Shades of Milk and Honey by Mary Robinette Kowal
Tom Doherty Associates, 2010 (first edition); 304 pages
If you’ve read much Austen or Heyer, you’ve come across most of the plot of this book before, so I’ll leave off any detailed description of that quarter. But the similarity to other books doesn’t really detract from the entertainment value of this book.
If I had to guess, I’d say this book is set during the Regency era. It’s mostly true to historical facts, with the exception of glamour, which is magic that is used to create illusion. Glamour is used to decorate houses, to create works of art, and to generally make things appear different than how they really are. Using glamour to deceive others for one’s own benefit is frowned upon, however. Using glamour to improve one’s looks is viewed just as using makeup was in the past: deceptive and unnatural. There’s also the issue of using glamour to beautify oneself with the purpose of getting a husband; when the day comes that one cannot keep up the illusion, how will he feel to know that his beautiful wife isn’t what he thought?
My only real criticism of Shades of Milk and Honey (besides the fact that I have no idea what the title means), is that the ending covers too much ground too quickly and then ends abruptly. It really doesn’t fit with the graceful flow of the rest of the novel.