Shades of Milk and Honey, Mary Robinette Kowal
In a different kind of Regency England, Jane Ellsworth lives a modest life. Unmarried at 28, she has accepted her life of visiting neighbors and entertaining friends and family with her skill in glamour, until new neighbors move to the neighborhood. Jane’s skill sets her apart from her prettier and more charming younger sister but in ways suitors never seem to admire. Kowal traces the familiar framework of “the marriage plot” as Jane finds a true match.
Remember how when I was in Bath, I was super obsessed with Jane Austen? Well, that’s kind of my everyday life. I’ve read Pride and Prejudice a billion times, I have a LOT of opinions on the merits of the BBC P&P vs. the Keira Knightly P&P, and my friend Elissa convince me to watch North and South (available on Netflix) by telling me it was “Jane Austen in Manchester”. So a book that’s “Jane Austen….with magic” should be an air tight sell, right? Uh, kinda. The plot was standard for one set in Regency England: lots of brokered glances, confused sisters, and a marriage at the end. But Jane’s talent with “glamour” seemed like a weak stand in for painting or archery or other high class skill that appeals to both men and women. The addition of magic wasn’t as fantastical as Harry Potter and since it didn’t dramatically change the landscape the characters existed in it felt unnecessary. I read the book in about four days, it was a great commuter read and would probably be a great beach or plane companion. If you get particularly immersed, Kowal appears to have a whole series.
Lizzie rating: B