Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Shades of Milk and Honey

I have mixed feelings about Shades of Milk and Honey by Mary Robinette Kowal. First of all, Ms. Kowal did an excellent job of imagining the Jane Austen era, but with a specific kind of magic added to the world. Most writers who try to recreate this time period beat you over the head with Regency trivia to prove they've done their homework. Kowal does not suffer from this. She writes very smoothly and it feels era appropriate. Details are given, but they're not clunkily trying to put you in the setting, they are part of the setting.

So everything was going along well and I was enjoying myself until about 3/4 of the way through. Then things went slightly pear shaped. Shades of Milk and Honey is definitely not a bodice ripper, but somehow the ending takes on a bit of a bodice ripper plot. I think this must be a challenge to the writer, for while she has steeped herself in the time period, it's also a time period of women being passive and that's hard to accept as a modern woman. We want to be part of the action. Or at least believe we would be part of the action. Gone are the days of stories where the princess has a little snooze in the tower while she waits for the prince to show up and make everything right. Unfortunately, this does conflict with the nature of a true Austen type book. Sooo... the ending feels a little awkward, but in general I enjoyed the book. I would recommend it to any Austen or historical fiction fan. And if you happen to also like a bit of magic in your narrative, even better.

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