Saturday, August 25, 2012

Glamour in Glass by Mary Robinette Kowal (Guest review)

This cold I have has meant I've read a little less than usual, but my wife recently read Mary Robinette Kowal's Glamour in Glass and was moved enough to review it, so with her permission I'm posting it here.

I've just finished reading Glamour in Glass this evening, and I don't usually review books (mostly cos there's many other places that review books so much better than me), but I really enjoyed this and wanted to burble about it a bit.

This is the second in the Glamourist Histories (not sure if I like this as a series title, but it is descriptive, I guess), I bought & read the first one Shades of Milk and Honey last year, I'm trying to remember where I found out about it.  I think I may have I heard about it at Aussiecon4, as according to my book-list last year, I read it at the start of July.
Anyway, the premise of Shades intrigued me - think Jane Austen with added magic, and I really enjoyed that, so was very happy to see that there was a sequel.

The thing about this book that was particularly interesting to me was it tackles the idea of what happens in the "after" of the "happily ever after" that ends Jane Austen-type romances (or most romances, for that matter!).  I guess it's especially true of period romances, in that they generally end on the wedding, and you never see the life afterwards.

With this book, you know that the two main characters love each other, but they don't know each other very well yet.  Jane is constrained by the society values of the time, which means that her skill at glamour (the magic system) is thought to be an excellent accomplishment to have (like painting or playing music) but not something to pursue as a career.  And it also is a dangerous thing to perform whilst pregnant - an extra fun thing to have to worry about on top of all the "normal" problems that can be associated with child-bearing of the time!

Jane is worried that she is becoming a burden on David and his work when he seems to be deliberately excluding her from a commission they have received from an english emigree in Brussells (they're in Belgium for their honeymoon just before Napoleon's defeat at Waterloo), and he's terribly secretive about what he's doing and who he's seeing.  And David doesn't seem to realise that he's hurting her feelings when he does this.  She also starts to doubt her abilities as a glamourist as David dismisses her suggestions for the commission without much thought.
All-in-all, there's lots of misunderstandings between the two of them before things are resolved happily (again)

It's not just about the "after" of the "happily ever after", as the story is set in Belgium just before the Battle of Waterloo, there's stuff about leading up to the battle; the development of new ways of working with glamour; spies on all sides of the conflict.

This will go into my "books to stay on the shelves" - of which I and my husband have many, but still have piles of books on the floor of the library! - and will look forward to others in the series.

And as an aside, I loved the cover of the book.  The woman in period costume with the soap bubbles around her head is something that jumped out at me from the shelves.  Possibly because I bought this at a local SF/Fantasy/Comics/Pop Culture shop, and a historical cover is more likely to stand out in that particular instance.

I like Larry Rostant's cover-art-photography-work, and when I googled images, I was amazed at how many of the books he's done the covers for we have at home.  I first became aware of him becuase he did the covers for the issues of the Elizabeth Chadwick historicals I have.

No comments:

Post a Comment