Estara's Reviews > Shades of Milk and Honey

Shades of Milk and Honey by Mary Robinette Kowal
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's review
Jul 30, 2010

it was ok
bookshelves: read-in-2012
Recommended to Estara by: Sherwood Smith
Read from March 26 to 27, 2012 , read count: 1

** spoiler alert ** Hmm, I guess this is a 2.5 stars for me.

- the concept and description of the way magic/glamour works
- the grumpy Mr. Vincent and his inability to articulate outside of his art - even as he reminded me of characters like Little Women's Mr. Bhaer
- Mr. Lowell the caringy, slightly scheming father who understood his older daughter (who had a lot of his own traits of character) much more than his wife or younger daughter and who always meant well and was willing to trust in Jane's interpretation of things
- the believably problematic relationship of egoistic Melody and self-effacing Jane, which wasn't fun to read but worked

Didn't like:
- the need to use three old-fashioned, surprizing spellings amidst the copious amount of old-fashioned turns of phrases which would have been sufficient to shew that this was set during times inspired by Jane Austen. This actually annoyed me (and when the phrase Eschewing was used it became somewhat confusing).
- the eventual love story: I can see that Jane was overwhelmed and flattered by what she read. I can even understand that the writer slowly developed his awareness of his fascination with her and that it was based on her unique gift for the art and not for anything like her exterior - but I also couldn't see him recognising her person for herself, other than his muse.
And with all the excitement of the climax (view spoiler) I can see Jane relieved at one person believing her and mistaking that for love from her side - it had a feeling of happy-for-now but we got a lot of telling-not-showing dialogue between them afterwards and a telling-not-showing epilogue when they were old, so I guess the relationship worked (even at the end he sees her as his muse, not as herself).
- the fact that the promising acquaintance with Beth and Mr. Dunkirk went totally ape-shit. At the end they don't even keep up social pretence of asking after Jane (although she has saved the one from probable death and the other from certain ruin) and vanish from the book.

Sherwood Smith has talked about the problem of writers trying to do Jane Austen style now, whereas Austen wrote for contemporaries and with contemporary values at the time: I think this book is an example of that for me.
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Comments (showing 1-6 of 6) (6 new)

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message 1: by Li (new) - rated it 3 stars

Li Oh no - this is next up on my reading list... I've skimmed your review to avoid spoilers but I can see your dislikes outweigh your likes!

Estara *nod* - maybe you should read Sherwood Smith's short review to see how to feel happier with this book ^^. I definitely won't read more in the series. I have enjoyed short stories by her, though, and am quite willing to try something that isn't an Austen homage.

message 3: by Sho (new) - rated it 3 stars

Sho I wish I read your review before I bought and read it! Ah well.

Estara Sho wrote: "I wish I read your review before I bought and read it! Ah well."

Well, different strokes for different folks, and all - but considering we really do have amazing taste overlap quite often, well...

But it might have worked for you better anyway

message 5: by Sho (new) - rated it 3 stars

Sho Estara wrote:

Well, different strokes for different folks, and all - but considering we really do have amazing taste overlap quite of..."

Sooo True. THis could have been oh so much more don't you think? The idea was wonderful. She should have made it just fantasy/regency/out and out romance and forget "Jane Austen."

Estara Considering what Sherwood Smith, who really rereads JA a lot and has a much better grasp of what that time is like (she reads other obscure writers of the time and non-fiction about it and letter collections, etc.), said about Jane Austen it might still have been a fascinating book IF the author had GOT what Austen actual tropes are.

It seems to me that, like many, she only saw the superficial bits - and with that she might have successfully patterned her book on Georgette Heyer (who invented the regency romance of the last century) and interwoven her superior grasp on fantasy (her short stories can be really good. I don't read much short story, though).

In other words: I agree with you ^^

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