Nikki 's Reviews > Shades of Milk and Honey

Shades of Milk and Honey by Mary Robinette Kowal
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it was ok
bookshelves: fantasy, historical-fiction-alternatehistory, romance
Read 3 times. Last read November 19, 2010 to November 22, 2010.

I'm vacillating between two and three stars on this one -- it's not halfway between, I'm just trying to decide whether I'll give it credit for keeping me reading, or dock it for how very high its debt to Jane Austen's work is. It's basically a cut and paste job on Austen's characters and situations, and while the writing is competent enough, it doesn't have the same subtlety and humour that Jane Austen brought to her work. It suffers very much in comparison, because of its debt.

The fantasy woven into it lies awkwardly on top of Jane Austen's work, I found, and wasn't fully explored. For example, if the working of glamour is so essential to a lady, but so few men do it, why is there no sign of any assumptions of effeminacy that would likely go with that? There's a few hints that being a "glamuralist" -- a person who goes around making complicated artwork out of glamour for people who don't have the skill themselves -- is considered lower class work, perhaps, or is stigmatised in some way, but at the same time both male and female characters admire Mr. Vincent's work, and hardly seem to treat him with inferiority.

Something about the language Kowal used doesn't ring true for me, either. When you read Jane Austen, it's plain that she's writing in her own style, in a natural sort of manner. The style of this, though, is so plainly a copy of someone else's style, and the gaps show through in the choice of language here and there.

I think I'll settle for two stars, "it was ok", since I'm not turned off Kowal's work, and enjoyed it well enough to fill a few hours.
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Reading Progress

November 18, 2010 – Shelved
November 19, 2010 – Started Reading
November 22, 2010 – Finished Reading
April 1, 2015 – Shelved (Paperback Edition)
Started Reading (Paperback Edition)
April 26, 2015 – Finished Reading (Paperback Edition)
Started Reading (Kindle Edition)
January 18, 2019 – Finished Reading (Kindle Edition)
February 1, 2019 – Shelved (Kindle Edition)

Comments Showing 1-2 of 2 (2 new)

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Sandi Thanks for the warning. I had heard about this book and was intrigued, but I'm not an Austen fan. This sounds like it isn't my kind of book.


Nikki I don't think you have to be interested in Austen to enjoy it, but it's definitely based on her writing and her kinds of characters.


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