Etiquette and Espionage by Gail Carriger was just released on February 5th, 2013. I am a huge fan of Carriger’s Parasol Protectorate series (henceforth designated as PP because typing that out every time is tiresome) so I couldn’t wait to get my hands on this, the first book in her Finishing School YA series. In fact, I pre-ordered a copy for my Kindle and was delighted when it appeared like magic.
Description from Goodreads:
Sophronia Temminnick at 14 is a great trial more interested in dismantling clocks and climbing trees than proper manners — and the family can only hope that company never sees her atrocious curtsy. Her poor mother, desperate for her daughter to become a proper lady, enrolls the lively tomboy in Mademoiselle Geraldine’s Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality.
But young ladies learn to finish…everything. Certainly, they learn the fine arts of dance, dress, and etiquette, but they also learn to deal out death, diversion, and espionage — in the politest possible ways, of course. Sophronia and her friends are in for a rousing first year’s education.
Sophronia is a precocious teenage girl who prefers mechanics and exploring to the more ladylike subjects of fashion and society. She is sent away quite abruptly to a finishing school. Almost immediately Sophronia realizes that this is not your normal finishing school. Between her home and the school, she is involved in a flywaymen attack (like highwaymen but they travel by air instead of land), a daring rescue, and a high-speed carriage escape. And that’s just the first 2 chapters. There is one major mystery that spans the entire book, but there are many small mysteries and quiet intrigues that spin off the main mystery and come as a result of the students’ social dynamics. Something interesting or exiting happens at almost every turn of the page, so much so I had a lot of trouble putting this book down.
Every one of the students has a distinct personality which sets them apart from the others, even if they fall into the usual stereotypes of teen girls at a boarding school (there’s always that one girl whose personality is just to admire and copy everything that one bossy/rich/popular girl does). Each girl has a particular strength I absolutely loved the descriptions of the school itself and the various areas upon it, though I did worry a bit for its structural integrity (I can’t help it, it’s the engineer in me).
If you have read Carriger’s PP series, you may find a few of these characters familiar. In fact, they are the same characters in the same world some 25 years prior to the happenings in the PP series. It isn’t the entirety of the cast, however, so don’t expect to find young Miss Hisselpenny cavorting about with young Miss Tarabotti, but you will find several familiar names and be enthralled to learn more about their early years.
All in all I loved this book and will highly recommend it.