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Without a Summer

(Glamourist Histories #3)

3.93  ·  Rating details ·  3,462 ratings  ·  482 reviews
Up-and-coming fantasist Mary Robinette Kowal enchanted fans with award-winning short stories and beloved novels featuring Regency pair Jane Ellsworth and Vincent. In Without a Summer the master glamourists return home, but in a world where magic is real, nothing—even the domestic sphere—is quite what it seems.

Jane and Vincent go to Long Parkmeade to spend time with Jane’s
Hardcover, 361 pages
Published April 2nd 2013 by Tor Books
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Average rating 3.93  · 
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 ·  3,462 ratings  ·  482 reviews

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Oct 10, 2016 rated it really liked it
This is another easy read for anyone who likes a smattering of fantasy to grace their Regency Romance, tinged with a bit of the Luddite rebellion, other peaceful demonstrations painted as rebellion and used politically, culminating in a courtroom drama.

It's fluff.

Why do I say that? Because most of the novel is focused on the snap judgements of Jane and the misunderstanding and prejudices surrounding the Irish, or from outside her personal acquaintances, the similar theme of the general downtrod
Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽
Review originally posted on

Without a Summer is the third book in Mary Robinette Kowal’s Glamourist Histories fantasy series set in an alternative Regency-era England where magic, or “glamour,” is used as an art form to create intricate visual illusions. *minor spoilers for first book*

Jane and Vincent, a married couple who are both accomplished glamour artists, are visiting with Jane’s parents and younger sister Melody in the country. It’s an unseasonably cold spring,
Jul 16, 2014 rated it liked it
Consensus seems to be that this series improves with each book, but I'm not entirely sure that I agree. This series changes with each book, but I can see how someone might prefer book 1 to book 3. It's all a matter of priorities. Book 1, Shades of Milk and Honey, is much smaller in scope. It's an intimate portrait of a couple and of the few closest friends, family members, and neighbors who are around while they are falling in love. The comparisons to Jane Austen abound, and are at least somewha ...more
Apr 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This was my favourite so far in the Glamourist Histories, which just get better and better. True, I had to put it down for a day after it decided late in the game to bring in my least favourite plot ever (falsely-accused-must-prove-innocence) but after I picked it up again I enjoyed the trip into Regency legal customs. Kowal has done her research and it shows, she has Jane & Vincent settling in a London that felt vibrant and real, using real world issues such as anti-Irish prejudice, the struggl ...more
Apr 01, 2015 rated it really liked it
When I’m just reading this and not thinking too much about it, I love it. If I try and pick nits, I’m less enthused — like sometimes I just think about Jane’s behaviour for a moment too long, and want to slap her down. She jumps to conclusions, acts like Melody is brainless, dismisses her… If I think about it too much, my frustrations with Jane take the shine off things a little.

So: why I like it — it’s so easy to read. I love the relationship between Vincent and Jane, at least as far as he’s co
Sep 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
Review from Tenacious Reader:

In the third book of the Glamourist Histories, Kowal keeps the story and plot fresh and continues to give us more of that fantastical regency romance that works incredibly well. What can I say? Turns out that even with all the grimdark books that I love, I have a very soft spot for a well written regency period story with a splash of magic (or glamour) to spice it up just a tad.

After a visit with her family, Jane and Vincent h
Mar 19, 2017 rated it liked it
This is a very enjoyable fantasy of manners series which is light, fun and filled with quaint witticisms. I definitely enjoy Mary Robinette Kowal's style of writing and she actually narrates the audiobooks too which is good (although I think a British narrator might have worked better as the setting is in England).

This story followed Jane and her husband Vincent who are two prolific Glamourists working together in a time where women were generally looked down upon. Jane and Vincent are happily
Mar 14, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nook, fantasy
Mary Robinette Kowal's alternate-world Regency fantasies just get better and better. The magic is subtle and finely drawn, the characters are fascinating, and she doesn't flinch from conflict and honest resolution. When I reached the final scenes, I had to put my Nook down a few times and catch my breath, I was *that* worried about the people in the story. They've won my heart with their courage, and I can't wait to read more. ...more
May 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Book Couples Video

Without a Summer is the best book in this series till now!

As glamourists, Jane & Vincent receive a job in London and because Jane's little sister , Melody feels melancholic because of the cold weather but also because of lack of young gentlemen, Jane decide to take Melody with them.

In the capital of England Melody starts to like Mr.Brian, the son of the employer of the Vincents. But Jane finds the young man not suited for her sister so she tries to distance Melody from Mr. Bria
Feb 22, 2014 rated it really liked it
4.5 stars

Their honeymoon now over, Jane and Vincent are working together discovering minor issues as do all couples, and trying to work around them, but it's hard when the needs of family conflict - or when unwanted people keep making an appearance. Jane is trying to balance the needs of Vincent (both maritally and professionally) and Melody, without neglecting herself too much, and yet her concern for the coldmongers is growing as the unseasonably cool weather provokes increasingly dissident be
Feb 01, 2013 rated it really liked it
I must admit to my own prejudices and note that I originally was going to give it three stars (which, as I have explained in the past, is still a good mark from me and a recommendation to read); however, as I peeled those away (those being the standard male adolescent prejudices against romance, lightness and talking rather than doing), I discovered that there is a steely elegance to this third entry in Kowal's Glamourists series. Her prose has improved -- there is a confidence to it that I foun ...more
Apr 13, 2013 rated it really liked it
I've been enjoying Robinette Kowal's "Glamour" books set in an alternate Regency Universe. As much as I love Naomi Novik's dragon books set during the Napoleonic Wars, I think R. Kowal's worldbuilding holds up better under scrutiny.

Sir David Vincent and Jane, Lady Vincent, are back in England after the Battle of Waterloo. They've taken on a valuable commission, but one that brings them back into contact with Vincent's estranged family and brings Jane's family into involvement as well.

Regency fan
May 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This series gets better with each book. Such a fascinating blend of Regency and fantasy, with great character development and storyline.
Jan 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
“Vincent’s jaw tightened. ‘Jane. Stay in the carriage.’ She did not.”

This series keeps getting better. Kowal confidently draws the reader into a historical London and the summer that wasn’t. (1816) Readers continue to follow Jane Vincent, now Lady Jane, into the deprivation and politics of that time. And sometimes the biggest threat to the happiness of herself and those she loves are her own assumptions.

“She comes from good English stock on her father’s side. It is not as though she were Irish.”
Jul 26, 2013 rated it it was amazing

This is another thrilling adventure following Glamour in Glass. The author balances the magic, the history and the relationships nicely. I liked learning more about glamour, what it can do, who uses it and why. I knew about the volcano in Indonesia that exploded and caused a giant ash cloud that created freezing temperatures across the northern hemisphere, but the popular explanation as it appears in the novel is very creative. It makes sense from a historical perspective. Amateur historians wil
Sep 11, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own, 2014
The Glamourist Histories get better and better with each book, as Mary Robinette Kowal allows her characters to grow and plays with history in new and inventive ways. In Without a Summer, Jane and Vincent take a job in London for a simple glamural but get more than they bargained for as they juggle Melody's marriage prospects and the country's political unrest.

Without a Summer is the most daring, complex book in the series yet, and the last book had fucking Napoleon (offscreen, but still). We ge
Apr 03, 2013 rated it really liked it
Without a Summer is an extremely well constructed book. There were hints placed all around the book about things to come and the mystery and romantic plotlines wove lovely patterns around each other in ways that managed in parts to surprise and always made for an enjoyable read that was nigh impossible to put down once started.

To readers of the series, here is where Jane's sister Melody finally comes into her own as a character and starts blossoming as a woman and, as you can guess, finds a man
Feb 01, 2013 rated it really liked it

This was my favorite book of the series so far, for many reasons. Jane and Vincent continue to be interesting characters, and I like the acknowledgement that neither romance nor conflict end with marriage. Most regency era novels (including Austen) are all about the courtship phase of a relationship, and see marriage as an endpoint to the story. I also enjoyed Kowal's use of elements from Emma. The borrowed themes and plot lines were well integrated and felt natural for the characters.

Kaethe Douglas
Read out of order, therefor reviewed out of order, sorry.

This time Kowal sends the Prince Regent's glamourists to London in order to give Jane's sister a proper season. Unfortunately, it's the Year of No Summer, 1816. There is labor unrest and dirty tricks and this whole business of finding Melody a suitable husband.

The interweaving of the real food shortage and labor unrest with the fictional and fantastic Worshipful Company of Coldmongers is very well done. Certainly there were a great number
Apr 08, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-2013
I didn't enjoy this quite as much as the earlier two books in the trilogy, but I can't actually put a finger on why. There's nothing innately bad about the book at all - Jane and Vincent continue to be interesting characters, and I still love the world. Maybe it's more that the book focuses on the politics of the world rather than the domestic side of things?

I love, love, love Melody in this. She was always one of the most vivid secondary characters for me - I love her voice (her little La! is g
May 08, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: regency, 2016, fantasy
I love this series so much. It is gentle and refined and delicate and still deals with issues of racism and xenophobia and bigotry and classism and industrial change. I love that the heroine is flawed. I love the diversity of the cast of characters - this is not an all white Regency. And while it would be great if more of the main characters were POC, at least we have here a more historically accurate London. I like the intersection of race and dangerous occupations, since that is historically a ...more
h o l l i s
Surprised to say I liked this one a lot more than the previous books in the series.

Jane frustrated me as events and misunderstandings came to a head but it was well explained and rationalized in the narrative. There's also a lot less frustration in the interactions between she and Vincent and I quite love them as a couple. In general though I just found this story held up better than the ones before.

I move on to book four with a little more hope for my overall enjoyment.
Apr 16, 2015 rated it liked it
While I liked the book well enough to speed through it in one day, I don't think it stood up well in comparison with the earlier two books in the series. I will have to mull it over more before I write a full review. ...more
Feb 26, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arc, march, 2013
Best of the series so far.
The Library Ladies
Jan 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
(Originally reviewed at

I continue on with my reviews of this series! As I commented on in the first reviews, the books’ ties to the Jane Austen novels that the author attempts to mimic has been the difference maker between my enjoyment levels of the first two in the series. The first tried to tie it too closely to “Pride and Prejudice” and “Sense and Sensibility,” leaving original characterization and plot to suffer. While the second seemed to step away completely from thi
Apr 29, 2015 rated it liked it
I'm conflicted about Without a Summer. I think the pacing is better here than in the previous two novels because for the first time, the conclusion didn't feel like a surprise and I didn't even notice that Mary Robinette Kowal borrowed the plot of Jane Austen's Emma. I love the honesty of Jane and Vincent's interactions. Though period-appropriate, I'm often uncomfortable with Jane's racism, ethnocentrism, and conservative opinions. I appreciate that Kowal gives her characters realistic flaws and ...more
Olga Godim
Apr 28, 2013 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Fans of fantasy and romance
Shelves: fantasy-scifi
I enjoyed this quiet book. Like the previous novels of the series, it’s imbued with Jane Austen’s influence. Add to that love and hatred, family drama and laborers’ uprising, the magic of glamour and bad weather, and, of course, the Irish, and you get a perfect recipe for a rather piquant tale of alternate Regency England.
The protagonist Jane is happily married to her beloved Vincent, a famous glamourist and a friend of the Regent. The war is over. Napoleon is defeated. Both Jane and Vincent ar
Nov 13, 2014 rated it liked it
Rather uneven entry So, Kowal's alternative history/fantasy continues on, with the adventures of Jane and Vincent coming together in service of the British Crown once again, this time with more romantic entanglements and family drama (a bit for both the main protagonists and Jane's younger sister Melody).
This time the danger is on their own British soil with unhappiness abounding. The weather is cold, even into May and Jane wonders if this year will go without a summer (get it? It's nice to see
Heather Jones
Dec 14, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy
Back when I reviewed the first two books in this series, I observed "It seems implausible that no one is exploiting [glamour] on a grunt-level commercial scale. In such a context the physical cost of using the ability suggests some rather horrifying potential consequences of that exploitation." As was pointed out in comments to that post, the third book addresses exactly this topic, with the protagonists Jane and Vincent getting dragged into the resulting social and political upheaval. The "year ...more
Audra (Unabridged Chick)
This is the third book in Kowal's Glamourist series, a series of historical fantasies set during the English Regency, following glamourists Jane and her husband Vincent. (Here are my reviews for the first book and the second.)

After their tumultuous run in with Napoleon's forces while in Belgium, Jane and Vincent are back in the UK with Jane's family. Commissioned by an Irish Catholic family to do some glamour, Jane and Vincent find themselves becoming embroiled in a political plot against the co
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Team Hooman: Glamourist #3 - Without a Summer 1 2 Jul 11, 2018 12:09AM  
Sinopsis en Español // Synopsis in Spanish 1 3 Feb 15, 2015 10:05AM  

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Mary Robinette Kowal is the author of the Lady Astronaut series and historical fantasy novels: The Glamourist Histories series and Ghost Talkers . She’s the President of SFWA, a member of the award-winning podcast Writing Excuses, and has received the Astounding Award for Best New Writer, four Hugo awards, the RT Reviews award for Best Fantasy Novel, the Nebula, and Locus awards. Stories have a ...more

Other books in the series

Glamourist Histories (5 books)
  • Shades of Milk and Honey (Glamourist Histories, #1)
  • Glamour in Glass (Glamourist Histories, #2)
  • Valour and Vanity (Glamourist Histories, #4)
  • Of Noble Family (Glamourist Histories, #5)

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