Book Review: Glamour in Glass
On a dreary afternoon I hurried through the downpour three blocks from Second City Training Center where I had just gotten out of my improv class to a small cafe off the Sedgwick shop called Eva’s Cafe. Because of the downpour people were crammed into every crook and nanny with billowy coats oozing into pathways and computers made a constant hum of white noise. I wound my way over a couple of fallen-over book bags to the counter where I ordered hot tea, I was warned it was probably too hot and I might like some ice cubes. I declined, stating I would rather let the tea cool on its own as it seeped for the requisite three minutes. I walked the short distance to a corner table where Mary Robinette Kowal was sitting with her own steaming mug and pastry. Handing over a signed copy of Glamour in Glass, she explained that she was giving me the trade paperback version because the hardcover printed edition had left out some of her words.
I put the book into my purse and we had a lovely conversation about Kowal’s puppeteer work, my improv classes, and voice over acting. Several hours later I finally left the cafe and while I wanted to read my new book, I already had too many books already piled up at home in my tbr pile. But a few weeks later, after sloughing through some not-for-me books and one truly poorly written novel, I felt it was time to seek out some authors whose prose I liked and so I downloaded Neverwhere from my library to listen to as I walked about town and picked up Glamour in Glass to read during my lunch breaks at work.
One can never truly appreciate good writing unless one has just read some really poor writing. My brain sighed in relief at the first words spoken by Neil Gaiman and the first sentences written by Mary Robinette Kowal. I had some trepidation in picking up the second novel in her Glamourist Histories series because, while finding her prose delightful, I had take umbrage with a few subplots in the first book of the series. However, I flew through Glamour in Glass with chuckles and merriment.
Glamour in Glass continues following the lives of beloved main characters Jane and Vincent, with a much deeper vein of drama and intrigue. In the tumultuous months after Napoleon abdicates his throne, Jane and Vincent go to Belgium for their honeymoon. While there, the deposed emperor escapes his exile in Elba, throwing the continent into turmoil. With no easy way back to England, Jane and Vincent’s concerns turn from enjoying their honeymoon…to escaping it. Left with no outward salvation, Jane must persevere over her trying personal circumstances and use her glamour to rescue her husband from prison . . . and hopefully prevent her newly built marriage from getting stranded on the shoals of another country’s war. – Synopsis from Goodreads
I liked the intrigue and drama turn that this series takes in Glamour in Glass. I love when authors write about other countries and the character’s exploration of a different way of life. I live vicariously through the adventures of my book friends and when they get to travel I get to do so as well. It’s obvious from speaking with Kowal that she researches extensively and is fascinated by with her subject, that fascination shines through her story telling and I loved reading about Belgium, Napoleon, and the societal differences that Jane encounters in her travel to another country.
Jane and Vincent marry rather readily in the first book with very little knowledge of each other, something I was not a fan of, and now months into their marriage that lack of knowledge means they must learn how to communicate with one another. And it is not an easy thing for them to learn. For which I was thankful. Not because I’m some sort of jaded scandalous old maid, which I am, but because I don’t see a lot of books where the couple actually works on their marriage. And relationships are work. Insta Love and TRUE LOVE make for compelling YA books (because they are YA and we expect that from them), but this Regency Romance fiction of Kowal’s has the leeway to do something different and I like that she does. There was one scene where I was really annoyed with Jane and how she was handling expressing herself, and then I realized I was really annoyed with her because I do that exact same thing. Vincent is rather taciturn and withholds a lot from Jane which annoyed me to no end, mostly because Jane feels like one of my best girlfriends and I’m always on the side of my girlfriends if a boy is being mean to them. When Vincent decided maybe he should actually talk to Jane about things I said with a huff, out loud, to the book, “Finally!” (This is not unusual, I talk to inanimate objects and give Redbox a personality.)
I quite knew how it was all going to end. I’m a little frustrated with my father for that. Not only does he keep wanting me to have babies, but he has passed down the gene of guessing an ending at the beginning and being right. Maybe I should have been a little bit more invested in the emotions of the character when the “twist” appeared, but I knew it was coming. Plus, there was that moment where I said, OK this could happen and if it does I’m going to be upset because I really dislike when the something that can save people becomes unavailable in books. It still happened, and I was like, GAH!
On the other hand, this plot device added to the sense of adventure in Glamour in Glass, and Jane and Vincent’s adventures are what make this book so likable. I like that Jane and Vincent leave the English countryside and everything gets really exciting. There are duels, glamour classes, life discoveries, and fighting to survive. So much fun!
Glamour in Glass is a book of adventure in life as Jane and Vincent honeymoon in Belgium during a tumultuous time in history, but it is also an adventure in love as Jane and her husband seek to find a way to communicate better and learn more about each other. A sweet romance set in a fun magical universe where Glamour is a topic of daily conversations and political uprisings cause intrigue, Glamour in Glass will leave you smiling at Jane’s antics and waiting eagerly to read the next book in the series.