Sunday, July 02, 2017

Bookish Thoughts: Shades of Milk and Honey by Mary Robinette Kowal

The Ellsworths of Long Parkmead had the regard of their neighbours in every respect. ~ Opening of Shades of Milk and Honey 

Shades of Milk and Honey (Glamourist Histories #1) by Mary Robinette Kowal
Tor Books, 2010
Fantasy (Historical Romance); 306 pgs
Source: I purchased this book for my own reading pleasure.

Shades of Milk and Honey was an enjoyable light fantasy romance. Influenced by Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, Mary Robinette Kowal’s Shades of Milk and Honey bears some similarities to it, but ultimately is very different from the classic novel.

The novel is set in Dorchester, among the society, where everyone has a reputation to maintain and the roles of women and men are quite formal and proper. There is the overbearing mother and rather laid back father, both of whom want to find good husbands for their daughters. Jane is rather plain in appearance while her younger sister, Melody, is a great beauty. Unlike her sister, however, Jane has a strong talent with glamour, the magical ability to weave illusions of sorts. Jane expects she will live her life as a spinster, and most of the focus is on her sister, who is sure to catch a good husband. As it happens, the person Melody has her eyes set on, is the very person Jane favors for herself. Only, she knows the likelihood of that match is next to nil. Why would anyone choose Jane over her sister, after all?

A mysterious artist, a soldier and childhood friend, and the sister of their neighbor, all come to town for separate reasons, but will all play a part in the events that follow. Reputations are at stake, secrets are discovered and hearts are sure to be broken. Jane and her sister’s relationship is put to the test, at the risk of ruining it altogether.

Jane is clearly a reasonable woman, even if insecure about her own talents. She’s really quite gifted in magic and underestimates herself. This only endeared her to me more, however. I admit I was not as taken with her sister Melody, who came across as spoiled and selfish. To be fair, however, as the story progresses, the reader gains insight into Melody's behavior and thought process. Both she and Jane are not the same women at the end of the book that they are at the beginning.

While a quiet novel at first, this one takes an interesting  turn towards the end as the climax builds and comes to a head. It wasn't what I expected, but then it was fitting when all was said and done. It made sense.

Many thanks to the person who recommended I read Shades of Milk and Honey! Even my husband has expressed an interest in giving this one a try.

You can learn more about Mary Robinette Kowal and her books on her website. She can also be found on Twitter and Facebook.

© 2017, Wendy Runyon of Musings of a Bookish Kitty. All Rights Reserved. If you're reading this on a site other than Musings of a Bookish Kitty or Wendy's feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.


  1. This sounds so good! My library doesn't have this book but they have a two of her other books so I may go check those out first!

  2. I know a lot of people who would love this book.

  3. I don't read enough in this genre. I always enjoy it when I do, though. This book sounds interesting.

  4. Sounds like a perfect example of magical realism, only historical! It sounds good, but I almost never allow time for adult fiction *sigh*

  5. I really need to read the last book of this series! It's been too long. Maybe I'll need a reread of the previous books...

  6. This does sound good, I like it when I can't figure out how something will end.

  7. I like it when characters develop over the course of the book. That said, I just read a book last month that had a somewhat similar sounding ending (it came as a surprise, but it did make sense) that wasn't one of my faves because one of the characters had a seemingly abrupt personality change. I'm glad you liked this one and thanks for the review!
    ~Litha Nelle

  8. This one has been on my radar but I haven't really paid enough attention to it. I really think I would enjoy it so I'm really glad to see this review! Thanks for sharing!

  9. I couldn't get through P&P but I like the sound of this one. Maybe just a bit of fantasy really adds to the appeal for me. Glad you enjoyed it!

  10. This sounds like a fun read and isn't that a lovely cover? Really makes you think of Jane Austen novels.

  11. It does sound like a fun read! A little formal Regency romance and magic--that makes a great mix.


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