16 Jul 2013

Etiquette & Espionage by Gail Carriger

It's one thing to learn to curtsy properly. It's quite another to learn to curtsy and throw a knife at the same time. Welcome to Finishing School.

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 curtsy. 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.

Set in the same world as the Parasol Protectorate, this YA series debut is filled with all the saucy adventure and droll humor Gail Carriger's legions of fans have come to adore.

Published:    5th February 2013
Publisher:   Little Brown Books
Goodreads :  Click here
Series:  Book 1, Finishing School
Source:  Review Copy from Publisher
Review:   7 out of 10

What I loved about this book…

What I loved the most is the funny/comical side to this story.  It wasn’t funny/comical speaking about the story but sometimes a character will say something in reply to something and the reply I found quite amusing!  For example and I hope that the author doesn’t mind me quoting from her book but this was one of my favourite parts.  This is where Sophronia has just arrived at the school and it looks like they are being ambushed by intruders:

‘Wait for it Professor.  We are an institution of higher learning and higher manners.  We simply cannot shoot first; it isn’t done.  Now, remember that, Miss Temminnick, do – a lady never shoots first.  She asks questions, then she shoots.’

I also liked the fact that this story had a very old fashioned Victorian type feel to the story but in the same way it felt like it was in modern times – not modern like mobile phones etc but modern as if this is a story that despite having an old fashioned feel to it the story could have been placed in any decade and mostly all of it could apply to that era.

Not wanting to spoil the story for those of you who have not read the story yet, I liked the variety of characters in this story.  I found that very surprising, as I was not expecting it to be that type of story.   I won’t say any more but if you have read it you will know what I mean 

What I was not fond of about this book…

I had a lot of trouble with names in this book.  Although I did get the hang of it eventually I did find the names to be very unusual, sometimes long winded and hard to remember, which did put me off track when trying to concentrate on the story.   Did get the hang of it but only nearer the end of the story.   I was also quite surprised by the number of complicated words in the story, some of them I didn’t even know and had to look up.

Although I understand what this story wanted to concentrate on, I would have loved to have read more about the actual lessons in the school – what they taught in more detail and see the characters learning new things.  Maybe this might feature more in later books but with this book I get the impression that it is more about what happens outside of lessons rather than what goes on inside and what they learn.

In summary…

Although I felt that the story was very predictable and  I would have loved to have had more mystery in the story, I really enjoyed this book and loved the idea of having a finishing school that doubles as a school for espionage.  The comical side of espionage was what I enjoyed most about this story and kept me giggling throughout the story.

Video Review....

Best wishes

Debs J

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