Etiquette and Espionage


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. Temminnick 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 the 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.

Let me tell you, I was very excited to read this series by Gail Carriger. She’s an excellent writer and does a great job with the steampunk genre. I also think she herself is a character and it shows in her work. Etiquette and Espionage is the first book in her new YA Finishing School series. I was not disappointed! This series is set in Victorian England at the early stage of dirigible travel and there seems to be more testing of the automatons and gagdets than in her Souless series. When our protagonist is sent off to finishing school, she soon learns that it’s really a school for spys and espionage.

This book was a fun read and once you got into (or past) the silly names (Mrs. Barnaclegoose?) it really was a lot of fun with Sophronia just falling into trouble everywhere she goes. The main character was enjoyable and interesting and the supporting players well developed. I especially enjoyed the sneak peak into the early years of a favorite character from Carriger’s Parasol Protectorate series. I am looking forward to reading the next in the series: Curtsies and Consipracies. This is a great series for advanced middle readers and up.

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