Paging Jane Austen enthusiasts! Paging Jane Austen enthusiasts! Here’s an enjoyable and delightful read that merges Austen’s Regency-era novel of manners with fantasy and science fiction. It’s delightful and entertaining and innovative at once. My sister recommended this book to me–and since I recommend so many books to her, it seemed only fair to read one of her choices. So glad that I did!
Jane Ellsworth is a single woman in her late twenties, part of a respectable family and a skilled glamourist. While her sister Melody is known for her great beauty, she is known for her intelligence and glamour abilities (loosely defined in the book as working folds of energy to create illusions, beauty, and great artistic simulacra). She meets the great glamourist, Mr. Vincent, just as Melody is trying to finagle a match for herself, and that’s where the novel takes off. Jane must keep secrets for other young women of her acquaintance, uphold her family’s honor, and learn to move her art beyond technique to passion in order to become the heroine of this tale.
Kowal’s writing voice is deliciously droll and relies on several Austen-like phrases (“la!” is just one delightful example) to recreate a Regency-era fantasy text. This text is written in the vein of Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, another Regency-like favorite, and it works just as well.
If you like Jane Austen, read it. If you like Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, read it. If you like historical fantasy, read it. Seriously, it’s quite a delight.