Jane Ellsworth is a 28-year-old single woman in an alternative Regency-era England where magic is commonplace, and viewed as another "womanly art," similar to drawing or music. She and her younger sister Melody, as most of the young women of the time period are portrayed, are very preoccupied by their marital status and the interest of the eligible bachelors.
I was disappointed in this book. I've really come to appreciate good chick lit, and the entire time I was reading Shades of Milk and Honey, I kept thinking that it was so similar to Pride and Prejudice,
except that it was a pale imitation. The characters really missed the
mark for me. Jane Ellsworth and her younger sister Melody (and pretty
much everyone else) are simple, flat characters that the author seems to
have pulled out of a book of basic character types. Jane is the plain
but talented one who's resigned to spinsterhood, and Melody is the
pretty but vapid one, and each of them are envious of the other's
blessings. Their mother is sickly and obsessed with marrying them off,
their father is beneficent but distant, etc., etc. I did identify with
Jane a little bit. I'm the older daughter in my family, and I used to be
jealous of my sister's model-worthy good looks while she envied my
singing voice and artistic abilities. Except that we got over that when
we were teenagers. I'll remind you that Jane is 28 years old, and her
sister is in her early 20s. I'm just not sure if I believe their
behavior was realistic. Beyond that, Jane's romantic story line was
completely confusing. The love interest didn't have much screen time,
and I only remember one extremely ambiguous and extremely brief
description of what he even
There was no tension between the two, just ambivalence and a mild
quizzical feeling, so when they were suddenly in love, I felt like I
should be flipping back through the chapters looking for when that happened.
of that said, I did finish the book in one day, so it wasn't all bad. I
liked the world that Kowal created, and her magic system was
interesting, albeit without depth or purpose. Magic has so many possible useful
applications, other than decoration, that could have been (but were not)
explored. I feel like this whole book was like that. Enjoyable and
mildly interesting, but without the real depth and social commentary
that was present in Austen's books.
some reservation, I would recommend this book to someone looking for
very light reading set in a Regency-era England with magic.
Rating: 3 stars