Shades of Milk and Honey

Shades of Milk and Honey

Book - 2010
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The fantasy novel you've always wished Jane Austen had written

Shades of Milk and Honey is exactly what we could expect from Jane Austen if she had been a fantasy writer: Pride and Prejudice meets Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell . It is an intimate portrait of a woman, Jane, and her quest for love in a world where the manipulation of glamour is considered an essential skill for a lady of quality.

Jane and her sister Melody vie for the attentions of eligible men, and while Jane's skill with glamour is remarkable, it is her sister who is fair of face. When Jane realizes that one of Melody's suitors is set on taking advantage of her sister for the sake of her dowry, she pushes her skills to the limit of what her body can withstand in order to set things right--and, in the process, accidentally wanders into a love story of her own.
Publisher: New York : Tor, 2010.
Edition: First edition
ISBN: 9780765325563
Branch Call Number: FANTASY KOWAL M
Characteristics: 304 pages ; 22 cm.


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My Current Author Crush

When I find a new author I enjoy, it feels something like starting a new romance. I will often become infatuated and go on a jag, reading their books almost exclusively until: a) I have read everything they’ve ever written or b) I get excited about something/someone new. I am currently on a Mary Robinette Kowal jag. My son had  “Ghost Talkers” on his holiday wishlist, and since he and I… (more)

From Library Staff

Shades of Milk and Honey is the perfect magical companion to Pride and Prejudice. In Kowal’s world, magic is called glamour, and it is one of the most sought after abilities for any proper lady. Here enters Jane. She is a young girl with a natural aptitude for glamour but not nearly as beautif... Read More »

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Chapel_Hill_MarthaW Aug 10, 2017

I was slightly hesitant about this one, since I knew prior to reading that it was Austen-inspired, and I've grown fairly weary of Austen retellings. But! This is not a retelling -- it's more of an homage than anything else, and Kowal mashes up some of the plotlines from several of Austen's novels to create her story. There are so many winking, familiar elements -- the mother in this book, for example, is clearly inspired by Mrs. Bennett from Pride & Prejudice, while the relationship between the main character and her sister feels ripped from Sense & Sensibility -- but they all work well together, and the way the magic is worked into this universe feels natural and interesting. I'm glad there are sequels, because I liked this a fair bit. (My one nitpick: is this actually supposed to be Regency England, or just a Regency England ripoff unnamed world? Because at one point an aristocrat with the title of count is mentioned, which is not an English title! They have viscounts, not counts. #nerd)

Apr 12, 2017

A luscious read. I enjoyed it from the first moment I set eyes on the typeset, and the old-fashioned style where each new chapter begins with slightly wider page margins. I enjoyed the use of ancient spelling of words like "teaze" and "shewed." The Jane Austen style was beautifully conveyed, in a very engaging story. The creativity of the idea of "glamour" and its uses was genius.

Aug 09, 2016

Set in Regency England, glamour is considered a useful skill for women of quality. It is magic that is strictly used to to decorate a home or to entertain guests. Jane Ellsworth, a spinster at 28, has a remarkable ability with glamour but little else to recommend herself in the marriage market. When her family's honor comes into question, she has to use her ability to protect them and somehow stumbles into her own love story in the process. A slightly different but very appealing pick for Jane Austen fans.

CMLReads_Kristin Apr 26, 2016

A lovely, magical regency romance. Fans of Jane Austen, even if they aren't too fond of fantasy, will still enjoy the capable heroine, her flighty relations, and the array of eligible suitors. The beginning of a series!

Aug 15, 2015

This book was such a joy to read. Fans of Jane Austen and of Charlotte Brontë will enjoy this book as it is a love letter to those early women novelists. Like Northanger Abbey, this book exists in conversation with a fictional genre. Austen's first novel poked fun at gothic fiction while still showing it respect--as you can only successfully lampoon something you love. Kowal's novel takes on a style more similar to Austen than Radcliffe, while embracing the supernatural. It is a fun story with compelling characters that can go a teensy bit of the way toward filling the void after you've finished all of Jane Austen's novels and long for more.

Jul 17, 2015

This book is a delightful and beautiful tale. I found the book hard to put down, and enjoyed the whimsical feeling it gave me. The book had a Jane Austen vibe to it, but also had folds of magic. Overall the book was well written( except for its rushed ending). I look forward to reading the other books in the series.

Aug 17, 2014

When the summary mentions Pride and Prejudice it should also mention all the other Jane Austen books because every one of them is represented in the story some way.
The main character is just a little annoying. I knew exactly what was going to happen to her and she was just a little too stupid in the love department.
I liked the glamour art/fantasy portion of the book but ended up finding the multiple Austen rip-offs really distracting. The drama at the end was overdone and the matchmaking father a bit strange.

Nov 22, 2013

A beautiful balance of classic literature and magic. I love the world that Kowal built, and the writing, but I was less enchanted by the characters. I bored of the the repetition of their doubts and complaints, and wasn't won over by the love interest.

Barbara5060 May 28, 2013

Interesting use of the magic of glamour to both complicate the plot and to make the setting of the novel unique and interesting. I was disappointed in the ending. It seemed abrupt and lacked the finesse of the rest of the book. It did seem a little slow, but Jane Austen-esque writing is like that. I enjoyed the characters and the pastoral setting. An enjoyable, light romance, perfect for summer leisure time reading.

Hathor May 11, 2013

In this Regency era romance novel, a young woman's chance of making a good marriage increases with her being good at the arts: piano, painting and glamour. In this novel, Jane Ellsworth, is considered plain, but has the soul of an artist. Her sister, Melody, is beautiful, but has very little artistic merit. When Mr. Vincent, a talented glamour artist, comes to work on a glamural, the jealousy between the two sisters flare.
With just the right amount of intrigue set in the Regency era and an action-packed ending, this book will satisy Jane Austen lovers to the very end!

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Apr 12, 2017

I dream of a day when it is possible to move images from one location to the next without the human effort of clasping tight to keep the folds from unraveling. Were that possible, then a gallery could be created so that arts such as these were not only the provenance of the wealthy, but that all men might be lifted up by exposure to this, the most ephemeral of arts.... I imagine a day when it will be possible to create an image in one place and have it be seen instantly in another." (p. 164)

Apr 12, 2017

The room had vanished, its walls replaced entirely by arching trees; the ceiling, a sky overhead which shimmered with the light of stars and the moon. The trees rustled in response to a conjured breeze, which carried with it hints of jasmine and the pleasant, spicy scent of loam. The brook, which had so entranced her at the ball, continued its babbling, but now it was accompanied by birdsong from a nightingale that sat on one of the tree branches, singing its melody at exactly the right volume to be unobtrusive in a gathering. (p. 143)

Apr 12, 2017

The ball crept until the wee hours of the morning, when all the girls spilled out of Banbree Manor and into their waiting carriages, like flowers spilled from a bridal bouquet. Jane followed them, her dress gray as ashes, the roses on her habit a failed camouflage. (p. 50)


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