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Obviously the idea of Jane Austen with magic is utterly to my specific taste and I was both excitedly looking forward to listenting to this and also slightly dreading it all going HORRIBLY WRONG. Mary Robinette Kowal does a good job with the language and manners of the day. So may attempts as the period totally ignore the relevant social mores in which Austen's characters operated. There are all the plot elements you would expect of a Regency romance, plain older sister, the lure of officers, neighbourly gentlemen, condescending social superiors and, above all, the absolutely necessity of finding a hustband. All to be navigated via balls, visits, and generally taking a turn about the grounds. only with magic. The magical element is well thought out and very interesting.
The main problem, lies with the authors decision to narrate it herself. I think she is attempting an English accent but doesn't ever hit it. It probably would have been more successful if she had just used her won accent as I think she is a good reader in tone, pace and characterisation. Just not early 19th century English upper class characterisation. If this had been read by someone who could do the accent, I believe this might have been a 5 start listen.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?
I was promised I would love this book because I love Austen and Fantasy and mashup novels. I don't entirely regret listening to this book, it passed the time and had its moments but... meh...
Would you be willing to try another book from Mary Robinette Kowal? Why or why not?
Only if I was given it for free unfortunately. She's not a bad writer at all, it's just, at least in this novel, she tries too hard to be Jane Austen rather than focusing on being herself. No one can do Austen but Austen. Kowal has some lovely ideas but she doesn't have the wit and charm of Austen.
How did the narrator detract from the book?
The fake English accent... Oh God! It's so annoying! She's good at doing a variety of voices but the accent is all over the place. It very much sounds like what an American thinks of as British. Unfortunately, sometimes she sounds more Australian. I just couldn't get past it.
Was Shades of Milk and Honey worth the listening time?
Isn't this the same thing you asked me earlier Audible?
Any additional comments?
Based on this novel, I don't see the general popularity of Mary Robinette Kowal, to be honest. I don't get why people are raving. Frankly, her "glamour" is a brilliant idea and she IS a good writer but she should have more glamour and less regency romance. As it is, this novel is a poor rip-off of Austen (down to the plot which is basically Pride & Prejudice with a touch of Persuasion and Mansfield Park)
While there are definitely elements of various other classic regencies here (Jane Austen and all that), the idea was to blend them together, along with the magic of glamour, to create a story that is entertaining because you want to see how it plays out. Not how it turns out mind you, that is a pretty foregone conclusion, but how it plays out. What are the various turns of the story to be? How will the characters react to the foreshadowed events? It was like watching a story one is familiar with redone in a truly engrossing way. I found that the story immersed me, and I wanted to see how the author was going to pull the various strands together.
I also found that the magic of glamour, which I think is central to the story, was perfectly suited for the era. For a society so wrapped up in appearances and concerned over image this was a perfectly suited form of magic to emphasize. It also allows a different take on some of the events we know are going to happen as the story plays along. The scene involving the "tableaux vivant" (won't give more details away in a review) for example smoothly integrates glamour into a historical parlor entertainment (dressing up and posing as a sort of living statue). That was a nice bit of setting detail, but the scene itself -- how the characters perform it and so forth -- says quite a lot about the characters involved as well. Overall, I thought "glamour" was a good selection for the author to make that was also quite well executed within the story.
The performance was also very good. I was interested in that it was the author performing the narration, and I think that added to the story (it doesn't always, but it did in this case). I am interested in seeing what other work the author has narrated.
9 of 9 people found this review helpful
I was a little worried that I wouldn't like this book, but overall I was pleasantly surprised. I'm not a complete Austen fangirl, but I love her writing enough that I would have been entirely put off if the characters, setting, etc, had seemed fake or over the top. The characters were familiar, but this was mostly a positive and only occasionally distracting. I liked the addition of glamour to the world, which was a relief as that could have easily ruined everything if not done well.
The author's reading was great, although the accent was a little distracting occasionally. I could tell when she'd had a break and started again, but she soon settled into the voices and I would forgot about it until the next time. Overall it gets better as you go along.
I listened to this recording all in one day, with only a couple of breaks. It was exactly what I needed that day, as I pottered around the house doing odd jobs and a bit of drawing. To begin with it was a nice backdrop to my other activities, but by the end it had drawn me in so I was sitting by the computer with my stomach in a knot, wanting a good outcome for my favourite characters.
Overall the author has taken on a concept which would have been very easy to do wrong, and has delivered an entertaining read/listen. I'm looking forward to her next book in this series being released on Audible, and hope she will be reading it herself.
5 of 5 people found this review helpful