Thursday, May 5, 2016

Book Review: Of Noble Family by Mary Robinette Kowal

Of Noble Family
Author: Mary Robinette Kowal
Series: Glamourist Histories (Book 5)
Publication: Tor Books (April 28, 2015)

Description: Jane and Vincent have finally gotten some much-needed rest after their adventures in Italy when Vincent receives word that his estranged father has passed away on one of his properties in the West Indies. His brother, who manages the estate, is overwhelmed, and no one else in his family can go. Grudgingly, out of filial duty the couple decide to go.

The sea voyage is long and Jane spends enough time unable to perform glamour that towards the end of the trip she discovers that she is with child. They are overjoyed, but when they finally arrive at the estate to complete what they expect to be routine legal tasks, they realize that nearly everything they came expecting to find had been a lie. Also, the entire estate is in disarray, with horrifying conditions and tensions with the local slave population so high that they are close to revolt.

Jane and Vincent's sense of peril is screaming out for them to flee, but Vincent cannot stand to leave an estate connected with his family in such a condition. They have survived many grand and terrifying adventures in their time, but this one will test their skills and wits more than any they have ever encountered before, this time with a new life hanging in the balance. Mary Robinette Kowal's Of Noble Family is the final book of the acclaimed Glamourist Histories.

My Thoughts: This final volume in the Glamourist Histories sees Jane and Vincent travel to Antigua to settle his father's estate. Upon arrival they learn that Lord Verbery is not dead though he did suffer a stroke. He is in hiding to avoid being arrested. He has support from a number of people who are keeping him hidden. He is also not above the use of blackmail and other threats.

Jane and Vincent first want to leave immediately but Jane is pregnant and not doing well. It doesn't help that Verbery's doctor almost bleeds her to death as a way of keeping her on the island. Meanwhile, they are also dealing with an overseer who is unnecessarily brutal to the slaves and who has Lord Verbery's blessing for his actions. They are also surprised that the man in charge of the household is Lord Verbery's natural son who is being forced to do what the Earl demands because of threats to sell the rest of his family away.

While Jane is not able to do glamour while being pregnant, she spends a lot of time of the slaves who have their own forms of glamour. Jane is determined to write a book about the different traditions of glamour. She gets to learn a lot about the lives of slaves on the plantation as she meets with a number who can do glamour. She also calls on their help when she and Vincent are commissioned to create the glamour to decorate the ballroom for an annual charity ball.

I loved the relationship between Jane and Vincent. He has such a hard time because knowing that his father is alive and being forced to spend time with him brings back so many of the memories of the abuse he suffered at his father's hands as a boy. It also raises his fear that he is too like his father to be a good father to his child.

This story had a huge amount  of intensity both because of the setting and because of the threats to Jane's life and health. I couldn't put it down.

Favorite Quote:
She sighed to cover her agitation. "You are insufferable."

"I prefer 'inscrutable.'" He smiles, softening a little at her teasing tone, and because she allowed the change of topic.

"Inexplicable would be more accurate."


She rested her hand on her ever-increasing stomach. "Not any more."

He laughed and kissed her on the forehead. "I do not think that word means what you think it means."
I bought this one. You can buy your copy here.

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