Of Noble Family

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Of Noble Family by Mary Robinette Kowal is the fifth and final installment in her Glamourist series, where Regency-era characters weave strands of magic into illusory glamours. Of Noble Family takes protagonists Jane and Vincent to Vincent’s estranged family’s slave plantations in the Caribbean. There, the protagonists struggle to reconcile their own abolitionist sentiments with Vincent’s familial legacy of abuse and molestation – all while Jane grows increasingly closer to giving birth to their child.

Of Noble Family contains an incredibly, even eerily accurate description of a young husband’s anxiety over his wife during childbirth; Kowal caught those emotions and captured them perfectly. The continuing relationship of Vincent and Jane provides a satisfying love story, and all of the tension, drama, and use of language for which Kowal has justly become successful are on display.

That said, depictions of race in Of Noble Birth are a problem for the work. Kowal errs on the side of respect and caution – which is certainly the safer route when describing very sensitive subjects – but surely not every slave could speak with the education and polish of Olaudah Equiano, or display such remarkable resilience to constant constant physical, emotional, and sexual abuse. Kowal’s depictions of race are resolved far too neatly and cleanly for any era, let alone a Caribbean slave plantation of the early 1800s.

Still, Of Noble Family is a satisfying end to a very enjoyable series; fans of Kowal’s other work will similarly enjoy this one, as will most readers interested in historical fiction or Regency romance.

Reviewed By:

Author Mary Robinette Kowal
Star Count 4/5
Format Hard
Page Count 576 pages
Publisher Tor Books
Publish Date 2015-Apr-28
ISBN 9780765378361
Amazon Buy this Book
Issue November 2015
Category Science Fiction & Fantasy


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