Thursday, September 5, 2013

Glamour in Glass, Mary Robinette Kowal

Glamour in Glass (Glamourist Histories, #2)Finding oneself a guest of honor only increases the presentiment of anxiety, should one be disposed to such feelings. 

"Mary Robinette Kowal stunned readers with her charming first novel Shades of Milk and Honey , a loving tribute to the works of Jane Austen in a world where magic is an everyday occurrence. This magic comes in the form of glamour, which allows talented users to form practically any illusion they can imagine. Shades debuted to great acclaim and left readers eagerly awaiting its sequel. Glamour in Glass continues following the lives of beloved main characters Jane and Vincent, with a much deeper vein of drama and intrigue.In the tumultuous months after Napoleon abdicates his throne, Jane and Vincent go to Belgium for their honeymoon. While there, the deposed emperor escapes his exile in Elba, throwing the continent into turmoil. With no easy way back to England, Jane and Vincent’s concerns turn from enjoying their escaping it. Left with no outward salvation, Jane must persevere over her trying personal circumstances and use her glamour to rescue her husband from prison...and hopefully prevent her newly built marriage from getting stranded on the shoals of another country's war."

I have mixed feelings about this series, and I don't think I'm going to continue reading it. After all, they're kind of amusing, but really not worth it. And Glamour in Glass was in some ways worse and some ways better than the first book. The glamour itself kind of annoys me, with all the technical descriptions of gossamer and folds. It really doesn't make much sense, and it isn't well described or developed in the second book as I thought it would be.

Jane also kind of annoyed me. In Glamour in Glass she looks down on everyone she sees, mainly women. They're all idiots, according to her. Some of them are, but not at all. The only intelligent women she meets she dismisses because of their low moral character, like the Prince Regent's mistress. Still, the series isn't all bad; it's just light and fluffy, and not really worth one's time. I can't say that I recommend the books. There are some interesting parts, but overall, it doesn't work. I did enjoy that Glamour in Glass picks up where Austen's novels usually end: after the wedding. 

Jane made me more and more annoyed as the book went on. She's at a dinner party in Belgium, and it's slightly different there in terms of what's considered propitious. Jane basically has a fit, and can't consider a woman a "lady" anymore because she sits on a man's lap. I realize that as an Englishwoman, Jane would be prejudiced, but still, considering her other views and fondness for politics, one would think that she would be a bit more progressive than being disgusted by women smoking cigars. I wanted to smack her. At least at the end of the chapter she concedes that, "shocking though the behaviour had been, she could not help but appreciate that the ladies' opinions appeared to have as much value as the gentlemen's." (pg. 117). 

The idea which gives the book its title, glamour in glass, is interesting, but like the rest of the magic, it is poorly described and difficult to grasp. I think overall that these two books have fairly good writing which echoes Austen, but are weak on plot and description. 

I ended up making it to page 150 of Glamour in Glass. It was just kind of boring, and there was a huge stack of books awaiting me. I didn't care about the characters all that much, and I didn't feel like forcing myself to read on. 

Was Glamour in Glass worse than Shades of Milk and Honey? Not necessarily. One book was just all I could stand. Maybe one shouldn't read them so close. A few months in between might make me ready to pick up a sequel. 

Anyway, I'll certainly not be continuing with this series.

319 pages. 


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