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The final book of the acclaimed Glamourist Histories is the magical adventure that might result if Jane Austen walked on the darker side of the Regency... 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 The final book of the acclaimed Glamourist Histories is the magical adventure that might result if Jane Austen walked on the darker side of the Regency... 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.


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The final book of the acclaimed Glamourist Histories is the magical adventure that might result if Jane Austen walked on the darker side of the Regency... 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 The final book of the acclaimed Glamourist Histories is the magical adventure that might result if Jane Austen walked on the darker side of the Regency... 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.

30 review for Of Noble Family

  1. 5 out of 5

    Bradley

    This was a fairly satisfying conclusion to the Regency Romance Magical series by Kowal. It wraps up the series with a birth. It's the logical focus after what happened earlier in the series and the tragedy of losing a child while on the run and using glamour. Everyone knows that Glamour can make an expectant mother to lose their child, after all. It had nothing to do with being chased by Napoleon. *looks askance* The other nice part of this novel was the plot of Vincent's father's death and the d This was a fairly satisfying conclusion to the Regency Romance Magical series by Kowal. It wraps up the series with a birth. It's the logical focus after what happened earlier in the series and the tragedy of losing a child while on the run and using glamour. Everyone knows that Glamour can make an expectant mother to lose their child, after all. It had nothing to do with being chased by Napoleon. *looks askance* The other nice part of this novel was the plot of Vincent's father's death and the death of Vincent's older brother and the inheritance of a slave plantation. It's nothing he ever wanted and his relationship with his family had always been extremely poor, but even that gets resolved well here. I have to say that even though the subject of slavery and interbreeding to control a whole people and the horrible conditions makes me think the book should be darker than it is... but no, the book is still rather lightweight. That's fine because it's the tone throughout the series regardless of the events. It's a romance, after all. Bad things happen, the good people come out on top. Our hero and heroine are both remarkably steadfast and capable even though I'm meant to believe that they're either ill or incapable or at other times as traitors or being poverty-stricken. It still feels like light fare. Not that it's a bad thing, of course, but I tend to categorize such novels as popcorn. :) I'm glad I got to read the whole thing. I'm looking forward to reading completely different styles from Kowal!

  2. 4 out of 5

    Sunil

    After several magical adventures in Europe, accomplished glamourists Jane and Vincent are ready for some downtime, but then Vincent receives some unexpected news: his father has passed away, and his brother needs him to take care of the estate. Come out to Antigua, they said. You'll sign a few papers and go home, they said. Things turns out to be much more complicated than that. Vincent's relationship with his abusive father has always been fraught, and soon after arriving in Antigua, he finds him After several magical adventures in Europe, accomplished glamourists Jane and Vincent are ready for some downtime, but then Vincent receives some unexpected news: his father has passed away, and his brother needs him to take care of the estate. Come out to Antigua, they said. You'll sign a few papers and go home, they said. Things turns out to be much more complicated than that. Vincent's relationship with his abusive father has always been fraught, and soon after arriving in Antigua, he finds himself struggling with his own character, the proximity to his father—even in death—distressing him greatly. Jane is sick on the voyage over and needs some time to recover. And both of these abolition-loving Europeans find themselves quite taken aback by the deplorable treatment of the slaves on the Hamilton plantation. I've heard Mary Robinette Kowal speak about the research she did on this book many times, and the great care she took in her portrayal of people of color, and it shows. The black characters are named, developed characters, and they're diverse in origin (coming from different parts of Africa) and skin color. There is, of course, a danger that the story could fall into a White Saviour narrative, with Jane and Vincent, kindly white people, coming in and freeing all the slaves, but while there is a superficial element of it in the fact that they do confront the monstrous overseer, Mr. Pridmore, a few times, the slaves themselves have some agency and make their own choices when they can. They explain when they do and don't need Jane and Vincent's help. But this book isn't actually about Jane and Vincent coming down to a plantation and freeing slaves anyway! I can't really describe what it is about, though. They want nothing more than to leave that damn place, and it's almost comical how many different ways Kowal contrives to keep them from leaving; most of the reasons are valid (and for all I know she researched actual ship schedules and Jane and Vincent just got screwed) but I still found it amusing. So they're forced to stay there and be uncomfortable. Luckily, Jane befriends an Igbo glamourist named Nkiruka who opens her mind to a whole new way of glamour: Nkiruka conceives of it differently and can do things that baffle Jane. She's a wonderful character and I'd love to see more of her. Meanwhile, Vincent discovers things are kind of fishy and begins an investigation. Here's the thing: I could read hundreds of pages of Jane and Vincent just being Jane and Vincent. Over the course of the series, they've become one of my favorite fictional couples. Jane has become so much stronger and more scientifically oriented. Vincent has become a much deeper, more conflicted, interesting person. I love how much they love each other, how honest and open they are with each other, how much they respect and admire each other. So the fact that anything actually happens around them is ancillary to my enjoyment; the fact that occasionally what happens surprises the hell out of me is a bonus. There is danger, there is excitement, there are severed limbs. Jane is incredible, Vincent is angsty, they are both amazing. So much happens in this book, but it's not a straightforward "Characters all work toward a goal" narrative, and that's fine: Jane and Vincent are Jane and Vincent and they do stuff with heaps of new characters I enjoyed. Of Noble Family closes this chapter in their lives. They have earned a respite.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Jaylia3

    I am going to miss Jane and Vincent. Of Noble Family is the married couple’s fifth and final adventure in Mary Robinette Kowal’s Glamourist History series set in an alternate Regency Britain enhanced by glamour, the loveliest system of magic I’ve encountered. But while their glamoured displays are often breathtaking, Jane and Vincent have taken ether-based illusions far beyond the ubiquitous drawing room decorations created by accomplished young women. In previous books they’ve found practical, I am going to miss Jane and Vincent. Of Noble Family is the married couple’s fifth and final adventure in Mary Robinette Kowal’s Glamourist History series set in an alternate Regency Britain enhanced by glamour, the loveliest system of magic I’ve encountered. But while their glamoured displays are often breathtaking, Jane and Vincent have taken ether-based illusions far beyond the ubiquitous drawing room decorations created by accomplished young women. In previous books they’ve found practical, if hair-raising, applications for glamour in the war against Napoleon, the Luddite riots, and an escapade involving pirates on the Mediterranean. For this last story the couple will be off to the Caribbean. When the book opens, Jane and Vincent have been resting after their harrowing exploits on the Italian Island of Murano and enjoying the company of Jane’s family, especially her sister Melody’s new baby boy, who is already showing a precocious ability to see inside glamoured images. But things don’t stay relaxing for long. Vincent receives a letter from his brother Richard that turns their world upside down. The first shocking piece of news is that Vincent’s father has died of a stroke at the family estate on the Caribbean island of Antigua. Lord Verbury fled to the island in an earlier book to avoid being imprisoned for treason. Since Vincent was badly abused by his father while growing up, the death wasn’t as upsetting to him as it might be, but the bad news didn’t end there. Upon their father’s death, Vincent’s oldest brother Garland inherited the title Lord Verbury, bought himself a new barouche-landau, and then died when the vehicle overturned on the badly maintained road leading to Lyme Regis. Vincent’s middle brother, Richard, was severely injured in the accident, losing one of his feet. In his letter Richard asks Vincent for a very large favor. Apparently their father’s most recent will is in Antigua, and it will only be released to one of the sons. Richard’s injuries make it impossible for him to travel right now, so he’s asking Vincent to make the journey and straighten out any problems on the estate that need attention. Jane is completely against it. Why should Vincent go? She’s seen how poisonous anything to do with his father is for Vincent, and Vincent has already disassociated himself from his family by changing his last name. But Richard has always been kind to Vincent and was just as badly treated by their father himself. Plus, being professional glamourists Jane and Vincent have no possibility of work in Britain for the time being anyway. Beloved Princess Charlotte, daughter of George IV, recently died in childbirth so the country is in mourning for a year and all glamour has been stripped from homes and public places. For these reasons, Vincent decides to help Richard by traveling to Antigua, and Jane of course goes with him, but nothing turns out as they expected. The boat journey across the Atlantic is much more difficult than any water trip they’ve made before, and once they reach the island they discover they’ve been lied to as shocking family secrets begin to come to light. Of Noble Family is a heart-racingly superb conclusion to the series and includes all the charms I’ve come to expect from Kowal. I love that the books don't shy away from charged historical issues--here Jane and Vincent are confronting slavery, and grappling with their own prejudices and well-meaning but sometimes short sighted feelings about it--and I love that the stories aren’t set only generally during the Regency period--all the stories take place at specific times, this one during the mourning period for Princess Charlotte. It continues to be a pleasure to see what happens after an Austen-like happy ending marriage. Jane and Vincent have a strong relationship but it’s not effortlessly wonderful and they have to work at it. Also, Of Noble Family is a richer story than it might have been in other hands because Jane and Vincent aren’t its only heroes. The enslaved characters practice their own forms of glamour, and act with agency, resource, and intelligence. My only complaint is the one you’d expect--I wish there was going to be another book. But Kowal wraps everything up in a moving and satisfying way, and there is at least one more thing to look forward to. Kowal always narrates the audio versions of her books, but since Of Noble Family has characters with Caribbean accents this time she has the help of two other readers. I’ve listened to a sample and it’s wonderful, especially Prentice Onayemi’s deep, Mr. Darcy-like interpretation of Vincent’s voice. I’m going to enjoy revisiting the story in audio form. I read an advanced review copy of this book provided to me at no cost by the publisher. Review opinions are mine. Originally posted on the Austenprose website.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Lisa Wolf

    A fabulous end to a favorite series!

  5. 4 out of 5

    colleen the convivial curmudgeon

    3.5 I always think of these books are being fairly light. This is probably because the first book set that sort of tone - but things have gotten pretty dark for Jane and Vincent since then, dealing with both personal and social issues of all shapes and sizes, and this book continues on that theme. Vincent receives word of his father's and brother's deaths, and is asked by another brother to go to Antigua to help settle the estate by getting a copy of his father's last will - which will only be rel 3.5 I always think of these books are being fairly light. This is probably because the first book set that sort of tone - but things have gotten pretty dark for Jane and Vincent since then, dealing with both personal and social issues of all shapes and sizes, and this book continues on that theme. Vincent receives word of his father's and brother's deaths, and is asked by another brother to go to Antigua to help settle the estate by getting a copy of his father's last will - which will only be released to a son. Since the new Early Verbury was himself injured in an accident, he can't go so he asks Vincent, who agrees to go despite his tumultuous history with his family. When there, Jane and Vincent are confronted with the realities of slavery, and abusive and corrupt estate manager, Jane's delicate health and even more than they could've ever imagined or prepared for. I felt like the book handled the slavery issue well. The various characters representing the different "levels" of slavery weren't tokens - they were developed characters in their own right. Nkiruka is my favorite new character, followed by Frank. One thing Jane learns is that the art of glamour is approached differently in Antigua than she has become acustomed to, and different tribes have different methods. It's not quite so codified and set in stone as Jane's upbringing lead her to believe, and she explores this with the help - and eventual friendship - of Nkiruka. I found myself wishing that we were more privvy to some of the details, though, of the different methods, since I felt like we only really got a very superficial view of it. Of course, despite what gets thrown at our couple, the story revolves around their bond to each other, and how they weather the many storms. (Though I must admit I kept wondering why (view spoiler)[Jane never seemed to write to her family, though I suppose since they were essentially being kept prisoner that it likely wouldn't have gotten through anyway. And Jane wouldn't have wanted them to worry without recourse to action. (hide spoiler)] ). I had commented to my husband recently that you don't see many stories which show healthy and stable marriages. Most romance stories seem to culminate in the couple getting together, and most married couples are relegated to sit-coms and the like which only poke fun at the travails couples go through in very stereotypical fashion. So it was nice to watch Vincent and Jane grow as a married couple in this series, to weather the various things thrown at them, and to see their bond sometimes waver, but also strengthen. To see them learn to trust each other ever more and more, though to still have their defined personalities and occassional need for solitude and the like. And despite the issues - both internal and external - Kowal still tells the story with a light hand, getting her views across without brow-beating or 'being preachy'. (Reading a bit of her comments, I appreciate that she had experts help her with dialect and understanding the different modes of speech and realizing that language and culture are connection, and not just trying to mimic a language for affect without trying to understand the deeper cultural understandings.) *** Anyway - This isn't my favorite of the series, but it ended in a way while I can accept as a solid conclusion to the series. (Though with the hope that Kowal may not truly be entirely finished with this world and these people that I've come to enjoy spending time with. *** ETA: BTW, the Princess Bride reference? Yeah, I caught it. ;)

  6. 5 out of 5

    Kaitlin

    This book was the end of the series and I am pretty sad it's over becuase this one explored so many great themes. In this story we're following Jane and Vincent as they travel to the West Indies and over to Antigua. There they find a secret that has been buried deep, and a very different way of life to their own. What I most enjoyed about this one, besides seeing the two characters again as they are pretty great in their own right, was the discussion of slavery and ownership. This book is set in This book was the end of the series and I am pretty sad it's over becuase this one explored so many great themes. In this story we're following Jane and Vincent as they travel to the West Indies and over to Antigua. There they find a secret that has been buried deep, and a very different way of life to their own. What I most enjoyed about this one, besides seeing the two characters again as they are pretty great in their own right, was the discussion of slavery and ownership. This book is set in the time where slavery was just starting to be abolished in England, but had not yet been abolished in English-owned places like Antigua, rather these were largely dominated by whites owning the black population as slaves. Seeing Jane come face to face with many of the issues of slavery made me think a lot deeper about the situation of the day. Although this is a fantasy and doesn't fully represent the actual conditions of slaves of the time, I do think that this book did a good job of presenting some of the issues and showing how some of the slaves may have lived. When Jane (a privileged white woman) went over to Antigua, I imagine her experience would have been quite similar to what we see, and I am very glad that Jane and Vincent are both pitched as 'reformists' who want things to change and be much better once they arrive. Another thing I found really good was the story itself. There were lots of plot-twists in the story that kept me guessing. I definitely felt like there were times where I could predict things, but there were also some good surprises for the characters and I. Frank and Louisa made for some interesting additions to the storyline, and they gave a perspective we've not yet seen which I very much enjoyed. Their lifestyle was at times, so foreign, that it meant being able to hear from them was valuable for the characters to fix issues and learn from prior mistakes. Overall, this is a solidly fun book and a good end to the series. 4*s from me :)

  7. 5 out of 5

    Sanaa

    [3.5 Stars] A very neat conclusion to the series. I continue to love how this series explores a relationship beyond marriage and all the trials and tribulations that come with life as a couple. I wish there had been more glamour in this one, but for obvious reasons there couldn't be more. Kowal handles delicate topics fairly well for the most part in this book. Not perfectly, but well. I will say though that I wish this had been less about Vincent and more about Jane. I think that might be my bi [3.5 Stars] A very neat conclusion to the series. I continue to love how this series explores a relationship beyond marriage and all the trials and tribulations that come with life as a couple. I wish there had been more glamour in this one, but for obvious reasons there couldn't be more. Kowal handles delicate topics fairly well for the most part in this book. Not perfectly, but well. I will say though that I wish this had been less about Vincent and more about Jane. I think that might be my biggest critique of the series overall: I love it, but sometimes it focuses too much on Vincent's problems and not enough on Jane's.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Olga Godim

    As always, the author delivers a solid story, continuing the tale of Jane and Vincent, a loving married couple, a few years after Napoleon’s defeat. Both are talented artist-glamourists, but the British Empire is in mourning for the death of a princess, and glamour, as a frivolous art, is not performed. Perforce, Jane and Vincent enjoy their much-needed vacation in Europe. For the explanations of glamour, a magic art of illusion, and the protagonists’ previous (mis)adventures, I refer you to the As always, the author delivers a solid story, continuing the tale of Jane and Vincent, a loving married couple, a few years after Napoleon’s defeat. Both are talented artist-glamourists, but the British Empire is in mourning for the death of a princess, and glamour, as a frivolous art, is not performed. Perforce, Jane and Vincent enjoy their much-needed vacation in Europe. For the explanations of glamour, a magic art of illusion, and the protagonists’ previous (mis)adventures, I refer you to the novels 1 through 4 in the series. All the books are stand-alone, but the pleasure of reading them is greatly enhanced if one reads them in the right sequence. In this novel, #5 in the series, Vincent receives a letter from his brother that their father died recently on his plantation in Antigua. The estate is in disarray, the brother is ill, and he asks Vincent to go and sort out the particulars. Vincent’s relationship with his father, an authoritarian, narrow-minded, and manipulative man who didn’t brook any opposition, was always filled with hatred and rebellion, until Vincent completely disassociated himself from the family and even took on a different name for himself. Now, he is an independent man and he doesn’t owe anything to any member of his family. He doesn’t have to go to Antigua, there is nothing for him there, but the brother’s plea for help affects him nonetheless. Jane thinks they should go, especially because, due to the empire-wide mourning, they don’t have any commissions to create glamour. In the end, they go. Unfortunately, when they arrive to the West Indies, the situation proves completely different from what they expected and much harder to sort out. Everything they believed as true turns out to be a lie. The prevalent theme of the book is slavery, a painful topic from any angle. The author doesn’t pull her punches either. For me, this was the hardest book of the entire series. Too much cruelty and suffering, inherent in the slavery system, surrounds our heroes on all sides, and only their mutual love helps them to endure. Jane and Vincent’s love and support for each other permeate all five novels of the series. Their love defines them. It is charming and immense, but to tell the truth, it seems a little over the top. Call me jaded, but I’ve never encountered such all-abiding love in real life, even in the most successful, happily married couples. Everywhere I turn, the relationship between men and women, husbands and wives is strained, at least to some degree. At worst, it resembles an open warfare of the divorce variety. At best, it seems a diplomatic state of truce, a constant balancing of give and take. Nobody loves her or his life partner with such a complete willingness to sacrifice her/his own well-being on the altar of the partner’s happiness. I’ve never encountered such people. Only in fiction, and that is rare as well. Am I just unhappy? Too cynical? Am I surrounded by bad families? I don’t know, but my doubts of Jane and Vincent’s all-consuming love spoiled the effect of the book for me. The world building in this novel is superb, and unlike the love aspect, very realistic, but it’s that very realism that made me uneasy. I’m not a fan of history, especially its most brutal facets, and slavery is definitely one of those. I prefer less intense storytelling, but that doesn’t diminish the book’s power. It’s just my personal opinion. Overall, it’s a strong story, told by a talented writer. It reads fast and leaves a lasting impression. That I didn’t enjoy it as much as the previous books of the series reflects my personal preferences more that the book’s quality. Definitely worth a read.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Jessica Strider

    Pros: considerate treatment of several… delicate issues, wonderful depiction of a loving relationship, interesting plot Cons: last of the series Vincent receives word of his father’s demise. His brother, the new Earl of Verbury, has suffered a recent accident and requests that Vincent go to Antigua to deal with affairs on their estate there and look for a possible updated will. Reluctantly Vincent and Jane take ship, where Jane becomes increasingly ill. It’s soon apparent that she’s with child. It Pros: considerate treatment of several… delicate issues, wonderful depiction of a loving relationship, interesting plot Cons: last of the series Vincent receives word of his father’s demise. His brother, the new Earl of Verbury, has suffered a recent accident and requests that Vincent go to Antigua to deal with affairs on their estate there and look for a possible updated will. Reluctantly Vincent and Jane take ship, where Jane becomes increasingly ill. It’s soon apparent that she’s with child. It’s equally apparent, when they arrive on the island, that affairs on the plantation are not as they expected. You’ll want to refresh your memory of the events of the previous books, particularly book three, Without a Summer, before reading this one, as Vincent’s family plays an important role and his childhood and other events from his past are revisited. Similarly, Jane’s problems from the end of book two, Glamour in Glass, are brought up a lot with regards to her pregnancy. Kowal writes with consideration about the treatment of the slaves on the plantation, showing Vincent and Jane’s ignorance and reaction to what’s going on, from disciplinary measures and substandard housing to the ever present threat of rape from their owners and overseers. There are a few scenes that are uncomfortable to read in the way that it’s easier to look away than to face the realities of the past, even when delivered through fiction. This is equally true with regards to some of the difficulties Jane faces with her pregnancy. It’s such a pleasure seeing a loving marital relationship in a fantasy book depicted with such intimacy (by which I mean openness, not graphic content). The way they know each others habits and can understand their moods based on small gestures and noises is wonderful to see in print, as is their honest desire to help each other cope with the difficulties they face. It’s sad to see such a wonderful series end. I really enjoyed the touch of magic Kowal brought to the Regency period and can’t wait to see what she does next.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Billie

    It would have five stars, but it's the end of the series, which makes me sad, so it lost a star for emotional distress. At least I know that Jane and Vincent will be okay and will live (mostly) happily ever after, because they'll work hard to make sure they do. It would have five stars, but it's the end of the series, which makes me sad, so it lost a star for emotional distress. At least I know that Jane and Vincent will be okay and will live (mostly) happily ever after, because they'll work hard to make sure they do.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Daphne

    This book was a really good ending to the series, and a really good book on its own. I enjoyed it a lot, and feel like this series has largely gotten better as it went on. I do think the first book was better than the second, but the rest has steadily increased in quality. What I really enjoyed about this book is that the author didn't shy away from exploring the atrocities that happened in this time and instead made it part of the plot. I was very invested in the story at Antigua, and enjoyed se This book was a really good ending to the series, and a really good book on its own. I enjoyed it a lot, and feel like this series has largely gotten better as it went on. I do think the first book was better than the second, but the rest has steadily increased in quality. What I really enjoyed about this book is that the author didn't shy away from exploring the atrocities that happened in this time and instead made it part of the plot. I was very invested in the story at Antigua, and enjoyed seeing a non-western setting for this book. Jane and Vincent were both great in this story, and their relationship was tested once again. I feel like all the conflicts worked very well, and none of it felt forced. I enjoyed the moments in this book where they were confronted with their own privilege and learned and grew in their new surroundings. All in all, I think this was a great ending to the series. I'm a little sad to leave it behind now. It's different from anything else I have read, but it has been a very enjoyable experience.

  12. 5 out of 5

    SSShafiq

    A satisfying finish to the Glamourist Histories Series (the first of the year for me!), the charm of this book will depend on how invested you are in the characters. A main couple, Jane and Vincent, continue their international adventures and find trouble. Basically, these two should never leave the shores of England for fear of the world ending. The basic plot deals with “Vincent [receiving] word that his estranged father has passed away on one of his properties in the West Indies”. So they have A satisfying finish to the Glamourist Histories Series (the first of the year for me!), the charm of this book will depend on how invested you are in the characters. A main couple, Jane and Vincent, continue their international adventures and find trouble. Basically, these two should never leave the shores of England for fear of the world ending. The basic plot deals with “Vincent [receiving] word that his estranged father has passed away on one of his properties in the West Indies”. So they have to travel there to settle the estate. The sea voyage is long and Jane … discovers that she is with child” and the stage is set for our couple. Being set in Barbados, this book is surrounding by the awful reality of slavery. Ms. Kowal never shunts that off the page but neither is this book particularly angsty. Our MCs remain steadfastly honest and open minded, which makes this an easy read (well as far as it can be given the context. I did have to put the book down a couple of times as some of the sections did hit me in the feels. This is possibly a lot to do with the BLM context as it made me think about how the scars of history continue.) For me, there was enough historical detail that I want to go back and discover the actual history of the area which I am woefully ignorant about. In that respect, I think this book is a success. If you are looking for something a little more unflinching that you may be disappointed. If you are looking to ignore reality then you may be even more disappointed. The general plot and setting made this the most substantial of the books. It still managed an overall lightness of touch which I appreciated. The bad guys get their cumpanance and there are small victories - but they are small in the end. The author was clever in not having our MCs “change the world” and keeps the scale small and personal. I like the black women in this especially - and the gentle dig at the Euro-centric understanding of Glamour. Jane and Vincent remain the biggest draw for me here - it is rare to see happy, healthy relationships depicted after marriage but here that is front and center. Vincent struggles which his upbringing but they both manage to pull together and support each other. This shouldn’t be the rarity it is but I am glad it exists here. All in all - a solid end. I would give this a 4.5 stars but I am rounding down as per my usual rules. I didn’t get super excited by it but, given the state of the world, I am thinking that is not the book’s fault. The intent here was to be light - almost introductory - despite the heavy subject matter. In the end that is what kept it from a full 5 stars for me - I admire this book but didn’t love it. Even though I think it’s a stronger book than the one before, Valour and Vanity, I think I prefer the latter on a personal level. L Still - this series is worth checking out for fantasy fans who are looking for something gentle but well written.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Lisa Feld

    This was an interesting way to end a Regency series, by looking at the colonies and plantations that bankrolled the prosperity of Austen's era, and the people of color who have been invisible in those stories for too long. Kowal clearly did her homework on the cultures involved, and also has her character make common "well-meaning-white-person" mistakes which alienate the people she is trying to get closer to, enabling her to talk openly about issues that don't usually get discussed. The people This was an interesting way to end a Regency series, by looking at the colonies and plantations that bankrolled the prosperity of Austen's era, and the people of color who have been invisible in those stories for too long. Kowal clearly did her homework on the cultures involved, and also has her character make common "well-meaning-white-person" mistakes which alienate the people she is trying to get closer to, enabling her to talk openly about issues that don't usually get discussed. The people of color, whether enslaved or free, all have names, and their lives and choices don't revolve around Jane and Vincent. And while there are moments where Jane and Vincent use their privilege to help POCs (or get called out for failing to do so), this doesn't seem to be a white savior novel. It also manages to thread the needle of giving closure and a happy ending to the series (including non-white characters) without being saccharine or magically solving racism.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Claire

    A very enjoyable read set in an alt-regency world inspired by Austen. This feels like the last book in the series although there is scope to continue should the author wish. Essentially this is a look at Britain's sugar/slave colonies, alluded to briefly in Mansfield Park, and the foundation of so many aristocratic fortunes. It's reasonably light (I can imagine a very different scenario written by say Joe Abercrombie!) but thought provoking nonetheless. Many of the slaves had white fathers and, c A very enjoyable read set in an alt-regency world inspired by Austen. This feels like the last book in the series although there is scope to continue should the author wish. Essentially this is a look at Britain's sugar/slave colonies, alluded to briefly in Mansfield Park, and the foundation of so many aristocratic fortunes. It's reasonably light (I can imagine a very different scenario written by say Joe Abercrombie!) but thought provoking nonetheless. Many of the slaves had white fathers and, combined with the lighter skins and slightly better conditions as house slaves rather than field hands, this has created a poisonous legacy that survives to this day, combined with the coercive factor of the sexual relationships between white and black. In this world at least there is a relatively happy ending for all concerned and a nice ending to the series.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth (Miss Eliza)

    *Special Content only on my blog, Strange and Random Happenstance during Regency Magic (March & April 2015) After their ordeals in Italy, Jane and Vincent are enjoying their time in Vienna. They are catching up with Vincent's old mentor, Herr Scholes, as well as enjoying becoming acquainted with Jane's new nephew, Tom, who is the pride and joy of the combined Vincent, Ellsworth and O'Brien families. But the Vincents don't know where they will go next after Vienna. The death of Princess Charlotte *Special Content only on my blog, Strange and Random Happenstance during Regency Magic (March & April 2015) After their ordeals in Italy, Jane and Vincent are enjoying their time in Vienna. They are catching up with Vincent's old mentor, Herr Scholes, as well as enjoying becoming acquainted with Jane's new nephew, Tom, who is the pride and joy of the combined Vincent, Ellsworth and O'Brien families. But the Vincents don't know where they will go next after Vienna. The death of Princess Charlotte has plunged England into a yearlong state of mourning, therefore glamourists are without commissions. A shocking letter from Vincent's older brother Richard might give their immediate future purpose. Vincent's hateful father has finally died on his West Indian plantation Greycroft after fleeing England and charges of treason. But even more shocking is the death of Lord Verbury's son and heir, Garland. Garland was killed in a carriage accident that also crippled Richard, the new Lord Verbury. Richard calls on Vincent's compassion, though he knows their family doesn't deserve the consideration, to go to Antigua and settle the estate for him. Vincent has only started to heal from the abuse handed out by his father because of Jane's love. To travel to Antigua might undo all the good she has done for him. But Jane has a sneaking suspicion that until Vincent sees his father in his grave he will never be truly at rest. They decide to travel to Antigua and see what fate has in store for them. Fate is a cruel mistress. Richard wouldn't have sent Vincent to the West Indies if he had known the truth of things. Lies, betrayal, hatred, manipulation, in other words, a typical Hamilton family get-together is in store for the happy couple, who foresee another addition to their family in the near future. Though to get back to England and the happy arrival of their child they might just have to walk through hell without knowing who their allies are. This series, which started out as an homage to Austen with a magical bent has, over the past five years, evolved into a series that, despite it's fantastical alternate history, captures the complexity of the world better then Austen ever did. Each volume helped to create this ever expanding world view that touched on everything from warfare to basic human rights, with a pirate or two thrown in. While Jane Austen's novels are classics that defy comparison, there is something about the cloistered world that they reside in that gives you a very focused and therefore skewed view of the world. While yes, her drawing room dramas can be seen as a microcosm of the world at large, anything beyond the pale, from duels to fallen women to what exactly Sir Thomas Bertram was up to in Antigua are glossed over with just a line because it wouldn't be proper to dwell on them. Modern interpretations of Austen have tried to flesh out these omissions, what with Harold Pinter's portrayal of Sir Thomas Bertram as a reprehensible plantation owner in the unwatchable 1999 adaptation of Mansfield Park, but they leave something to be desired. Mary has built a far better basis for the discussion of race and slavery then Austen ever intended in her books. As someone I was close to said about the aforementioned adaptation of Mansfield Park, it helped if you didn't view it as Austen. That is the key. To get to these new conversations, to approach the world at large you have to think beyond Austen, evolve into something more. Mary has made that something more in this series. With Of Noble Family she is continuing the race discussion that was begun with the coldmongers in Without a Summer and single-handedly blasting away the whitewashing of this time period. All too often we see the world as we want to see it and are scared of tackling the big issues. Sad to say, I don't think I'd ever pick up a book that dealt slavery in Antigua and the running of plantations in the early 1800s. It's not in my wheelhouse. But by taking characters I love and putting them as the voice of reason in this sadly all too common situation my knowledge expanded and my empathetic nature was touched. With Jane and Vincent's arrival in Antigua the whole series feels as if it has moved drastically forward in time, though I don't believe more then three years has elapsed chronologically for them. Charlotte Bronte, despite always dissing Jane Austen, is the natural evolution of female writing in the 19th century. We go from a constricted world with true yet not as emotional love to a world with Mr. Rochester. Think about it, he brings the passion, the fire (quite literally), and the loose morals. He is a man of the world while Jane Eyre is more out of Austen. Of Noble Family is rightly permeated with this more modern Jane Eyre vibe, even more so if you've read Wide Sargasso Sea. The one month journey across the sea has literally opened up a whole new world for Jane and Vincent and because of this we can have all these new conversations. We can talk about race and servant versus slave. I've loved this series from the beginning, but this volume goes out with a bang at almost double the length but without feeling burdened by it's more divisive topics. What appealed to me as an artist is this idea of different ways for glamour to be looked at and taught. Jane has a very strict view of the proper way to do her art. She was taught in the greatest European traditions. But I love that through Nkiruka she learns that black Africans, in particular Igbo, have an entirely different way of creating glamour. I adore Nkiruka and that she's always admonishing Jane because Jane is constrained by what a certain glamour is called. Jane's knowledge of glamour comes from borrowing heavily on words and phrases derived from textile and weaving. But this is a hindrance. As Nkiruka points out, by naming something after something else you are limiting what you are able to do. This literally just blew my mind. There was an opening up in me and I was reminded of that quote "what would attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?" Working within constraints is often the bane of artists. Jane is giving herself impositions without even knowing she's doing it. With Nkiruka we have someone who has had a harsh life and doesn't have as much to lose and therefore she has been able to accomplish more in her art, to do things that those traditionally trained would think inconceivable. Combining the craft of Nkiruka and exploration of race within Of Noble Family, there's a line that Mrs. Pridemore says that hits directly on something that you still see in the art world; and that is artists of color are viewed more as "folk art" then as just artists. While yes, there is a folk art tradition, how would you feel if all the art you made was labelled as such? Black artists are continually fighting an uphill battle to be taken seriously and not classified by their cultural history. We might like to blind ourselves to the world around us, to cocoon ourselves in an Austen drawing room, but seriously, look around yourself. This book might have been written about a time when slavery was still the norm, but it's not like race relations are doing that well at the moment. We need to have books like this that are able to connect and resonant with us on an emotional level with our love of the characters but are also able to open up our minds and start conversations. Start the healing. And healing is needed for many things; for pain and emotional turmoil can happen to anyone, slave or not. Just look to Vincent. With his family and his past coming to the fore he is dealing with reopening his wounds so that they can finally heal properly. If you think about it the fight for freedom, the fight against slavery, the fight against family, all of it is about finding your place in the world. Finding a place to call home where you are safe and cherished and loved. Vincent fights great demons in this book, it is at times hard to read of his suffering, as hard as it is to read of the whippings, but it's all about moving forward. Vincent has always felt awkward around Jane's family because she grew up in a world of love. With the birth of their child he now has a place in that family, as well as a larger family found through strife and turmoil. The world would be a better place if everyone could find this solace somewhere. For me it is in the pages of this book.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Ron

    “Perhaps she could paint me with a halo.” “Nothing so explicit. Simply a ray of light emanating from heaven, as if you are favored by God.” “Ah, for that, I only need you seated at my right hand.” Fitting end to the series: Jane and Vincent must deal with family, that most Austenian of plot movers. But Austen--even glamour--gradually recedes for center stage as our protagonists move far from the shores of England into physical, political and social situations as outside their experience as being “Perhaps she could paint me with a halo.” “Nothing so explicit. Simply a ray of light emanating from heaven, as if you are favored by God.” “Ah, for that, I only need you seated at my right hand.” Fitting end to the series: Jane and Vincent must deal with family, that most Austenian of plot movers. But Austen--even glamour--gradually recedes for center stage as our protagonists move far from the shores of England into physical, political and social situations as outside their experience as being impoverished in Venice, to Antiqua in the Caribbean. “She held his gaze and waited. If there was one thing that a young lady learned, it was how to wait with a tranquil expression.” Kowal tries to maintain a Jane Austen tone--to the point that the grammar is often stilted--but her subjects are far beyond the cloistered existence of Regency England. Kowal enjoys, and makes good use of, resources far beyond anything Austen could imagine. “It was difficult to avoid noticing how many times Julian had been whipped. Jane ground her teeth together as they worked.” This was not England, but England was responsible.” That other cultures may understand and use glamour differently than Europeans might seem obvious, but Jane like many of us occasionally misses what is right before her. Kowal does a credible job defining these alternate approaches--remembering Jane as many Americans seem unaware that Africa is a huge and diverse place--and imagining a credible response for Jane to it. “His eyes were wide and serious with the slightly troubled expression unique to newborns, as if he had come into the world knowing how to right all the troubles but could no longer quite remember how.”

  17. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

    Ah, so here we are at the end of another series. The Glamourist Histories has been a good series overall and I’ve enjoyed spending five books following Jane and Vincent’s adventures. In this last book they are dealing with some pretty heavy stuff including abusive family members and slavery. I’ll be honest, I have a lot of mixed feelings about this book. In this final installment we find Jane and Vincent still recovering from their ordeal in Italy. They’ve finally met up with Jane’s family again Ah, so here we are at the end of another series. The Glamourist Histories has been a good series overall and I’ve enjoyed spending five books following Jane and Vincent’s adventures. In this last book they are dealing with some pretty heavy stuff including abusive family members and slavery. I’ll be honest, I have a lot of mixed feelings about this book. In this final installment we find Jane and Vincent still recovering from their ordeal in Italy. They’ve finally met up with Jane’s family again and things are starting to get back to normal when suddenly Vincent gets word that his father has died. Because his brother is incapacitated he asks Vincent if he’ll travel to the Caribbean and see the the property there, make sure the estate is being handled correctly. He reluctantly agrees, seeing that they’ll have to be officially in mourning for some time and not able to do any glamour jobs, it may be a way for he and Jane to support themselves for the next while. But what they find when they get to the West Indies is full of surprises and horror. I’m glad that we didn’t see Vincent and Jane come into this situation with an ‘I’m going to solve slavery’ type of attitude (although I feel like it was maybe on the verge of this several times…). They were rightfully horrified by the situation they walked into, unused to seeing people actually own other people since they had never encountered slavery before. It did, in some ways, feel like Jane (and even Vincent at times) was a little naive. But that’s kind of par for the course with Jane, she stumbles into situations slightly ignorant sometimes, or doesn’t necessarily understand the consequences of her interference until it’s too late. I get that she’s trying to be helpful but it doesn’t always work out at first. That’s actually pretty true to life, so I felt like that was well written even if it makes for awkward reading at times. And I think that’s my main complaint. As Jane and Vincent stumble through this new environment it all feels extremely awkward. There are things that are acknowledged but never spoken of, and things that are observed that they can do little about even if they wanted to help. Things they do to try and help and it makes things worse. It doesn’t help that the villains of the book lack depth. The overseer of the plantation is a greedy man and his wife an unabashed social climber–they both crave power and status and their positions lend that to them on the small island community. There’s not really anything redeemable about them as people, they’re thoroughly unlikable and of course they are because it’s so much easier to hate them that way, shoving all of your bad feelings about slavery onto their shoulders. I honestly think it would have been so much more effective to have these people be likable and then show the horrors of what they’re responsible for in contrast to them being such ‘nice people’. Because ‘nice people’ do horrific things too. And it’s so much more disarming when you think you like someone and then find out they’re actually kind of horrible because of this one aspect of their life. But, that’s just my opinion and maybe I’ve thought way too much about this. I do think the part with Vincent’s father being an abusive parent was well done for the most part. I especially thought Vincent’s trauma felt very realistic. Although some aspects of that story line felt rather obvious the way in which it was written. ‘Oh, well here is Vincent being manipulated, see how much of a manipulator abusers can be? This is a textbook scenario.’ I had this problem with one of the other books earlier in the series, where it felt like the author was trying to cover some subject and things were written to that point, or to showcase that message, instead of the story feeling organic, if that makes sense. But, again, perhaps I’m just being overly picky. There was still a plethora of great storytelling in this book. We have Jane and Vincent weathering another storm together, their relationship sometimes strained and pulling at the seams from all of the different pressures being put onto it. And this just after the events of the last book where they had one of their biggest blow ups ever. It was good to see them test the waters and come through for one another here, it shows that they’ve both grown. Some other dynamics come into play in the story as well, things that have huge consequences for the direction of the plot and for the characters relationships as well, but I won’t go into that because I don’t want to spoil anything except to say that I really did enjoy a lot of Jane and Vincent’s moments together in this one. I also enjoyed some of the new characters we got to meet in this book. I thought a lot of the folks they met on the plantation (with a few notable exceptions) were very well written and multi-faceted. Overall I thought this was a good book, but not as great as the last one. I’m happy, however, to have finally finished this series. 3.5/5 stars.

  18. 4 out of 5

    QNPoohBear

    Jane and Vincent have spent a happy winter in Vienna with Jane's family. The arrival of Melody's baby, Tom, has brought joy to all their hearts. Then Vincent receives some surprising news which leads Jane and Vincent to the West Indian island of Antigua. Upon their arrival, the learn a shocking secret which will upend their whole lives if they don't stay alert. With a growing sense of foreboding and Vincent not behaving like himself, Jane knows that only she can intervene and manipulate and mast Jane and Vincent have spent a happy winter in Vienna with Jane's family. The arrival of Melody's baby, Tom, has brought joy to all their hearts. Then Vincent receives some surprising news which leads Jane and Vincent to the West Indian island of Antigua. Upon their arrival, the learn a shocking secret which will upend their whole lives if they don't stay alert. With a growing sense of foreboding and Vincent not behaving like himself, Jane knows that only she can intervene and manipulate and master manipulator into letting them have their way. Where do I even start with this review? I don't even know how many stars to give the book because I experienced so many emotions through it. At first everything was going well and it was so nice to see Vincent relaxed and happy. It was a refreshing change from his depression in the previous book. Then once they arrive in Antigua everything changes. The book takes a serious look at slavery and race and issues. Obviously, property in the West Indies means slavery and slavery means encountering gruesome facts and learning to navigate the bizarre world where one's half sibling can be a slave. Jane and Vincent's attitudes reflect our modern values more than the typical opinions of the time. The neighboring planters are more in line with the status quo. Vincent's past, of course, makes him more empathetic to the slaves but as he readily admits, he can't really know what they're going through. I took a graduate seminar on slavery and the discussion about low birth rates sounded familiar and the author acknowledges in her note on history than she fictionalized the reasons for that statistic. Other than one fictionalized element, the rest sounds pretty accurate and it's not for the squeamish. The story isn't all that violent, comparatively speaking, at least reading it. If it was a movie, it would probably be rough to watch. Jane and Vincent's modern attitudes left me conflicted. While I agree with them, I'm not certain they're behaving entirely 19th century. The second most discussed subject in this novel, also not for the squeamish, is childbirth. I learned way more than I never wanted to know about childbirth practices in the early 19th century. Most of my knowledge comes from

  19. 4 out of 5

    Alexandra

    Spoilers for the previous four books, I guess. Things I love about this series: It's about married people being in love, even after being married for a few years. They even still have sex. With each other. Willingly. It's about married people having issues and problems - with one another and with the world - and, in general, working them out together. The magic is really delightful and intriguing. Kowal confronts relevant issues of the time in both a 19th century and a 21st century way. Jane is just Spoilers for the previous four books, I guess. Things I love about this series: It's about married people being in love, even after being married for a few years. They even still have sex. With each other. Willingly. It's about married people having issues and problems - with one another and with the world - and, in general, working them out together. The magic is really delightful and intriguing. Kowal confronts relevant issues of the time in both a 19th century and a 21st century way. Jane is just so AWESOME. In this, the final (sigh) novel of the Glamourist Histories, Vincent is forced once again to confront his family background, and come to terms with it more than previously. He does so in Antigua, whence his father had fled some time ago... to his sugar cane plantation, and thus his slaves. Vincent and Jane travel to Antigua, and Kowal tackles the delicate and problematic issue of how to talk about slaves and slavery in an acceptable, humane, and true-to-19th-and-21st-century ideas way. Overall, I think she manages ell. Jane was fairly well developed in the first book, as the main point of view character. She has changed and matured over the series, but it hasn't been a surprising exploration of her character; our understanding has deepened, not changed. Vincent, however - his character has really been the focus, and continues to be in this book. And I think this makes sense, since it's a lot about a woman learning about her beloved; a beloved who has for years been reserved for the sake of survival, discovering that love means he doesn't have to be that way, thus learning about Jane what the reader already knows. On the issue of slavery... I'm going to assume that Kowal did her homework; I've trusted her in other areas and it seems right to do so here. The one aspect I was... somewhat dubious, or afraid, of, was the language of the enslaved Africans. Happily for my state of mind, she speaks very clearly in her Afterword about the efforts she went to in order to get the dialects 'right', so that relieved me. As did the pointed discussion from some the Africans themselves that they were from different nations - that they spoke different languages, had different traditions with magic, and so on, no matter that white eyes might see them all the same. It made my heart sing. Which brings me to the other bit that I really loved: the discussion of magic, and the differences in tradition between a European model and the different African traditions; that the words and ideas you use to try and explain magic will then actually impact on your use of magic. This was so cool! As was (view spoiler)[the disgust felt by Nkiruka that Jane would steal her ideas for her book - and then Jane's shame, and her efforts immediately to rectify that. Beautiful. (hide spoiler)] It's not all lovely; there are some distinctly distressing and unpleasant moments. But this is, at heart, a romance. And it's comforting to know that this is the sort of romance where the characters do get to live together in harmony, despite and sometimes because of the difficulties they have endured. And this time, I picked the Doctor. Not the first time he was mentioned, but I did find him. I am a little smug about that. I'm so sad that this is the end, but I respect the author's decision not to keep dragging Jane and Vincent through increasingly unlikely adventures just to keep mad readers like me entertained. And it's not like I won't be rereading the stories.

  20. 4 out of 5

    rivka

    4.5 stars for the book. Half a star for the Princess Bride joke.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Hilary

    Just when it seems Jane and Vincent are settling down, duty calls Vincent to Antigua to deal with his late father's estates. Once there, the issue of slavery is far worse than they had realized and everything become more complicated than they could possibly have imagined. There's more than just Jane & Vincent at stake now - families depend on them, but there are only so many changes one can make within an established society without risking everyone. (view spoiler)[Plot-wise, there's a lot covere Just when it seems Jane and Vincent are settling down, duty calls Vincent to Antigua to deal with his late father's estates. Once there, the issue of slavery is far worse than they had realized and everything become more complicated than they could possibly have imagined. There's more than just Jane & Vincent at stake now - families depend on them, but there are only so many changes one can make within an established society without risking everyone. (view spoiler)[Plot-wise, there's a lot covered. Slavery, blackmail, broadening of Jane's horizons when she realizes the Western bias in all her previous glamour teachings, the importance of family, how to balance needs of husband and wife with needs of family, friends, dependents... and all that even *before* you get into the characters! There's a lot of love and evident trust between Jane & Vincent, and it's a pleasant change to see a good marriage where the partners continue to work on it, struggling at times but holding fast to each other despite difficulties. (hide spoiler)] And I loved the resolution.

  22. 5 out of 5

    wishforagiraffe

    Of Noble Family was excellent. I was talking with someone who thought it was the weakest of the series, because there is so much less action. I can certainly understand that argument (although there is still quite a large amount of action, particularly the last 100 or so pages of the book), but I have always felt that the series was more about Jane and Vincent as people, and not about their escapades, and this book does a whole lot of character work. There's a pretty big twist not too far into t Of Noble Family was excellent. I was talking with someone who thought it was the weakest of the series, because there is so much less action. I can certainly understand that argument (although there is still quite a large amount of action, particularly the last 100 or so pages of the book), but I have always felt that the series was more about Jane and Vincent as people, and not about their escapades, and this book does a whole lot of character work. There's a pretty big twist not too far into the book, so it's hard to say much about without spoiling the plot. I will say that, as usual, MRK's handling of racial and class issues was superb. I think she's one of the best at this, and one of the best advocates for improving how people write about these issues. I'm very excited to see what she does next. This book does have a fair amount of tough material to cover, including parental abuse and off-page/historial rape. It's handled delicately, but it could be tough to read for some folks.

  23. 4 out of 5

    h o l l i s

    This final book was easily my favourite of the series. There has been so much character growth since book one, for all involved, and while some of the subject matter in OF NOBLE FAMILY was less than noble, this unquestionably was the highlight for me. It was emotional and full of surprises and Kowal definitely succeeded in wrapping things up just right. The Glamourist Histories series isn't for everyone, and I definitely doubted it was even for me (despite my perseverance), but I was glad to hav This final book was easily my favourite of the series. There has been so much character growth since book one, for all involved, and while some of the subject matter in OF NOBLE FAMILY was less than noble, this unquestionably was the highlight for me. It was emotional and full of surprises and Kowal definitely succeeded in wrapping things up just right. The Glamourist Histories series isn't for everyone, and I definitely doubted it was even for me (despite my perseverance), but I was glad to have experienced it. This set of stories is different yet simultaneously nostalgic in that treasured Austen way, and the addition of fantasy and magic was both simply woven into the narrative yet incredibly complex and ever evolving. Altogether it's a truly unique experience yet one I would not necessarily recommend to just anyone. Patience and a predilection towards lengthy historical fiction, replete with flawed and occasionally annoying characters (especially in the beginning), is a must.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Kate

    I didn't really care for Of Noble Family. The biggest plot twist felt bait and switch to me. When Jane and Vincent (view spoiler)[visit the West Indies, it turns out that Vincent's father isn't actually dead. This annoyed me, as I was expecting one sort of book (about Vincent sorting out matters on the plantation) and found it to be an entirely different sort of book (about Vincent's father and his manipulation and abuse of Vincent and Jane). I found the entire plot to be frustrating and occasion I didn't really care for Of Noble Family. The biggest plot twist felt bait and switch to me. When Jane and Vincent (view spoiler)[visit the West Indies, it turns out that Vincent's father isn't actually dead. This annoyed me, as I was expecting one sort of book (about Vincent sorting out matters on the plantation) and found it to be an entirely different sort of book (about Vincent's father and his manipulation and abuse of Vincent and Jane). I found the entire plot to be frustrating and occasionally contrived (Vincent and Jane can't leave at first because they are physically prevented from leaving, and later because Jane has a difficult pregnancy, so it is a long string of episodes of Vincent's father's manipulation and abuse, which is only solved by his death). (hide spoiler)]

  25. 4 out of 5

    Chuk

    I got an advance reading copy of this from Tor.com. I think it might be my favourite of the series. They are in another new setting, we see new ways to use glamour, and once again there is adventure and tension without very much violence. (One of the things I like about these books is that the problems usually don't involve shooting or punching people -- there's a bit of that, but mostly the difficulties the characters have to overcome involve other things.) Excellent end for the series with a s I got an advance reading copy of this from Tor.com. I think it might be my favourite of the series. They are in another new setting, we see new ways to use glamour, and once again there is adventure and tension without very much violence. (One of the things I like about these books is that the problems usually don't involve shooting or punching people -- there's a bit of that, but mostly the difficulties the characters have to overcome involve other things.) Excellent end for the series with a satisfying epilogue.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Shelly

    I enjoyed this one much more than book four. The stakes seemed higher, there was less annoying repetition, and there were a lot of interesting characters & revelations. Also, I found all the emotional moments felt very real (not good for car and work listening, haha). As far as the audio, MRK is good as always, but I did like having the additional narrators in this one. I think this is the last in the series, and it was a good wrap-up; I don't feel the need for more Jane & Vincent, but more in t I enjoyed this one much more than book four. The stakes seemed higher, there was less annoying repetition, and there were a lot of interesting characters & revelations. Also, I found all the emotional moments felt very real (not good for car and work listening, haha). As far as the audio, MRK is good as always, but I did like having the additional narrators in this one. I think this is the last in the series, and it was a good wrap-up; I don't feel the need for more Jane & Vincent, but more in the universe could be interesting! I'll be on the lookout for more fun books by MRK.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Valerie

    Maybe the author should have called this "Of Noble Pregnancy" because just about from beginning to end, it was about pregnancies. I have enjoyed Ms. Kowal's other books, but I'm glad she is not going to be writing any books in this series, as I am afraid the next one would have been all about babies and toddlers. Not my cup of tea, I'm afraid. Maybe the author should have called this "Of Noble Pregnancy" because just about from beginning to end, it was about pregnancies. I have enjoyed Ms. Kowal's other books, but I'm glad she is not going to be writing any books in this series, as I am afraid the next one would have been all about babies and toddlers. Not my cup of tea, I'm afraid.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Jenny

    Absolutely FABULOUS. I'm really sad that this is the last book of the series, because I've loved reading about Jane and Vincent, but this was a wonderful ending to this great series. Near the end of the book, when there was very real danger for the heroes, I realized just how much I care about these characters. I'm so glad I read these books, and I encourage everybody to read the series! Absolutely FABULOUS. I'm really sad that this is the last book of the series, because I've loved reading about Jane and Vincent, but this was a wonderful ending to this great series. Near the end of the book, when there was very real danger for the heroes, I realized just how much I care about these characters. I'm so glad I read these books, and I encourage everybody to read the series!

  29. 5 out of 5

    Rike Random

    That ending! It's just as frustrating as the ending of the first novel was only that this time it's actually the ending -.- Aside from that though the novel wasn't that bad. But the ending kind of ruined it... That ending! It's just as frustrating as the ending of the first novel was only that this time it's actually the ending -.- Aside from that though the novel wasn't that bad. But the ending kind of ruined it...

  30. 4 out of 5

    Jean

    It was okay, but I felt it could have been more condensed.

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