Without a Summer Audio CD – Audiobook, 18 Mar 2014
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The setting and the intricate techniques of glamour manipulation continue to intrigue, and the thoughtful portrayal of the difficulties of Jane and Vincent's affectionately nontraditional partnership is thoroughly engaging.--Publishers Weekly on Glamour in Glass. Kowal does a startlingly good job of presenting a mindset that is very alien to me.... The language was delightfully in keeping with the time period, while not being needlessly cumbersome and opaque. The story and characterization were lovely, and I enjoyed the world-building, too.Patrick Rothfuss, bestselling author of The Wise Man's Fear, on Glamour in Glass --Various --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
The magical book that might result if Jane Austen's Emma were set against the Luddite uprising. 1816, and glamourists Jane and David return to Regency England. But in a world where magic is real, nothing is quite what it seems. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.See all Product Description
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I greatly preferred Shades of Milk and Honey to Glamour in Glass, so I was glad to see Without a Summer is a bit of return to the latter. Jane and Vincent are back in England, Jane's younger sister's search for a husband becomes a plot point again, and Jane's miscarriage and the glamour in glass are largely ignored, if not forgotten. Which is not to say that Jane and Vincent do not continue to bear emotional and physical scars from the events of the last book.
Kowal wisely returns to her forte, witty dialogue and romantic intrigue. The love and tribulations of Jane and Vincent's marriage is given deep attention to great effect. Again, Jane's ambition outpaces her ability for tradecraft. Kowal, on the other hand, is much more comfortable in this milieu. She deftly pulls the strings of a admirably complex plot and, in the process, delivers some phenomenal legal theater.
Disclosure: This review is of an ARC won in a random drawing.
Mary Robinette Kowal is among my current favorite authors to read. Largely this is due to her series, the Glamourist Histories and getting to know her through her podcasting and social media (and paper letter) presence. I was lucky enough to win an advanced copy of the third book in her series, Without a Summer.
My one sentence summary:
Jane and Vincent return to London to resume their work and find Melody a husband but end up uncovering a plot to change the balance of power within the government.
Once again Kowal level of detail about regency customs and couture are a treat to read. I felt for Jane and Melody having to tromp through the mucky streets of London. The romance between Jane and Vincent deepens as they settle into a routine only to be confronted by their past or their own sort-comings. The flaws in Kowal's main characters make them more real and likable. I'm a sucker for political intrigue. As soon as there were hints of rebellion brewing, I was hooked. Vincent's family is particularly terrifying, but Jane holds her own among that den of vipers. Once again the last 100 pages were real page turners and I didn't want to put the book down once the climax started to evolve.
The pacing at the beginning was closer to the first book in the series rather than the second. By page 100, I was starting to get a little worried. Then Kowal started pulling together the strands she had sprinkled in between the drawing room drama of finding Melody a husband. My only big complaint was the lack of reference to the Jane and Vincent's tragedy at the end of the second book. They resume their behind closed doors relations without concern as to the potential consequences.
Without a Summer is an enjoyable mix of regency adventure with a dash of romance. High recommend.
Jane and Vincent have come to London to refurbish the glamurals in the house of an Anglo-Irish aristocrat, bringing Jane's still-unmarried sister Melody with them as a treat. A chance encounter with a persecuted coldmonger, Melody's attraction to the son of their employer, and the son's involvement with political unrest in the coldmongers' guild results in a legal, political, and very personal tangle that forms the crux of the story.
I enjoy Kowal's world-building and the precise and measured way she works to recreate prose appropriate to her era. The magical techniques are familiar now, so less time is spent immersed in the technical details. The interactions between the sisters are believable and their relationship continues to develop. This is, when it comes down to it, a relatively simply-structured story and follows tropes that are familiar enough to be predicted. There is no doubt that Melody will fall for the apparently-unsuitable young man, or that he will be be vindicated. There is one twist that I hadn't expected until the essential clue was dropped, but when dropped, it was unsurprising. The book touches on themes of religious and ethnic prejudice, but in a somewhat heavy-handed way, as if Kowal doesn't entirely trust her readers to be familiar with the underlying issues. I'm once more not entirely certain I will continue with this series. (I've now read all the books I have in-hand.) More plot complexity or a bit more character depth would make a difference for me. When it comes down to it, the books are a pleasant read but don't grab me and suck me in.
The third book in Kowal's Glamourist Histories follows Jane and Vincent to London with Jane's sister Melody. Jane and Vincent are working for a Baron and hoping to find Melody a husband amid, but their plans are complicated by riots and a seemingly endless winter.
I've enjoyed Kowal's other books, and I'd place this one at the same level as Glamour In Glass. Without a Summer is less overtly dramatic, but the story is more personal and feels a bit more plausible because of it. It starts a little slowly, but by chapter two I was engaged and I read the last third in basically one sitting. Kowal layers in some themes of intolerance with a deft hand.
More than that I don't want to say, except that if you enjoy fantasy you should give this series a chance. It's singularly unique in the genre and while I'm hardly in the demo for this sort of book, a well-written anything can be quite good.
I'm definitely going to buy the other two novels and spend more time with these characters, in this world.