Saturday 23 March 2013

Etiquette and Espionage by Gail Carriger

Paperback,312 pages
Published February 5th 2013 by ATOM
The only way of hearing her mother, Mrs Barnaclegoose, and the stranger was from inside the dumbwaiter. Mrs Barnaclegoose had decided opinions on reforming other women’s daughters. Sophronia did not want to be reformed. So she had pressed the dumbwaiter into the service of espionage.
Summary from Good Reads
Fourteen-year-old Sophronia is a great trial to her poor mother. Sophronia is more interested in dismantling clocks and climbing trees than proper manners—and the family can only hope that company never sees her atrocious curtsey. Mrs. Temminick is desperate for her daughter to become a proper lady. So she enrolls Sophronia in Mademoiselle Geraldine's Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality. But Sophronia soon realizes the school is not quite what her mother might have hoped. At Mademoiselle Geraldine's, 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.
Review by K.M.Lockwood
With a title like that and a cover that shows a young lady in a crinoline armed with scissors, you know what to expect. Not to mention the cog-decorated magenta damask background. 
Gail Carriger delivers an adventure set largely in a steampunk girls’ finishing school with great gusto and humour. Full of idiosyncratic faux-Victorian language and gloriously extravagant settings (who could forget the dirigible academy?), there is a strong core of personal relationships and intrigues that you would expect in a school story. There are also a fair few moments of comedy verging on the slapstick at times (which is not a fault) and the merest hintette of romance.
Not content with an alternative 19th century, we also have Supernaturals such as werewolves and vampires – and mechanimals including the dear little Bumbersnoot. A heady mix. For my part, I particularly enjoyed the range of active, self-determining female characters. The only reason for these girls swooning at a man is artifice (or perhaps too-tight corsets).
You will appreciate this romp of a story if you like adventure, peril and smart girls. The ideal reader would also enjoy interesting and perhaps unfamiliar language at times, and have a soft spot for writers who don’t take their work too seriously. Great fun – and plenty more to come in the series.

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