Shades of Milk and Honey by Mary Robinette Kowal
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
This was an entertaining light read. I would have read it in a day but I had a date with my husband so it took a day & a half. It is highly derivative of Austen (you'll see shades of Sense & Sensibility, Persuasion & Pride & Prejudice) but it's still a fun amble & I found I rooted for the main character, Jane, in particular. Her sister, Melody, is of course, a vapid pain & I had less sympathy & more overwhelming want of someone to tell her to be quiet or maybe slap her around for a sustained amount of time. She is redeemed much later but in the end, I still didn't like or care much about her.
Some of what takes place is predictable but if you've already accepted the Austen-esque nature of the book, you probably won't find that a deal breaker. I did want Jane to have figured out the duplicity of Capt. Livingston much more quickly. We know what she knows yet she dismisses the obvious conclusion. Actually, she doesn't dismiss it, she overlooks it entirely. She is shown to be so sharp the rest of the time that I found that a little less credible an instance. But the conclusion to that storyline was exciting enough to forgive the lead in. Most of the remaining characters fulfilled their roles well, believably & sometimes hilariously. I very much enjoyed the "glamour" idea & the descriptions of it were very well done. It took a little to sort of get into that part but once I did, it added a nice fantasy layer to the story.
I was rooting for Mr. Dunkirk from the start because I'm a sappy chica & I thought he & Jane would be a great couple. For all of the "glamour" I didn't really get into Mr. Vincent as a character. He seemed useful enough (his treatise on art & his theories on glamour were compelling), but I felt nothing for him, even when he nearly died. He never seemed as surely drawn as mostly everyone else. I accept the pairing at the ending but it quite killed any desire in me to read the next in the series. Especially since there's that little bit of epilogue in the last few chapters that gives an account of the sisters Ellsworth's future. Still, I did quite enjoy this as a weekend read.
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