Glamour in Glass

Mary Robinette Kowal
Glamour in Glass Cover

Glamour in Glass


Though I have a bunch of other stuff I "should" be reading, I checked out the ebook of Mary Robinette Kowal's Glamour in Glass, the sequel to Shades of Milk and Honey.

Glamour in Glass has a little bit more social heft to it than the first, I think—Jane and Vincent go on a trip to the Continent, where Jane observes many differences in the societal rules governing French women versus English women. There is also some stuff about war and politics and Napoleon, and, my favorite of all military-related endeavors, espionage. The title plotline involves a new development in "recording" glamour that Jane and Vincent are trying to perfect; while this development turns out to be quite useful in its part in the main plot of saving that which needs saving, it's mostly a device through which we explore the emotional core of the book, which is Vincent and Jane adjusting to working as at team.

A huge thread in the book's core plotline, however, concerns pregnancy—and it's one of the best-done pregnancy plotlines I've read in ages, actually. The main conceit here is that it's dangerous to do glamour while one is pregnant, so Jane has to give it up for a couple of months until after her confinement. Since so much of Jane's identity is wrapped up in being a good glamourist—and now that her job is actually to be a professional glamourist along with her glamourist husband—Jane finds herself struggling with feelings of inadequacy, uselessness, restriction, etc., and wondering if Vincent really still loves her, particularly as Vincent seems to be having some difficulties adjusting to working as a team and also might be hiding something from her. A decent chunk of the book is Jane and Vincent working through their insecurities and trust issues; the rest is stuff like cross-dressing and throwing shoes at people. It's an inordinate amount of fun for a pregnancy book, actually! I also found myself not minding as much that this clearly just isn't going to be a comic series—it has its moments, but it's not the genre—since it seems to be developing more away from trying to be Jane Austen plus magic, and more into being its own thing. As much as I enjoyed the first one, I really think this one is a lot stronger, and it has me much more inclined to keep reading out of actual enjoyment rather than "my brain is dead and I need something that won't tax it"-ness or "I heard the fourth one has pirates and I want to get to the pirates"-osity. It's still a fast, light read, though, although the Thing that happened right at the end was quite unexpected for this sort of story—I feel like it's something that's not usually done because structurally it's hard not to have it come off as a fakeout but here I think it actually really worked.

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