Shades of Milk and Honey by Mary Robinette Kowal
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
A quick and easy read in the style of Jane Austen, set in a world where magic exists in the shape of glamour, complicated sensory illusions, and is considered one of the arts a proper girl must know in order to fetch a good marriage. The story follows Jane Ellsworth, a gifted glamourist but unlucky in love, as she accidentally stumbles into a series of secrets that threaten the honour of her family and her friends.
The plot is not very complicated, as the pleasure resides more in the comedy of manners that ensues than in the twists. There are a couple slips here and there and the ending seems a bit rushed even for a period novel, but I very much look forward to the sequel, if only to see if the author will explore more of the implications of magic into the world, which are only hinted at in this novel.
I re-read this book in the updated UK paperback, which includes a couple extra scenes and removes some anachronisms.
After four books in the series, it’s interesting to see how many seeds of future glamour developments had already been planted here.
I remembered Melody as more obnoxious than she actually is. I don’t remember if it was in the original edition, but here Jane (spoiler for book 3) seems to already suspect that Melody is short-sighted, yet in Without a Summer it seems like she thought her sister’s lack of precision was mainly due to laziness. Mini-retcon or just a residue of sibling rivalry?