Wednesday, August 24, 2011

All The Good Post Titles Were Taken

It really seems like I could come up with a clever name for a post about a book called Shades of Milk and Honey, but everything seemed obvious, trivial, or trite.  I blame Mary Robinette Kowal, for making me realize that I will never be as clever as the great ones.

First, the premise: this book is a straight Jane-Austen-style drawing room drama, only in a world where one of the many accomplishments expected of a young woman is glamour, or magical illusion.  That's almost all you need to know about the story for me to talk about it, but I'll give you a little more: Jane is plain and solemn but very accomplished, while her sister Melody is beautiful and charming but less skilled.  They need husbands.  There, now you know what I need to tell you.

Shades of Milk and HoneyWhat I mean by that is that now you can go out and read it.  And you should, because it's so sweet, and fine, and fluffy.  I'm not going to claim it's note-perfect Austen--rather, it's a strong imitation.  The period style of writing is sometimes too insistent--especially when an unusual spelling like "shew" for "show" comes up more than once on the same page--but I actually found that incredibly endearing.  The precision of language and sentence construction was just right, and lulls you into the structured, proper world you want to be in.

The magic is a wonderful addition, too.  This is not high adventure magic; this is creating art with "folds of ether" instead of paintbrushes or hat trimmings (though rest assured, bonnets are trimmed in the book).  There are plot points about magic, but you could almost have used painting instead in most of them. And it's woven so comfortably into the story that you hardly notice it--it does nothing to take you out of the story.

This is not a deep, thought-provoking novel.  This is a light, fun little romantic meringue of a book that you should take time to read in between all the other, more substantial things you have to do with your time.  I can't urge you strongly enough--read it!  Now!

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