Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Shades Of Milk And Honey by Mary Robinette Kowal

Mr. Ellsworth has a dilemma.  He has two daughters of marriageable age.  Jane is the eldest and would normally be expected to marry first.  Melody is the younger sister and very beautiful.  At age twenty-eight, Jane is about to reach the age where she would be considered a spinster rather than an eligible wife candidate.  She may not be beautiful but is very talented.  She paints, plays the piano and is an accomplished user of glamour, or magic as it is called these days.

There are several eligible suitors in the neighborhood.  The Dunkirks live next door.  Mr. Dunkirk is a gentleman with varied business interests.  His sister, Beth, has come to stay with him.  The Viscountess FitzCameron is also in residence with her daughter and with one of Jane and Melody's old playmates, now Captain Livingston, her nephew.  Then there is Mr. Vincent, a talented glamourist who has been engaged by Mr. Dunkirk to tutor his sister in the art, but he is a mystery and of course, not gentry.

Melody sets her sights on Mr. Dunkirk but then is swayed by the younger, more exciting Captain.   Beth is also interested in the Captain but he seems set to marry his cousin, the Viscountess's daughter.  Jane, who knows she is called Plain Jane behind her back, has no real hope of attracting any man but still cannot help but harbor some faint hopes of love and marriage.

This faint hope seems unattainable when Jane discovers a secret that can wreck havoc on all the families in the neighborhood.  Should she keep the secret as she has given her word and she well knows the trouble that will ensue?  Or should she break her word for the greater good?

Fans of Victorian romances such as Pride And Prejudice or Sense Or Sensibility will be entranced by this updated version.  It follows the bones of the earlier novels while incorporating the magic of glamour for a delicious froth of a novel.  Mary Robinette Kowal made a splash with this novel.  It was a 2010 Nebula Nominee for Best Novel, a SF Chronicle's Top 10 SF/F of 2010 and a RT Book Reviews Reviewers' Choice Award for Best Fantasy Novel 2010 winner.  It is the beginning novel in a series that will draw fans back over and over again.  This book is recommended for fantasy readers.


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