Thursday, October 17, 2013
Book Thoughts - Shades of Milk and Honey by Mary Robinette Kowal
Synopsis from publisher -
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 lions share of the attention. At the ripe old age of twenty-eight, Jane has resigned herself to being invisible forever. But when her familys 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.
My thoughts -
Holy cow was this book fun. I'd seen several positive reviews, so I expected to enjoy it, but I found myself tearing through this novel in 2 days. I thought the characters, the setting, and the ingenious use of magic were absolutely perfect.
I've seen SOMAH referred to as "Jane Austen with magic", and while I don't think Kowal's work has quite the intensity or cultural insight as Austen, she certainly loves Austen's work, and that is evident throughout this charming book. Her heroine - Jane - could certainly hold her own with many of Austen's spirited creations, and the nods to her predecessor's ideas and wit are sprinkled throughout.
In adding magic, however, Kowal imbues her story with a fresh and engaging new element, and that was what truly drew me in. Her world is both familiar and enchantingly unique, and I loved learning about the ways Jane and others in her society use glamour to influence their lives. Kowal elevates magic to an art, and gives her reader many interesting discussions about the nature of art in people's lives.
The ONLY negative, for me, was a scene that seemed strangely rushed and chaotic toward the end of the novel. I'm still not sure exactly what happened, which is a bit frustrating in a novel that otherwise seemed perfectly paced. While it is a small quibble, I hope to see this remedied in future novels in the series.
I highly recommend this novel - it will appeal to many across a bunch of different reading genres. Shades of Milk and Honey is a fun and fresh take on the comedy of manners, and it's magic might even captivate you!
Finished - 9/14/13
Source - South side library
MPAA rating - PG-13 for some violence and adult situations
My rating - 9/10