Glamour in Glass by Mary Robinette Kowal


“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.”

Don’t you just love it when a series just gets better?

So first of all, I should explain that this is book two of Mary Robinette Kowal’s Glamourist Histories series. Book one is titled Shades of Milk and Honey and introduced its reader to a Jane Austenesque tale of Jane Ellsworth, a English woman, the eldest daughter, single (and resigned to being single for she is {horrors!} the ancient age of 28 – it is a version of Regency England after all), and a practitioner of glamour, a kind of magic, sort of like painting with magic, that is considered essential for a lady of quality. There will be some spoilers in this review if you have not read the first book, so please, read no further until you read Shades of Milk and Honey!




Shades of Milk and Honey.

Then read Glamour in Glass.

With Glamour in Glass, Kowal’s magical Regency world comes into its own. Jane is a newlywed and finds herself heading to Brussels in the months after Napoleon abdicates his throne. While there, the deposed emperor escapes his exile, and things get a little hairy for both Jane and Vincent.

Moving Jane and Vincent away from her family and into Brussels was a smart move. While I enjoyed the Regency setting of Shades of Milk and Honey, I couldn’t help unconsciously having Jane Austen’s work in my mind, especially Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility, as I read the book.

In Glamour in Glass, Jane is beginning to figure out her place in this new world (as a couple, and in continental Europe, where things are done far differently from conservative England). She is a wonderful character, noble, headstrong and devoted to the loves of her life – her husband and her glamour. She is kind of traditional, being a little shocked, for instance, when the ladies stay at the dinner table for the conversation, liquor and cigars, instead of retreating as they do in England.

It is perhaps a little less Austen-like than the first book, and I think that might be why I enjoyed it more. There’s more at stake here, with Napoleon and coded messages and some warmongering. Jane makes some daring moves for a woman of her time.

Kowal is such a treat to read! I’m looking forward to the third book in the series, Without A Summer.

Hugo-award winning author, Mary Robinette Kowal is a novelist and professional puppeteer. Her debut novel Shades of Milk and Honey (Tor 2010) was nominated for the 2010 Nebula Award for Best Novel. In 2008 she won the Campbell Award for Best New Writer, while three of her short fiction works have been nominated for the Hugo Award: “Evil Robot Monkey” in 2009 and “For Want of a Nail” in 2011, which won the Hugo for short story that year. Her stories have appeared in Strange Horizons, Asimov’s, and several Year’s Best anthologies, as well as in her collection Scenting the Dark and Other Stories from Subterranean Press.

Kowal is also an award-winning puppeteer. With over twenty years of experience, she has performed for LazyTown (CBS), the Center for Puppetry Arts, Jim Henson Pictures and founded Other Hand Productions. Her designs have garnered two UNIMA-USA Citations of Excellence, the highest award an American puppeteer can achieve.

When she isn’t writing or puppeteering, Kowal brings her speech and theater background to her work as a voice actor. As the voice behind several audio books and short stories, she has recorded fiction for authors such as Kage Baker, Cory Doctorow and John Scalzi.

Mary lives in Chicago with her husband Rob and over a dozen manual typewriters. Sometimes she even writes on them.


Shades of Milk and Honey
Glamour in Glass
Without a Summer

Scenting the Dark and Other Stories