Of Noble Family by Mary Robinette Kowal

Of Noble Family.jpgJane and Vincent have already faced down class privileges when they wanted to get married, they faced down a war when they spied overseas, and they faced a mix of poverty, class privileges, and almost-war when there was a cold-monger’s strike in Merrie Olde Englande. What’s left? Facing down the fact that an awful lot of England’s wealth comes from slavery.

 

Kowal does not gloss over the less pleasant facts. Some slaves look just like the master’s son. His official sons, that is. Some slave owners are more benign, some less, the slaves are still slaves. Well-meaning people like Our Heroes can unthinkingly screw up, because they assume slaves don’t mind <insert thoughtless behavior here>. Freed people-of-color are not completely out of danger. “Escape” is nearly meaningless if there’s nowhere to go – but not completely meaningless.

Where is Antigua?   That tiny white dot in the red circle is “Antigua and Barbados.” It’s a a mall island in a big, big ocean. Miami, Florida, is in the upper corner as a reference. England is way over on another part of the map.

antigua

The Good:The Good

  • Hideous family relationships are a LOT EASIER when you’ve got a support team who OOPS FAINTED have a means to get you out of the room.
  • The plot twists to get Jane and Vincent into the islands are believable. The plot twists that keep them there, also quite credible.
  • Vincent has whip marks on his back, from the war. Gossip: he’s a freed slave.The Bad

The Bad:

  • Jane was furious when she helped write a book and her name did not show up with the other author’s. She nearly did the same to someone else.
  • The slave who “doesn’t want” to leave the old master – because his children will pay the price. *shudder*
  • Princess Charlotte (white, rich, best medical care) loses her life in childbirth. This makes the slave’s low rate of live births very believable, and knocks my theory of “smuggle the mom&baby out to freedom” right out of the ballpark.Double Take

The Double Take:

  • All the different dialects. Wow. Take that, Huck Finn! (with many thanks to the people who Kowal consulted with)
  • The Ladies of the island want to do an Entertainment of warm exotic places – and Jane persuades them to do a -cold- exotic place, becasue in the West Indies hot is not quite as exotic as it was in England.
  • Stay Away from the Ravine. Oh, the ravine. Someone’s going to fall in, you just know it.
  • The dress on the cover WAS CREATED BY THE AUTHOR. Fun times!

 

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