Tuesday, May 7, 2013

What I've Read This Week Part I

What I've Read This Week  Part I. . .

Without a Summer (Gamourist Histories 3) by Mary Robinette Kowal -- Historical Fantasy

Lady Jane and Sir David Vincent have returned to England after their adventures in Belgium. The talented glamourists have caught the notice of the Prince Regent, who has knighted Vincent. When they receive a commission in London from the Baron of Stratton, they decide to bring Melody with them to reduce her ennui and introduce her to eligible gentlemen. When they arrive in London, they discover the city in chaos. The temperatures remain cold even into summer and the superstitious public are blaming the coldmongers for the weather, causing riots throughout London.
Melody finally finds a gentleman she connects with, but she doesn't trust her own feelings. Jane fears the gentleman is unsuitable and connected to something dangerous. Vincent's father, Lord Verbury is also in London, attempting to make amends with his son. Vincent isn't certain what his father's motive is but he can't forgive and forget his childhood easily. When Jane accidentally overhears bits of conversations, she realizes that something dangerous is about to happen. Jane and Vincent risk their lives for England once again.

This is another thrilling adventure following Glamour in Glass. The author balances the magic, the history and the relationships nicely. I liked learning more about glamour, what it can do, who uses it and why. I knew about the volcano in Indonesia that exploded and caused a giant ash cloud that created freezing temperatures across the northern hemisphere, but the popular explanation as it appears in the novel is very creative. It makes sense from a historical perspective. Amateur historians will also like learning about the impact of the Industrial Revolution on Britain. Again, I liked the magical twist in this story. The plot kept me reading far too late in the night. I finally had to put it down but it was hard. By the time I got to the last third of the novel, I was gripping the book tensely, wondering how it would turn out. I liked how the adventure was woven into the glamour and relationship plot and not the other way around. The plot works as a stand-alone book for those who may not have read the first two, but I highly suggest that readers read the books in order. Most of all, I loved the characters. Jane and Vincent have such a wonderful relationship. They are so comfortable with each other and so caring. I think the portrayal of their marriage with it's ups and downs is very realistic, though I have never been married. Jane overreacted to something from Vincent's past and I was surprised that she cared so much. I'm not sure I would have been so upset in that time period, but of course now, I would be angry too. I also like the sibling rivalry between Melody and Jane. They just don't understand each other no matter how hard they try. Melody really develops as a character in this novel. I didn't exactly like Jane in this book. She jumps to a lot of conclusions without checking her facts. She's modeled after Jane Austen's Emma, a character not many people like. I just didn't feel that it was very much like the intelligent Jane we had met before. The relationship between Vincent and his family is something new. We've had hints in the past two novels about his previous life but this time he comes face to face with his past. It's a dark subplot and difficult to read. I'm not entirely positive the attitudes towards masculinity are accurate for this early in the 19th century. That part of the plot would make more sense for the Victorian era. That was my only nitpick about the plot. The cover, while beautiful, just doesn't portray the characters. Is that supposed to be a glammed up younger Jane and Vincent or Melody and who? I highly recommend this series to Traditional Regency lovers ages 16+.

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