Posts Tagged ‘Shades of Milk and Honey’

Arranging the seating (plus Chapter 13 is posted)

Whee! Chapter 13 is posted of the Without a Summer draft.

I spent most of my writing time today not actually writing. The scene I was writing involved a dinner which in turn involved me realizing that I could not write it until I had done a seating chart so that I knew where people were sitting and what the order of precedence was in going in to dinner. I wound up needing to elevate one gentleman from a Viscount to a Marquess in order to place him where I needed him at the table. It was significantly more complicated that I would have liked.

In fact, I had to do this in Shades of Milk and Honey as well for the dinner party at Lady FitzCameron’s.

You’ll note that there are a number of characters, like Sir Harrison, who don’t appear in the book. That’s because I needed some people just to pad out the table in order to get my principals in the right place. Sir Harrison, for instance, is a Baronet and can push Mr. Dunkirk down the ranking so that he sits next to Jane Ellsworth. It was unexpectedly complicated.

One of my primary resources for this is Laura A. Wallace’s excellent pages on English peerage and precedence. If you are writing anything set in the Regency I highly recommend these with the caveat that you have to actually read the entire site before deploying the information in there. She’s thorough, but things are tricksy. Yes, they are.

Captain Livingston has Beowulf’d and Chaucer’d “Shades of Milk and Honey”

My friend and Medieval scholar, Michael Livingston — for whom I named Captain Livingston — has written a post about the language in Shades of Milk and Honey. In it, he translates a few lines of the novel into  Old English and Middle English

Anyway, at one point Mary and I were talking about voicing and language patterns, and I told her (not for the first time) that I loved how she’d worked so hard to maintain the “Austen voice.” She thanked me, smiled, then mentioned that more than one reader has complained about how she wrote “Old English.”

We found this no end of amusing. Jane Austen, you see, wrote in the early 19th-century, and people stopped writing Old English around the 12th. The reader’s accusation was thus twice-wrong: (1) I think Mary does an excellent job within the linguistic constraints she set upon herself; and (2) Austen-speak is some 6 or 7 centuries away from Old English. Austen doesn’t sound a whit like Old English. For that matter, Austen doesn’t even sound like Middle English, which predates her by only a few centuries.

To illustrate, let’s look at a couple lines from Mary’s novel and see what they might look like in previous dialects.

Go read the full post, with his notes about what words he chose and why at: Kowal Beowulf’d and Chaucer’d: Shades of Milk and Honey « Michael Livingston. It is fascinating.

Salt Lake County Library Reader’s Choice Nominee: SHADES OF MILK AND HONEY

I got a lovely email today, letting me know that Shades of Milk and Honey is a SLC Reader’s Choice nominee.  You all know how much I adore libraries, so to be on this list is a real honor.

The Salt Lake County Library System is the largest in Utah, serving over 650,000 residents, through 18 libraries.  Twice a year, the Reader’s Choice Committee selects twenty or more recently published books that have been recommended by other staff or customers.  We want to include those titles that are not a “best-sellers” but are so good you just can’t put them down — and when you do finish, you have to tell all your friends!  These books are purchased in multiples and placed on display at each Salt Lake County Library for a four-month period.  After reading any of the books on our Reader’s Choice list, customers may rate the books using one of our ballot forms.

Twenty-nine titles have been chosen for the voting period.  The title receiving the most #1 votes from our customers by November 1, 2011 will be declared the winner.

You can see the full list at or jump straight to Shades of Milk and Honey.

Glamorous Jane | Books | Portland Mercury

Yay! Our hometime independent paper, The Portland Mercury not only reviewed Shades of Milk and Honey but also liked it!

Wish Jane Austen’s subtle novels had a little more action, but fewer zombies? Well, Portlander Mary Robinette Kowal’s debut novel Shades of Milk and Honey is your new manna. In this age of Regency spinning, it’s apparent Austen’s books make a well-stretched canvas for fantasy and sci-fi authors to paint upon. Kowal’s novel is a shining example of how to seamlessly blend magic with empire-waisted romance.

You can read the rest of the review at Glamorous Jane | Books | Portland Mercury.

Shades of Milk and Honey is a 2011 Locus Award Finalists

Hurrah! Shades of Milk and Honey is one of the five finalists for the award for Best First Novel given by Locus.  I’m also happy to see so many books on there that I loved.  Yay!

  • The Loving Dead, Amelia Beamer (Night Shade)
  • The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, N.K. Jemisin (Orbit UK; Orbit US)
  • Shades of Milk and Honey, Mary Robinette Kowal (Tor)
  • The Quantum Thief, Hannu Rajaniemi (Gollancz; Tor)
  • How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe, Charles Yu (Pantheon)

Since these are voted on by the you guys, I want to thank you very, very, much for putting Shades of Milk and Honey on the list., I You can read the full list at Locus Online News » 2011 Locus Award Finalists.

If you haven’t been to the Locus Awards, I recommend attending. It was a lot of fun last year and the Hawaiian shirt competition is a hoot and a half. Tickets are still available.

The Antick Musings of G.B.H. Hornswoggler, Gent. reviews Shades of Milk and Honey

It is so very, very gratifying when someone gets what I was trying to do with the Austeninan aspect of Shades of Milk and Honey.

Jane Austen famously described her novels — in a description subsequently often quoted to denigrate her work and that of other female writers, either overtly or through a backhanded head-pat — as “The little bit (two inches wide) of ivory on which I work with so fine a brush as produces little effect after much labour.” Mary Robinette Kowal’s first novel, Shades of Milk and Honey, is deeply in that Austenian tradition, and will certainly garner a few head-pats of its own, from the clueless and the sensation-addicted. But writing a novel this quiet, this domestic and constrained and pure, in the early 21st century — not to mention doing it in a genre as entirely built on external action and what teenage boys call “adventure” as fantasy — is surely one of the most radical things that any writer could hope to do, a perfectly shaped and wielded knitting needle thrust, with all the best taste and tact possible, right into the Achilles heel of the genre.

Read the full and very kind review at The Antick Musings of G.B.H. Hornswoggler, Gent.: Shades of Milk and Honey by Mary Robinette Kowal.

Giveaway: Shades of Milk and Honey at The Ranting Dragon

Between now and March 9th you can enter to win one of three copies of Shades of Milk and Honey as part of their Locus Challenge.

As part of our Locus Challenge, we are hosting a giveaway for three copies of Shades of Milk and Honey by Mary Robinette Kowal to three lucky readers in the United States or Canada, thanks to the generosity of Tor Books. Shades of Milk and Honey by Mary Robinette Kowal is on the Locus recommended reading list as one of the best first novels of the year 2010.

You can read the full details at Giveaway: Shades of Milk and Honey by Mary Robinette Kowal (U.S. & Can.) | The Ranting Dragon.

Listen to me on KBOO’s Between the Covers

Yesterday I went down to KBOO to talk to Marianne Barisonek her show “Between the Covers.”  Marianne was a delightful host and had clearly done her reading before I came in.

I have a soft spot for KBOO because Willamette Radio Workshop has performed some audio theater there. It’s a great place to scream.

Not that I did any screaming during the interview.  You can listen to a recording of me talking about Shades of Milk and Honey at KBOO Community Radio.

I’ll be on “Between the Covers” on KBOO

Tomorrow I’ll be on Between the Covers at KBOO, local independent radio, here in Portland from 11:00-11:30am.  If you aren’t in the Portland listening area, you can tune in to KBOO via streaming on the web.

Host Marianne Barisonek speaks with Mary Robinette Kowal the author of Shades of Milk and Honey, an intimate portrait of Jane Ellsworth, a woman ahead of her time in a version of Regency England where the manipulation of glamour is considered an essential skill for a lady of quality.

via Between the Covers on 02/10/11 | KBOO Community Radio.

Happy Christmas from the Ellsworths

This entry is part 1 of 2 in the series Glamourist History stories

As a Christmas present, I’d like to give you a short story which takes place between the end of Shades of Milk and Honey and the beginning of Glamour in Glass. Unavoidably, it contains a spoiler so I’ve hidden the story below.

Please enjoy: Christmastide with the Ellsworths SelectShow

San Francisco Chronicle’s best science fiction and fantasy books of 2010

The San Francisco Chronicle just posted their list of the Best science fiction and fantasy books of 2010.  Shades of Milk and Honey is on there!

Kowal presents a tale of romance in Regency England with just a sprinkling of fantasy. Able to pull “glamour” out of the ether and create intricate tableaux that trick the eye and delight the mind, Jane Ellsworth yearns for true love but believes herself to be too old and too plain to catch any bachelor’s eye. This low-key novel succeeds through understated humor and sprightly prose, rather than through absurd juxtapositions of the historical and the supernatural.

via Best science fiction and fantasy books of 2010.