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 honeymoon…to 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.
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About the Author
Mary Robinete Kowal was the 2008 recipient of the Campbell Award for Best New Writer and a Hugo winner for her story "For Want of a Nail." Her short fiction has appeared in Strange Horizons, Asimov's, and several Year's Best anthologies. Mary is an active member of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America and currently serves on the board of directors.
A professional puppeteer and voice actor, Mary grew up in North Carolina and spent five years touring nationally with puppet theaters. She currently lives in Portland, Oregon, with her husband, Rob, and nine manual typewriters.
MARY ROBINETTE KOWAL was the 2008 recipient of the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer and a Hugo winner for her story “For Want of a Nail.” Her short fiction has appeared in Strange Horizons, Asimov’s, and several Year’s Best anthologies. She also writes the Glamourist History series, which began with Shades of Milk and Honey. A professional puppeteer and voice actor, she spent five years touring nationally with puppet theaters. She lives in Chicago with her husband Rob and many manual typewriters.
Read an Excerpt
Glamour in Glass
By Mary Robinette Kowal
Tom Doherty AssociatesCopyright © 2012 Mary Robinette Kowal
All rights reserved.
There are few things in this world that can simultaneously delight and dismay in the same manner as a formal dinner party. Finding oneself a guest of honour only increases the presentiment of anxiety, should one be disposed to such feelings. Jane Vincent could not help but feel some measure of alarm upon hearing her name called by the Prince Regent, for though she fully expected to be escorted into dinner by someone other than her husband, she had not expected to accompany His Royal Highness and to be seated at his right hand. Though this was but an intimate dinner party of eighteen, by the order of precedence her place should be at the rear of the line. Yet one could hardly express such doubts to His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales, Regent of the United Kingdom of Great Britain, Faerie, and Ireland.
The only title Jane could claim on her own was that of Mrs. David Vincent, and her entire claim for being invited at all lay in her marriage to the Prince Regent's favourite glamourist. As they exited Carlton House through a tented hall, Jane felt all the eyes of those assembled fall upon her, and under their gaze the unequal nature of her station magnified. The dove silk which had seemed so fine when she had commissioned it last summer now seemed dingy by comparison to gowns such as Lady Hertford's rich claret velvet, which had long sleeves slashed to allow glimpses of a cloth of silver. Her mother had wanted to buy her a new gown, but Jane had resisted. She was an artisan now, and had no intention of pretending to be part of the fashionable set ... and yet, being escorted by the Prince Regent made that choice seem less easy now.
But all that worry fell away upon entering the Polygon Ballroom, which glittered and dripped with diaphanous folds of glamour hung to create the illusion of a water folly filled with mermaids and seahorses. She and Vincent had laboured for the past three months on the spectacle and they could justly be proud of the effect, though she would have to retouch the anemones when she had a chance. The colour was off when compared to the palette of this winter's fashions.
The Prince Regent stopped with her on the threshold of the temporary structure and inhaled with pleasure.
They had taken the Polygon Ballroom, designed by Mr. John Nash for the fête honouring the defeat of Napoleon, and transformed it for the coming New Year's Eve celebration by refashioning it into the home of a sea king. Elaborate swathes of glamour masked the walls so that they appeared to be in the midst of a coral palace with views onto an under-sea world. Past the casements of the illusory walls, brilliant tropical fish schooled in waves of shimmering colour. Light seemed to filter down through clear blue water to lay dappled on the smooth white tablecloths.
The Prince Regent smiled and patted her hand where it lay on the dark blue cloth of his sleeve. "My dear Mrs. Vincent. I have long been an admirer of your husband's work, but you have led him to new heights of glory."
"You honour me, sir, far more than I think I deserve."
"I honour you as much as I think you deserve, and you must grant that my wishes are the law in this land."
Jane let him lead her swiftly across the vast ballroom to the head of the table and place her by the chair on his right hand. Only then did Jane understand the true gift the Prince Regent offered her. They had far outpaced the guests immediately behind them, who paused on the threshold, apparently overcome by the room. As the line forced them forward, they proceeded toward the table, but slowly, with eyes fixed in wonder on the illusion. Stationed as she was, Jane stood in a perfect place to witness the guests' approbation over and over again as even the most jaded halted to gasp upon the threshold.
Their faces shone with wonder at the work she and Vincent had created.
As the last couple approached, His Royal Highness leaned over and whispered in her ear. "Now watch."
Her husband stood on the threshold, escorting Lady Hertford. The Prince Regent began to applaud, and, as one, his guests joined him in honouring Mr. Vincent. Jane did not know whether to applaud with them out of her own deep admiration for her husband, or if she should remain silent, since she had borne half the burden of the work about them. She settled for folding her hands at her breast and letting forth an unfettered smile.
Vincent paused, clearly taken unawares by this open show of approbation. He inclined his head gravely, then, straightening, led Lady Hertford to the foot of the table and her place at his right hand. Never comfortable in company, the sternness of his face hid what Jane knew to be very real feeling.
The Prince Regent reached for his glass and raised it. "To Mr. Vincent and to his bride, who shows us that he is no longer a glamourist without peer."
Jane blushed at the attention as every head turned to her. She could see them recalculating her worth and now understanding why the Prince Regent had led such an unhandsome woman into dinner. Under the weight of their stares, her gaze fell to the table, taking refuge among the plate and crystal assembled there. Her relief when the Prince pulled her chair out and seated her could scarcely be imagined.
Accustomed as she was to the more retiring life on her father's country estate, Jane had not looked for any honours when she married Mr. Vincent. The few months of their marriage had been filled with work and the joy of learning to shape their lives together. This commission had seemed honour enough when it had come, almost as if it were a wedding gift from the Prince Regent.
Around them, the footmen began bringing out the first course, a turtle soup. Jane was glad to have the activity distract attention from her. She took advantage of the respite to gather herself so that when the Prince Regent next addressed her, she was better prepared for conversation.
The initial topics were of such amicable and unforced weight as the weather, and if she thought it might snow on the morrow. She did not and said so.
This relieved his royal highness, as the press of carriages expected for the New Year's Eve festivities would be immense. By the time the soup was cleared, Jane felt somewhat more at ease and was able to engage the Prince Regent in a conversation about music, a topic on which they shared some common ground.
"You must allow that Rossini is far superior to the froth that Spohr is passing off as composition. It confounds me that the Italian fellow is not better known." The Prince Regent selected an oyster from the array of dishes the footman laid upon the table with the next course.
"I have not had the privilege of hearing his music performed in earnest, so I am not a good judge, I am afraid."
He huffed. "You only have to examine the page to see the difference between them. One's music flows with the inevitability of a stream, the other staggers from theme to theme like a drunken beggar." He lifted his glass and nodded over it to the gentleman on her left. "Am I not right, Skiffy?"
On her left, Sir Lumley St. George Skeffington abandoned the conversation with his dinner partner to answer. "Of course you are right. When are you ever not? But what is it that you are right about this time?"
"I suggest that Rossini is superior to Spohr."
"Oh." Sir Lumley waved his hand in dismissal. "I do not follow such things. Ask me about a tailor, and I might honour you with an opinion."
The Prince Regent smiled, and glanced sidelong at Jane. "Then pray, tell me what you think of Monsieur Lecomte?"
"Oh! Horrid. Horrid, I tell you. I have never seen a man with less understanding of the nature of cloth than he displays. Why, did you know that I went in on the recommendation of a friend, whose advice I shall not favour henceforth, and M. Lecomte had the temerity to suggest superfine cloth? To me?" He took out a perfumed handkerchief and patted his forehead. "I turned on my heel and left without another sign. It was clear he was not current."
Smiling, the Prince Regent adjusted the sleeve of his coat, which was, Jane was startled to note, cut from superfine cloth. "So, you see, Mrs. Vincent, he does not always agree with me."
Sir Lumley leaned back in his chair in a show of mock horror. "Now, Prinny, you do not mean to tell me that you have honoured M. Lecomte with your business?"
"I was, I confess, curious to see how a man who claimed to have worked for Napoleon might measure against our good English tailors."
Jane smiled in polite interest. When the silence seemed to indicate that it was her turn to speak, she ventured to ask, "How did you find him, sir?"
The Prince considered for a moment and then offered a single word. "Foppish."
"And yet you wear the coat he made for you?" Jane studied the coat. It was cut along French lines, but she had begun to grow used to that as the fashionable set raced to catch up with the other side of the Channel. "Might I inquire as to why?"
"It amuses me."
Jane was uncertain if that amusement stemmed from the tailor or from the near apoplexy he had brought on in Sir Lumley. Her attention was distracted from this question, for, in examining the Prince's coat, she happened to spy the glamural beyond him. She could barely stifle an "Oh!" at what she beheld and kept her countenance placid only with some difficulty.
Behind a window in the coral, they had placed a school of iridescent fish, swimming past at intervals. The effect had been achieved by measuring out a long spool of thin glamour, which contained no illusion save for occasional bubbles, and then looping it around to tie to the fish. Though Jane had used such threads of empty space before, she had worked with none so long as this. It had required her to stand in one place to control the thread for exactly as long as she had wanted the interval to be. Her husband had but recently showed her his technique of braiding seemingly similar threads together at somewhat different lengths to create the appearance of random intervals. Jane had created the fish thrice, one that came at three minutes, one at five, and one at eight. It created the illusion of but one school of fish, swimming past at random moments.
And yet, as she watched, two schools of fish went by hard on the tails of one another.
"Do you not think so, Mrs. Vincent?" His Royal Highness leaned close to her, smiling.
Jane straightened in her seat, alarmed that she had lost track of the conversation. "I could hardly dare to venture an opinion."
"You do your husband wrong, if you should not vouch for him."
She would do her husband more wrong if her fears about the fish were correct, and yet to admit that she had been ignoring the Prince would not do. Jane sought for some answer that would serve. "But you see, sir, as his wife I am over-partial to him and cannot be trusted to give an unbiased opinion. I must bow to yours."
"Then I will make it so, and trust that it give you some pleasure as well." The Prince Regent lifted the asparagus tongs and offered her a few delicate spears.
Jane nodded her assent, without having the least idea of what he would make so, while darting glances at the window where the fish appeared. If she unfocused her attention on the tangible world and let her vision slip into that realm of ether where the folds of glamour lay, she could study the thread as it flowed past. From watching others, she knew that such distraction gave her countenance a somewhat insipid expression which might be appealing on certain beauties, but not on her own unassuming plainness. It was too at odds with the sharpness of her features to be pleasing.
The knot went past. It had, as Jane suspected, slipped. What alarmed her more was that it showed every sign that it was on the verge of coming untied altogether. She tried to remember what she had fixed that thread of glamour around.
"And have you been to the Continent before, Mrs. Vincent?"
The question brought Jane's attention back to the table. "I have not, sir."
"Then I suggest avoiding the north of France when you go, though I cannot remember where Mr. Vincent said his colleague lived. Still, I counsel against it, as well as parts of Spain and Italy. While Napoleon has abdicated, there are still factions that would seek to put his son on the throne. I think it shall be calmed by the time you travel, but you must let me make some arrangements for your tour."
Jane was all astonishment. To the best of her knowledge, neither she nor Vincent had spoken of going abroad, and yet the Prince Regent spoke as if it were a certainty that they would go. "Sir —"
He held up his hand. "Mrs. Vincent, you must do me the favour of not using my honourific with every sentence. It does wear on one. In an intimate setting such as this, I would rather be reminded that I dine with friends than that I am Prince. I shall have enough of that tomorrow, and while it does have its merits, one enjoys it only for a time."
He referred, of course, to the grand opening of the ballroom to the public, in which he would dine in great state. Once the ballroom was open, there would be no opportunity for repairs. Jane would have to attend to the fish as soon as dinner had completed, lest they unravel farther.
"Of course ... and yet, one must call you something."
"Oh, as to that" — Sir Lumley again disregarded his duties to his dinner partner to drawl — "we all call him 'Prinny.' I dare say he would like you to do the same."
"Oh yes, would you do me that kindness?"
"And you shall call me Skiffy." Sir Lumley leaned in close. "We are all terribly fond of you, for your husband's sake."
Not for her own, but this could hardly surprise Jane. She attempted a smile while trying to recall where the thread of glamour went. "Thank you for the honour. And have you known each other long?" In this manner, she hoped to distract the gentlemen to talk between themselves. No matter how rude that might make Sir Lum — Skiffy to his dinner partner, it would grant her some brief span in which to puzzle out the fish. While Vincent had created glamurals this elaborate before, if perhaps on a smaller scale, it was the most intricate work which Jane had yet attempted, and the sheer number of threads, folds, weaves, and braids of glamour overwhelmed her memory.
"Prinny had come down to Eton for a fête back when your husband was still a Hamil —" Skiffy cleared his throat, just avoiding pronouncing the name that Vincent had renounced. "Even in those days Vincent had the reputation of being a curmudgeon. Though we were all terribly fond of him."
Jane's attention was now split in two. On the one hand, she worried about the fish, for, if on their first commission together, she introduced a flaw into their work, it would not bode well for their future projects. And yet, Vincent so rarely talked about his life before giving up his family name to pursue his art that her curiosity was piqued beyond all else.
"Your husband had glamoured the clock tower so it showed the time backwards!" The Prince — Prinny — threw his head back and laughed.
Skiffy resumed the tale. "Oh, the deans were furious at that one, because he had managed to tie the glamour off so it did not show in the least. In any case, they could not conceive of how someone might have climbed the clock tower to weave one. Which showed your husband's cleverness, for he did not ascend the tower at all."
"No? How did he do it then?" Jane's interest in her question faltered almost at once as she finally traced the thread of glamour to its source. The fish's trailing line was wrapped around the support for the coral reef comprising the wall opposite her. She had thought herself exceedingly clever for finding a way to contain it thus without having to loop the thread into the earth for stability, but the trouble she now faced was that if the knot came undone all at once, it might snag and cause an unravelling in the wall as well.
Prinny chuckled again. "Your husband created it from the base of the tower."
Jane choked on her turbot at this and had to hold her serviette to her lips to stifle her coughing. The Prince patted her on the back, and passed her a glass of water.
"Thank you." She cleared her throat, conscious of once again attracting more attention from the table than she might have wished.
At the foot of the table, Vincent studied her, his brows raised in concern. She gave him the smallest shake of her head to let him know that she did not require his aid, though she desperately wished that she were seated near him. One of the distinct disadvantages of being married was that one never sat with one's spouse when dining in company.
Giving the Prince Regent her attention, Jane kept her composure smooth. "Though I above all should be partial to my husband's talents, still I find my credulity stretched by this."
Excerpted from Glamour in Glass by Mary Robinette Kowal. Copyright © 2012 Mary Robinette Kowal. Excerpted by permission of Tom Doherty Associates.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
1. Dinner Conversation,
2. Art and Talent,
3. Flattery and Letters,
4. Family and Consideration,
5. Travel and a Little Napoleon,
6. Damask and Rainbows,
7. Ensconced in Glamour,
8. Language and Politics,
9. Blowing Glass,
10. Parade of Gilles,
11. The Lamb Lies Down,
12. Repeating the Coda,
13. Leaves and Embroidery,
14. Sunlight and Keys,
15. Ribbons of White and Red,
16. The Writing Desk,
17. Retreat and Regard,
18. The Honeybee Considered,
19. An Appeal to Sensibility,
20. To Brussels and Back Again,
21. A Question of Innocence,
22. Cravats and Easels,
23. Champagne and Rope,
24. Into the Rye,
25. Glamour and Rue,
Reading Group Guide,
Tor Books by Mary Robinette Kowal,
About the Author,
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Another enjoyable read from Mary Robinette Kowal. Like Shades of Milk and Honey, I wouldn't usually find myself attracted a story set in the Regency period, with all of the preaning society and fussing over propriety and fashion and such. I would much rather read books with action, maybe with spies and science fiction. But I enjoyed the first book of the series and felt like I was invested in it, so onward! Happily, not only does this book deliver on the period details and characters, it also brings in some action and spies, and takes the fantasy almost into science fiction (Jane comes up with the idea of capturing the effects of glamour/magic in glass, hence the title). Napolean is in exile and peace has broken out on the continent. The recently married Jane and Vincent head for Belgium to spend time with his glamour mentor. This gives Jane a new set of societal, political and personal problems to navigate. Then Napolean goes on the move again and things heat up. The writing is top-notch. The author has a deft touch with character and dialog. Settings are distinct and vivid. I'm looking forward to the next book.
"Glamour in Glass" picks up where "Shades of Milk and Honey" left off, shortly after Jane's wedding to Vincent. "Shades" was very much a Jane Austen-like regency romance with some lovely magic thrown in, but "Glamour" is more historical fiction, with Jane and Vincent finding themselves smack in the middle of the Napoleonic war. There is still the wonderful manners and language of the Regency period, so Jane Austen followers will not be disappointed, but we get to see a newly married, if unconventional couple sorting out the details of their married life in a historical setting all while practicing their magical craft. A very imaginative, refreshing book!
In perfect keeping with Milk and Honey, this novel pays homage to Jane Austin, while creating an original alternate universe. Delicious.
My Disclaimer: I purchased a copy of this book at the current price. I am voluntarily providing an honest review in which all opinions are fully my own. I am not being compensated in any way. ~ Judi E. Easley for Blue Cat Review My Review: ✰✰✰✰✰ Book Two in the series is just as good as Book One was! This one is Jane and Vincent’s story. They’ve gotten married and they go off on a honeymoon rather than to visit her parents after a dinner with Prinny, as he asked Jane to call him. It was a high society dinner Jane had no experience with and ended strangely with a long wait for Vincent while he added something the Prince had asked him to add to the glamural they had created. Jane ends up being sent home by Prinny and his mistress in a carriage and Vincent comes home in the wee hours exhausted and in a rather bad mood. Jane is in her own bad mood when she finds out he stayed to change something that they had designed together. Two grumpy people in one marriage! Yikes! People at the dinner kept asking Jane about her trip to the continent, but Jane knew nothing about it. She tried to cover up with neutral comments until she could speak with Vincent the next day. That’s when she found out they were going on a honeymoon and that Prinny was providing them transport on a ship in two day’s time. So nice of him! But why hadn’t Vincent discussed this with her? On the continent, Napolean is still on Elba, and all is well between the French and Brits. But French society has always been a bit (?) looser than British society and Jane gets her eye-full at one dinner when the ladies don’t leave when the port is served. The goings-on rather insults and embarrass her in fact. The French have a good laugh at her expense and she bears up under it well, but not happily. In England, only the Prince brings his mistress to the table with polite society! For about half of this book, Jane is unaware of what her husband is actually doing. She just knows he’s acting strangely and isn’t telling her anything. She’s terribly tempted to spy on him when the English-French maid they have returns his travel desk’s key to her one day with some laundry. But she’s a good wife and doesn’t snoop. She returns the key to him. But she soon knows what’s going on and Napolean is loose again and headed in their direction. Jane suffers an incident after working glamour and faints. The doctor is called and she is told she cannot work glamour until this is over. She is not happy about this, but she complies. Until it is their lives or glamour. It has the expected results and Jane feels terribly guilty about it. But she also feels other feelings that she hadn’t expected. She really needs Vincent’s support, and he rises to the occasion and surrounds her with love and care. There are no sex scenes as this is a JA re-tale. The violence is referred to after the fact or downplayed politely, off in the distance. It’s all in what might be considered JA style. The pace is good. Things move along and you go right along with them. If there is any problem, it’s the distraction of the glamour students, but they are only red herrings. In true Jane Austen style, every time Jane has to go somewhere, she writes to someone to tell them where she is going and with whom. Even when she runs off into the face of Napolean’s approaching army! Jane Austen would be so proud of her! I know I was! Hope you enjoy reading this second installation in the Glamourist Histories! I highly recommend it.
in both characterization and story. To say more risks spoilers.
Live this author. Can't out her stuff down. It is Austen or Heyer but with an imagintive twist.
Once more, Mary Robinette Kowal draws me into her wonderful alternate Austenesque universe. In her usual beautiful lilting voice, she carries us into a world where heroines in the style of Lizzie Bennet and Marianne Dashwood dabble in the art of magic. This is a wonderful lark into the Regency period, with a dash of fantasy. I loved her first novel in this series, and even as an Austen purist, I can appreciate these books. Mary's quick, rapier wit and gift for language is translated quite powerfully in her work. I recommend these books to anyone who reads Austen or Heyer or the like.