Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Shades of Milk and Honey, by Mary Robinette Kowal

Continuing my reading of award winners, I have just finished Shades of Milk and Honey.  Also available at a public library near you.  Makes me glad for some compulsive tendencies on reading, as it is not something normally in my comfort zone.  Kowal sets out to write a novel in the style of Jane Austen.  I have never read Jane Austen, at least not more than paragraphs, so I get an echo here.  It's a shortish and easy read.  The speculative part is only one power, that of "glamour", which closely associates with femininity though it is a form of illusion.  Like beauty, some men work in it particularly well.  It's a standard plot, fitting for a style novel, wherein our "plain Jane" heroine, though smart and skilled, is not thought of as wife material and is resigned to spinsterhood.  And yet she is the one who must save her family honor.  The action is satisfying, if a bit long delayed.  And the novel actually closes off, so there's not a lot of room for a sequel.  Unlikely she'll revisit the space, though it is possible.  There is a somewhat weak attempt to age the spelling--"shewed" for "showed" is about the only instance, but it's used a lot--and it wasn't necessary.  The style is carried in the choice of words, the spelling was not important.  Not quite four stars, but I will give it a comfortable three.

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