her sister feels the same and is immediately inclined to allow her sister the conquest. When his sister Beth comes to visit, Jane develops a fondness for the much younger girl and assists Beth in her basic study of glamour; this quietly delights Mr. Dunkirk, who has a real appreciation for Jane's talents and more than hints that such talents are what truly make a comfortable home. The local elite f
Strider66 on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Pros: quick pace, seamlessly adds magic to historically accurate pre-Victorian settingCons: entirely character driven, ending felt rushedTwo British Regency era sisters, one beautiful the other accomplished, vie for the attentions of men.Despite her mastery of the womanly arts of painting, piano and glamour, 'plain' Jane Ellsworth despairs of finding a husband and is jealous of her younger sister's good looks and easy manner.The novel's a quick read, with short chapters and lots of dialogue. Though not in first person, we see the world through Jane's eyes, as she tries to deaden her feelings for Mr. Dunkirk for fear that he's interested in her sister. Meanwhile she learns more about magic by examining the techniques of a visiting glamourist, much to his annoyance.Like the Jane Austen novels it was based on, Shades of Milk and Honey is entirely character driven and has no plot beyond whether Jane will end up married and to whom. Those who enjoy Victorian literature will appreciate the attention to detail Kowal puts into her work. The addition of magic - the only non-historical attribute - adds an interesting element to the story and is seamlessly integrated into the Victorian culture.Jane could be a Mary Sue character were it not for her rivalry with her sister. Always proper, Jane suppresses her emotions to the point that her art is lifeless, despite her talent.While the climax was dramatic, the ending felt a bit rushed. Everything was too neatly tied up in too few pages.If you enjoy Regency literature, this is a great read, whether you're into fantasy or not.
Aerrin99 on LibraryThing 8 months ago
A fast, fun read that very much reads like Jane Austen with magic. I quite liked the characters and adore the magic Kowal's created. I hope to see more in this world!
Gelasticjew on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Jane Austin-style alt-history romance in world where visual illusions are practiced instead of needlework by ladies of quality.
rbaech on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Fantastic, both in the sense of involving fantasy and in the sense of being well-written. The characters are entertaining and although the book definitely has a Regency/Austen feel, it still feels fresh. I was very happy to hear that there will be a sequel.
edischri on LibraryThing 8 months ago
I really enjoyed this Jane Austen-era romantic adventure. The language felt right for the time period, and I enjoyed such a different kind of magic employed as a "womanly art." The storyline was a little predictable, but very much in keeping with the Austen-like feel.
Katya0133 on LibraryThing 8 months ago
I really enjoyed the setting and plot of this book . . . up until the last couple of chapters. I think the ending could have worked if she'd foreshadowed it a bit better. Instead, it felt like some characters got off too easy while other characters we'd come to love were unexpectedly thrown under a bus (or carriage). Very disappointing.