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Shades of Milk and Honey Hardcover – 3 Aug 2010


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You may have noticed that some of our books are identified as "deckle edge" in the title. Deckle edge books are bound with pages that are made to resemble handmade paper by applying a frayed texture to the edges. Deckle edge is an ornamental feature designed to set certain titles apart from books with machine-cut pages. See a larger image.
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Product details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Books; 1 edition (3 Aug. 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780765325563
  • ISBN-13: 978-0765325563
  • ASIN: 076532556X
  • Product Dimensions: 14.5 x 2.7 x 21.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,845,922 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 www.maryrobinettekowal.com.

Product Description

Review

"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 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

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 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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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 149 reviews
90 of 104 people found the following review helpful
Wonderful Premise, flawed execution 9 Aug. 2010
By George - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I would give the book 3.5 stars. But I can see where some would rate it higher.
Premise is excellent.
Easy read - but then as I note below - I found that distracting.
Characters - most needed more development
Plot - pleasant
The premise of the novel is marvelous. Take a regency England family, and make magic (called glamour) an accomplishment pursued by the ton women. I think I may have come to the book with a high expectation. I love Austen and I love Georgette Heyer. I was unconsciously setting the bar pretty high.

From my view point, a book like this should be written with more intricate prose. Kowal wrote her book, the way the vast majority of books are written today - for the 8th grade reading level. (Its not a YA novel, its just short sentences, easy repeatable words) Frankly, she probably couldn't have sold the book if she had written it with complex sentences that go on for a paragraph. But to me that is what the era calls for. That is what evokes that air of sophisticated snobbery, the elitist condescension,and the beautiful culture.

I longed for more detailed history, a more in depth characterization, a reason to like Melody - the beautiful sister, a better and more entertaining character study of the mother.

None of the characters are particularly original, but I don't demand that. I just demand that I get to know them and not end up defining them off characters in other novels to which they are similar.

Kowal's description of glamour is wonderful. Her description of its creation and the finished illusions make you long to see it in person. And she did a nice job of creating & building interest in the mysterious and scowling Mr. Vincent.

As I say, my biggest problem with the novel is one that most would count in its favor. Its easy to read. If Kowal develops this world with more stories, I will undoubtedly test the waters again, because its hard not to love such an idea as magic as an accomplishment for ladies of the ton.
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
It delivers on what it promises 31 May 2011
By B. W. Davis - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I've had my eye on this book for nearly a year - since Dragon*Con last September, where this book was promoted in the Steampunk track with swag sandalwood fans. Regency-period Britain with magical glamour wrinkle (but not the full-blown steampunk feel) seemed like just the thing. I hesitated, though, because the Kindle price of the book was $12 - much higher than the bargain priced hardbacks, and still higher than the price of the paperback coming out later this year. I've read plenty on the economics of Kindle pricing, but I still can't understand how publishers justify their price point. I suppose I fed into it, since I bought the kindle version myself...

What's Good: The book has exactly what it promises: romance, glamor, Austenian sensibilities, jealous sisters, gambling cads, and a clever female protagonist. The author handles glamour well - it's not quite a "system" like Sanderson's various magics, but clearly Kowal has thought it through, and is able to describe in a comprehensible way how the women interact with the ether, and what it takes from them to employ glamour.

What's Bad: Aside from the price tag (and I'd be surprised if the price tag wasn't a significant "bad" for many prospective readers), there's nothing new here beside the wrinkle of glamour. Down to the name and description of the protagonist, (plain) Jane, everything seems to be derivative of Austen, but without the masterful insight into human emotion. Surely the glamour is newish (and enough to make me want to read the story), but even while it's integral to the plot, glamour doesn't seem to have affected the world in any way enough to make it more than a novelty or window dressing. This will sound much more of an insult than I mean it, but the impression I had of the novel was that it was professionally copy-edited Austen fanfic.

Takeaway: I think the rating the story had last I checked on Amazon - a bit over 3 stars - is fair. I don't read enough romance or period work to know how this compares to the majority of what occupies this Regency genre; I'm probably unevenly critical because my only exposure is Austen, and then only her best novels. That would be like comparing any random sci-fi novel only to Dune - 99% percent of even very good authors would wither beneath Herbert's searing light. As long as you go into this story with the proper expectations, I think you will find it an enjoyable weekend diversion.
21 of 24 people found the following review helpful
Light, enjoyable reading 26 Jan. 2011
By J. Hilton - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
I agree whole-heartedly with Sherry Livingston's review. I enjoyed the light ease with which "Shades of Milk and Honey" flowed through my mind. I couldn't put it down. I'd hoped to read it before bed, over the course of several nights, but finished it within just 2 days. It's become rare for me to read a modern novel and simply enjoy it -- without feeling confused, bored, manipulated, disappointed, repulsed, or overwhelmed. Not every book has to be chock full of action, suspense, violence, angsty emo self-centered fixation, social commentary, incredible magic/super powers, monsters, and sex. If that's what you want, this isn't it. This is a charming, romantic story which -- like many of my favorite costume dramas -- is all about subtlety. "Shades" of romance, despair, misunderstanding, insult, honor and meaning. The main character is a very selfless, humble, kind person -- another rarity in modern storytelling. And the magic -- called "glamour" within the novel -- was a beautiful, entirely believable element of the story. I eagerly await the sequel, "Glamour in Glass."
46 of 57 people found the following review helpful
An OK Debut Novel 9 Aug. 2010
By Sherrie Benjamin - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
I picked this up on a recommendation from one of my favorite sci-fi/fantasy sites. I have to agree with the reviewer who gave it one star: the characters are bland at best, one dimensional stereotypes at worst. I was hoping for some real character growth, or to show more to the characters personalities as the story went on. There was very little, and what little there was was painfully predictable. That's the problem with this novel: its TOO predictable. You've seen all the characters and plot before, and even the addition of magic adds little to make it much different.

The novel is slowly paced, and I felt like I was waiting for something to happen. Austen could be accused of this, but her writing was witty enough to carry it. There are some interesting ideas, but nothing that really gripped me or made me excited for the climax. I didn't love the novel, but I didn't hate it either. It's a decent read, but easily forgettable. Wait for the paperback edition, or if its on sale to get it.
26 of 32 people found the following review helpful
I Love Regencies, and Fantasy, But This One Just Doesn't Cut It 1 Oct. 2010
By G - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
I really wanted to like this--the beginning was promising, and I am very forgiving when it comes to non-harlequin regency romances and light fantasy.

But unfortunately the book is dragged down by its own inertia. Characters are underdeveloped, the plot goes nowhere for the first 80% of the book, and in the last 20 pages a number of the characters undergo radical changes in temperament and personality that are never resolved or fully explained.

Unfortunately, I think the author's fame and connections in the entertainment business were what got this book published, and not any merit of the book itself. The main character makes Fanny Price look gutsy by comparison.

If you're looking for good historical "romance" stick with Jane Austen, Joan Aiken, and Georgette Heyer. Not this.
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