Shades of Milk and Honey, + a chat with the author on Twitter

I read Pride and Prejudice in high school and college, thankful I had put it behind me. Slumped at a desk with pink-streaked hair and dirty Converses, a marriage plot among ladies of class fell short of resonating with me as a reader. So when someone suggested I read Shades of Milk and Honey —promoted by its publisher as Jane Austen, with magic—I had my reservations. Flash forward one week to me forgetting to feed my grandmother (sorry, Grams)  and missing MAX stops with this book in hand.

Mary Robinette Kowal has won scads of sci-fi and fantasy awards for her short fiction—Hugo, Nebula, Locus, you name it. After reading Shades of Milk and Honey, it’s easy to see why. Her style is easy, her sentences agile, and her dialogue witty. And if there were a few “shews” and “La!’s” thrown in, well, I might have even enjoyed them.  

Shades of Milk and Honey is a story of two sisters, one born with stunning looks and the other born with a stunning mind. Jane Ellsworth is the neighborhood’s best glamourist, expertly conjuring scents, sounds and images that enhance the family home. Jane fights her attraction to a very eligible neighbor, Mr. Dunkirk, while her younger sister loses herself in a maze of feelings for the same man. Their sibling rivalry is full of bitterness, and jealousy, but also moments of kindness. Jane struggles to tame her own passions while keeping a watchful eye out for her sister—and fails, spectacularly, among secret rendezvous and sensational duels.

Kowal’s debut is a light, absorbing read—a perfect choice to enjoy in the Portland sunshine, while it lasts. Be on the lookout for our upcoming Twitter chat with the author on Aug. 11th, from 12-1. Please join the conversation!