Shades of Milk and Honey is written by Mary Robinette Kowal. It was published in 2010 by Tor.
Shades of Milk and Honey is an intimate portrait of Jane Ellsworth, a woman ahead of her time in a version of Regency England where the manipulation of glamour is considered an essential skill for a lady of quality. Despite the prevalence of magic in everyday life, other aspects of Dorchester’s society are not that different: Jane and her sister Melody’s lives still revolve around vying for the attentions of eligible men. Jane resists this fate, and rightly so, because while her skill with glamour is remarkable, it is her sister who is fair of face, and therefore wins the lion’s share of the attention. At the ripe old age of twenty-eight, Jane has resigned herself to being invisible forever. But when her family’s honor is threatened, she finds that she must push her skills to the limit in order to set things right—and, in the process, accidentally wanders into a love story of her own.
Someone recommended Shades of Milk and Honey to me after I commented how much I loved Patricia C. Wrede’s Sorcery & Cecelia. I’d heard of Mary Robinette Kowal before, but somehow never looked at one of her books before. And let me tell you…I absolutely LOVED this book.
This book is like the ultimate tribute to Jane Austen with a unique magical twist to it. Shades of Milk and Honey is equal parts Sense & Sensibility, Persuasion, and Pride & Prejudice with Kowal’s own unique spin. And it is awesome.
I don’t know why, but I found the part towards the end where Jane is riding around the countryside and telling people that she’s speaking metaphorically one of the funniest parts of the book. It’s supposed to be tense and dramatic and “Will she get to the carriage on time!?” but I don’t know, maybe it was the character interactions or something, but I found it hilarious.
If you’re a Jane Austen fan, or just like Regency novels in general, read this one, because it’s fantastic. Yes, Jane is a bit limp, at least at first, and the plot points are pretty obvious, but I really enjoyed it even so.
Recommended Age Range: 14+
Genre: Fantasy, Historical Fiction
“Did you see him, Jane?”
“Who?” Jane said, as she drew Melody to the side of the floor, though she knew well who Melody meant.
“Captain Livingston! If there is a more handsome, graceful man, I know not where to find him. He is all that is courtesy. And wit! La! Such wit he has, and his tales of his work with the navy are fascinating. He has made a fortune for himself with his captures, and at so young an age.”
“I am certain you did not think so highly of him when he left a frog in your sewing kit.”
Shades of Milk and Honey reminds me of Jane Austen, and it has a wonderful fantasy twist to it. It’s sweet, unique, and really funny in parts, and I smiled all the way through.
You can buy this here: Shades of Milk and Honey