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Shades of Milk and Honey (Glamourist Histories) Paperback – 6 Jun 2011

18 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Tor; Reprint edition (6 Jun. 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0765325608
  • ISBN-13: 978-0765325600
  • Product Dimensions: 13.8 x 2.2 x 20.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 834,614 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More 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 stories have appeared in Strange Horizons, Asimov's, and several Year's Best anthologies. She is the author of Shades of Milk and Honey (Tor 2010), the fantasy novel that Jane Austen might have written.

Mary, a professional puppeteer and voice actor, has performed for LazyTown (CBS), the Center for Puppetry Arts, Jim Henson Pictures and founded Other Hand Productions. Her designs have garnered two UNIMA-USA Citations of Excellence, the highest award an American puppeteer can achieve. She also records fiction for authors such as Kage Baker, Cory Doctorow and John Scalzi.

She is serving her second term as Secretary of Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. Mary lives in Portland, OR with her husband Rob and eleven manual typewriters. Visit

Product Description


"If Jane Austen had written a fantasy novel, Shades of Milk and Honey would have been the result. Written with painstaking attention to detail, Kowal's prose is serenely evocative of the time period, and the fantastic elements are a seamless fit. The characterization is extremely well done and Jane is a sympathetic, strong and intelligent heroine whose devotion to her family trumps nearly every other concern. Give this one a try!" --"RT Book Reviews," 4 1/2 stars, Top Pick! "Readers will be disappointed only when they finish this enchanting story, which is suffused with genteel charm... With the grace of "Sense and Sensibility," a touch of classic fairy tale magic, and an action-packed ending, this debut novel by an award-winning fantasy short story writer will appeal to fans of Jane Austen, Jane Yolen, Patricia Wrede, Susannah Clarke, and even Jasper Fforde." --"Library Journal" "Cliche as it might sound, if Jane Austen had sat down to pen a fantasy, this is the book she would have written. The tone, the cadence, the sweep, every bow and curtsey of the language is woven into "Shades of Milk and Honey.".. Kowal's mastery is the art of the Austenite nuance... When I reached the last page I just wanted to start it all over again. It left me craving nothing but a cup of Constant Comment...and the sequel." --"Intergalactic Medicine Show""" "A beautiful, lyrical, tightly-woven meld of Jane Austen, "Jane Eyre," and "Beauty and the Beast"--I couldn't put it down!" --Lilith Saintcrow "Simply enchanting, and another great advance in an already impressive literary career. You're going to love this." --John Scalzi "Shades of Milk and Honey is a lovely, smart, strange novel with everything on earth (and elsewhere) to recommend it. Smoothly crafted with a flair for romance and mystery, this story is one part meticulous manners and one part wild magic -- composing a whole that's utterly irresistible." --Cherie Priest"Kowal's first novel is a beautifully told story of being true: true to love, true to family, and true to art, even when it seems that one of them must give. It's a marvelous and promising debut, and hints at more wonders to come." --Cory Doctorow

Book Description

Shades of Milk and Honey is the fantasy novel you've always wished Jane Austen had written. Full of wit, historical nuance, romantic entanglements and domestic magic, this is pure entertainment. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Customer Reviews

3.5 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Anna Lowenstein on 4 Feb. 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is one of the growing family of books inspired by Jane Austen. The plot is an amalgam of “Pride and Prejudice” and “Emma”, with a little “Persuasion” thrown in. However the story becomes far more elaborate as it progresses, so that I was kept guessing until the end whether the heroine was going to end up with Mr Darcy or Mr Knightley (since it was clear from the outset that Captain Wentworth wasn’t in the running).

What saves this book from being just another Jane Austen imitation is the addition of “glamour”. This is an art form based, apparently, on plucking folds out of the ether and then working them to create sensory illusions. In the course of the book we gradually discover more about glamour, which is used not only to produce visual works of art, but also sounds and scents. It is a suitable occupation for young ladies along with drawing and music, and can be used to enhance both. It is clear that the author has developed the concept of glamour in great detail, even giving it a history, as there is a reference to a system of notation which already existed in Ptolemy’s day. However, there is no single explanation of glamour in the course of the novel, but rather hints and suggestions are dropped throughout the book, in the same way that in the fictional world it describes, glamour may add an additional touch to a painting or a piece of music.

The language and social mores are well done on the whole, although I noticed the occasional turn of phrase which, while it did not contain any words which might not have been used by the original Miss Austen, would probably not have appeared in that particular combination. I also doubt whether a lady of that era would have been called Melody or Joy.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on 12 Mar. 2012
Format: Paperback
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.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By kara-karina (Nocturnal Book Reviews) on 16 Jan. 2015
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Shades of Milk and Honey is absolutely lovely. I picked this book up sometime in 2013, and only started reading it this December, which I declared ARC-free.

This is a tranquil, delicate and very beautiful read which I named one of my best reads of 2014. It's quietly charming, unhurried, and if you are a fan of Jane Austin, you are guaranteed to love it.

Jane is a 28-year-old spinster, plain, good-natured, ever so patient, and her only distinction is that she is extremely gifted self-taught glamourist with an exceptional taste. On the other hand, her younger sister, Melody, is a beautiful, vivacious, self-centered empty head, who keeps casting her designs on everyone who shows her even the slightest attention.

Enter Mr. Dunkirk (Mr.Darcy slash Mr. Bingley). He has a younger sister of shy, nervous disposition and with a scandalous past, whom Jane takes under her wing. Mr. Dunkirk secretly admires Jane who likes him in return but thinks that Melody is the subject of his attention because her sister fancies him very much.

If that is not confusing yet, enter Mr. Vincent (definitely Mr. Darcy material!). An exceptional glamourist, famous and well-sought, he is hired by a local socialite for a score of festivities.

Jane is absolutely enamoured with his art, but each encounter with sourly artist only rises their hackles, and both totally misunderstand each other until a whirlwind of dramatic events which leads to happily ever after for now.

This is an exquisite, gorgeous historical fantasy, and I can't wait to read anything else Miss Kowal has to offer! Highly recommended, utterly charming.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on 10 Dec. 2012
Format: Paperback
This book wants to be, as its author freely admits, a cross between Jane Austen and "Jonathan Strange and Mr.Norrel", and it doesn't fail in that, although it is more the first than the latter. The world-building is excellent; the author succeeds is sucking you into a convincing (and charming) world of Regency England plus a little bit of magic. The characters are wonderfull; they are sympathetic, well-rounded and realistic. The author tried to give their speech a period feel that sometimes came off as an affectation, but it wasn't too intrusive and I got used to it. The romance was sweet and the author's ruminations on art interesting.

The only major problem with this book is the plot; frankly it is too thin to support a full-length novel and would be better suited to a short story. For about half of the book nothing much happens, we are introduced to the characters and the world and given a few subtle hints about the plot. Even when the plot moves into full swing, there is not much of it and it is fairly commonplace and completely predictable.

I did like reading this book, but I won't be rushing to buy the sequel.
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