Mary Robinette Kowal stunned readers with her charming first novel, Shades of Milk and Honey, a loving tribute to the works of Jane Austen in a world where magic is an everyday occurrence. This magic comes in the form of glamour, which allows talented users to form practically any illusion they can imagine. Shades debuted to great acclaim and left readers eagerly awaiting its sequel. Glamour in Glass continues following the lives of beloved main characters Jane and Vincent, with a much deeper vein of drama and intrigue.
In the tumultuous months after Napoleon abdicates his throne, Jane and Vincent go to Belgium for their honeymoon. While there, the deposed emperor escapes his exile in Elba, throwing the continent into turmoil. With no easy way back to England, Jane and Vincent's concerns turn from enjoying their honeymoon…to escaping it.
Left with no outward salvation, Jane must persevere over her trying personal circumstances and use her glamour to rescue her husband from prison...and hopefully prevent her newly built marriage from getting stranded on the shoals of another country's war.
©2012 Mary Robinette Kowal (P)2013 Audible, Inc.
Master of None
Mary Robinette Kowal's first entry in this series, Shades of Milk and Honey, was a very standard regency romance with a very fun and genre appropriate magic system. It channeled Jane Austen very effectively, but stayed so close to the Pride and Prejudice formula that, while very enjoyable, was also fairly predictable.
Glamour in Glass keeps the regency voice and style, but ventures out of the drawing room into an adventure that is more Dumas than Austen. The result is charming, exciting, and sometimes touching. The author's prose and storytelling has improved noticeably from her last book, which was still very well written but slightly more forced.
As in Shades of Milk and Honey, the author herself narrates the book. She does quite well with both her British and French accents - at least my untrained ear was not bothered by either. I found the performance to be very pleasant.
While regency fantasy isn't the genre I would normally pick up, I would happily recommend this to any fantasy fan who doesn't require dark, moody environments and angsty endings. Happy listening!
Unlike the first book in the series, this is not a regency era romance novel. I don't generally like books with strong romance components, so I found this story to be better than the first in the series. I liked the regency setting and the Napoleonic references.
Glamour in Glass left me incredibly frustrated after a promising beginning. I liked so much about the first half of it, but the second half was riddled with all the weaknesses of Shades of Milk and Honey. And unlike Shades, which at least had a satisfying ending, it offered a culmination clumsily executed and much too convenient.
The trouble, I think, came from the author's seeming inability to know just what to make of her story. Is it meant to be a domestic drama about early married life? A tale about magical innovation? A Napoleonic spy caper? The author's indecision made for awkward pacing, and as the focus shifted to the intrigue surrounding Napoleon's return to France, she fumbled the remaining plot threads.
Early on, I really did like how she portrayed the everyday adjustments and struggles to communicate inherent in a new marriage - not a territory much explored in romance novels. I thought Jane & Vincent's love for one another, their difficulties and their mistakes were written very realistically. At first, Jane's pregnancy added to the effectiveness of the portrayal. The author was brave to show a woman's ambivalence at the possibility of becoming a mother as well as her excitement.
Unfortunately, the pregnancy became a tedious burden later on, because of this world's rule that women "with child" must not work glamour. The reasons for this precaution were never explained and didn't make sense in a society valuing glamour as a "womanly art." The prohibition took Jane off center stage, and just as in Shades, the story slowed to a snail's pace. The author needs to stop spending so much time in Jane's head, because her insecurities and constant worries - about her attractiveness, her worth, her husband's love - become insufferable to the point I wanted to scream at her, "Get over yourself, already!"
About two-thirds of the way through, I was still wondering when the story would kick into high gear. It finally did - only to offer a clumsily executed spy plot that read like Trixie Belden does espionage.
Honestly, I rolled my eyes at one improbable development after another, until I just wanted the book to end. Everything worked out for the "good guys" MUCH too easily, with their enemies conveniently behaving in improbable ways (even though Jane and Vincent themselves wandered into Too Stupid to Live territory).
The author's narration compared to Shades was weak also, as she forgot to keep track of who should speak with which accent. She sometimes neglected to give French-speaking characters any accent at all.
I will eventually listen to the third book in this series, as I've already downloaded it as a freebie from an Audible sale. But I definitely plan on taking a break from this world - long enough to forget the bad taste this book left in my mouth.
I don't really know how to rank this. I've read a huge variety of books.
I would guess that Ms. Vincent is my favorite. I loved the turn the book took towards the end with her use of the glass sphere. I don't want to give too much away, but I did really like it.
Well, with me, I don't really separate that. It's the same thing. When the audio performance matches how I think the character moves in my imagination I really like it and flock to that character. So the answer would be the same as above. Ms. Vincent.
Yes. I was laughing at some of the mannerisms and "impropriety" that the book references often, and was able to see how some aspects of it were understandable. I also was able to relate to being in new circumstances and having things that once were "improper" to me sort of become diminished and change as I changed. Just like the main character, Jane.
I really really liked the twist towards the end. I liked some of the ways that magic and glamours were represented in this book. I really hope that this author decides to expand more on that and give us some other adventures. I also liked some of the social/situational experiences that the book showed. It would be difficult being in another country as a visitor when there was war or something close.
My enjoyment of the first book in the series surprised me. I was surprised again by how this one managed to top that. The great characters of the first book are placed in a carefully-chosen setting and historical context that adds an exciting new dimension to the story in its last third. The main character in particular is pulled far out of her comfort zone into a situation that shows an exciting heroic aspect of her character that wasn't obvious in the first story and the story caps it all off with a powerfully bittersweet conclusion. The stakes are much higher than in the first book, which made me all that much more invested in what was happening. The author is very good at foreshadowing, maybe a little too good at it for her own good as some aspects of the story are a little predictable, but you'll never be 100% sure how it ends until you get to the end. Make no mistake, despite writing in Jane Austen's style and time period, this story feels much more modern than the last one.
Another huge improvement over its predecessor is the author's decision to dispense with the fake, forced-sounding British accent that she used for the narrator portions of the previous book in favor of her natural American accent. Ms. Kowal's voice is both warm and authoritative and comes across a lot better when she's not contorting it for effect. She still struggles a bit with accents, particularly the French ones (although this will only really bother you if you speak French), but this is far less disruptive when coming from the character voices, since they feel like they should be a little exaggerated anyway. The variety of voices she can do is also rather impressive. With the first book, I recommended reading it rather than listening to it on Audible, this one is a much better candidate for listening.
Now that Kowal isn't restrained by Austin type plot lines her talent really has an opportunity to shine. The regency setting remains but the story takes on a wonderful adventure and intrigue tone. My only regret is that it didn't last longer.
Glamour in Glass goes beyond the drawing room intrigue found on its predecessor and expands into the geopolitical climate of the early nineteenth century. While of necessity more violent than the first book, the author is careful not to have anything done out of character. It was extremely gratifying to read a book which in which the characters use creative problem solving rather than brute force. I eagerly anticipate where Jane and Vincent's adventures will next lead them.
Author of "Turned Wrong at Ding Dong."
I've enjoyed the series. It's light, but enjoyable summer reading. The characters are fun to follow.
Jane is a lively and interesting character, but I think she is too down on herself. It's the most oft-putting characteristic, but appropriate for the era.
The narrator's foreign accents seemed to have been honed at the Rooney-Yunioshi School of Bad and Racist Portrayals of Foreigners.
"The performance really distracted from the story."
I enjoyed listening to "Shades of Milk and Honey", so I went on and got "Glamour in Glass" as well. In terms of the story, the book is entertaining, the characters interesting. But I found the poor performance really distracting in this volume. The narrator's put-on British accent was already a bit hard to swallow in the first volume. "Glamour in Glass" is set in large part in Belgium, with short passages entirely in French, and long passages in fake French accent. The pronounciation of both was really, really poor to the point that it distracted from the story in a big way.
I thought I could ignore it, but now I think I'd have been better off reading the book, instead of listening to it.
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