Glamour in Glass

Glamour in GlassTitle: Glamour in Glass
Author: Mary Robinette Kowal
Series: Glamourist Histories #2
Publisher: Tor Books
Date: April 10, 2012
Pages: 336
Format: ARC
Source: For Review
4.5 Stars

SYNOPSIS

Mary Robinette Kowal stunned readers with her charming first novel Shades of Milk and Honey , a loving tribute to the works of Jane Austen in a world where magic is an everyday occurrence. This magic comes in the form of glamour, which allows talented users to form practically any illusion they can imagine. Shades debuted to great acclaim and left readers eagerly awaiting its sequel. Glamour in Glass continues following the lives of beloved main characters Jane and Vincent, with a much deeper vein of drama and intrigue.In the tumultuous months after Napoleon abdicates his throne, Jane and Vincent go to Belgium for their honeymoon. While there, the deposed emperor escapes his exile in Elba, throwing the continent into turmoil. With no easy way back to England, Jane and Vincent’s concerns turn from enjoying their honeymoon...to escaping it. Left with no outward salvation, Jane must persevere over her trying personal circumstances and use her glamour to rescue her husband from prison...and hopefully prevent her newly built marriage from getting stranded on the shoals of another country's war.


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Mary Robinette Kowal really impressed me with Shades of Milk and Honey – a very Pride & Prejudice-esque novel with a magical twist. Needless to say, I was very excited to continue the series with Glamour in Glass. While it was quite different, I’m happy to say I wasn’t disappointed!

Whereas Shades of Milk and Honey had a plot focused around societal pressures, family issues, and finding a husband, Glamour in Glass has themes of gender equality and political intrigue. While I wasn’t expecting such a dramatic shift, I have to say I really enjoyed it! It actually reminded me a bit of Sharon Cameron’s The Dark Unwinding (which I really enjoyed).

Now that Jane and Vincent are married, the two are under a bit of pressure to have a child. I’m sure other newly weds can relate to this! I’ve started telling people I’m not having children until I’m 50 so that they stop. asking. me. Sheesh! Jane’s sentiments toward children strike me as very modern, and therefore much more relatable than I would have expected. A pregnancy would mean she can’t practice glamour. She loves glamour so much that the idea of being cut off from it (and her work with Vincent) terrifies her. As much as I enjoyed this element of the story though, Jane’s inner dialogue did get a bit frustrating at times as she is still fairly insecure of Vincent’s feelings…even though they’re married.

There is a ton of political intrigue in this story since it takes place in Belgium just after Napoleon has abdicated his thrown. The setting actually helps Jane grow a lot as a character as she finds she prefers the way women are treated in Belgium a bit more than she does in Britain (after the culture shock wears off of course). There is a great deal of talk among the characters of whether or not Napoleon might return to power, and quite a few shocking events that stem from the Bonapartist movement in Belgium.

Glamour in Glass is a stunning sequel to Shades of Milk and Honey. It takes the characters from the first book and really expands upon them and lets them grow in new situations. While the characters have a special place in my heart, the plot was absolutely fantastic and well beyond what I was expecting. Mary Robinette Kowal has clearly grown a lot as an author after her first book and I am so excited to see how her writing, as well as Jane and Vincent, grow as the story continues.

Shades of Milk and Honey

Shades of Milk and HoneyTitle: Shades of Milk and Honey
Author: Mary Robinette Kowal
Series: Glamourist Histories #1
Publisher: Tor Books
Date: July 26, 2010
Pages: 320
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased
4 Stars

SYNOPSIS

Shades of Milk and Honey is an intimate portrait of Jane Ellsworth, a woman ahead of her time in a world where the manipulation of glamour is considered an essential skill for a lady of quality. But despite the prevalence of magic in everyday life, other aspects of Dorchester’s society are not that different: Jane and her sister Melody’s lives still revolve around vying for the attentions of eligible men.

Jane resists this fate, and rightly so: while her skill with glamour is remarkable, it is her sister who is fair of face, and therefore wins the lion’s share of the attention. At the ripe old age of twenty-eight, Jane has resigned herself to being invisible forever. But when her family’s honor is threatened, she finds that she must push her skills to the limit in order to set things right--and, in the process, accidentally wanders into a love story of her own.

This debut novel from an award-winning talent scratches a literary itch you never knew you had. Like wandering onto a secret picnic attended byPride and Prejudice and Jonathan Strange & Mr NorrellShades of Milk and Honey is precisely the sort of tale we would expect from Jane Austen…if only she had been a fantasy writer.


***

 

I read Shades of Milk and Honey in about 4 hours. No joke. I sat down after work and just gobbled it up. This is a book I’ve been dying to read for ages, so I finally got around to buying a copy a few weeks ago and I’m very glad I did!

Shades of Milk and Honey has a very Jane Austen-feel to it (which is completely unsurprising given all of the Jane Austen references in the praises, right smack on the cover). In any case, if you like those old fashioned romances this is definitely a great book to check out – especially if you love a bit of magic your stories!

The magic (or glamour) that is used in this book was just awesome. It almost whisked me back away to Libba Bray’s Gemma Doyle trilogy, which was just filled with magic and fantasy, and god did I love those books! Leave me a comment down below if you from time to time wish you could visit the realms too 🙂 .

In any case, the magic that Jane and Mr. Vincent created in the book sounded unbelievably cool! Imagine being able to create an entire forest in your dining room or animate your paintings. If only these things were real.

As much as I loved the magic, though, I equally disliked the relationship between Jane and her sister Melody. Having two sisters of my own, I just could not imagine treating each other like that. Having feelings for the same guy? Nope. We’re far too different, plus that is both weird and gross. Getting so jealous of each other, we resort to sabotage? Never. And I mean never. What sisters don’t hate each other a little every know and then? I completely understand why they would be fighting. But I just thought Melody was such a hateful b***h and was really put off by the whole sister dynamic.

The romance was a bit similar for me. On the one hand, I thought it was a bit ridiculous. On the other hand, I loved it! Let me explain. Since this story feels a bit Austen-inspired, there is one relationship which just seems so Mr. Darcy-esque right off the bat. I loved those scenes! Then there is another one, which you can tell could turn into something else, and that was fun too watch. Then there is Lord Douchey Pants, who I won’t outright name for those of you haven’t read the book, and everything surrounding him was just utterly ridiculous.

The climax of the novel centered around some really cool magic (which I loved) and the most absurd, overly-dramatic love-gone-wrong scene on the planet. I don’t even think the soap operas I watched in middle school were that over the top! Huge deviation from the Austen feel, and the entire time I was reading I was just sitting there thinking “seriously?” But the pages just kept turning because I was loving the writing and the story!

Shades of Milk and Honey is not without it’s flaws. Nevertheless, it had that unputdownable quality that I often find in Kiera Cass’ books (Elite drove me insane for so many different plot reasons, but I just loved reading the book). The world building is truly awesome and who doesn’t love a good Mr. Darcy type of story? If you like Jane Austen, Downton Abbey, or anything by Julianne Donaldson, Shades of Milk and Honey is a great book for you.