Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Etiquette & Espionage Review

Author:  Gail Carriger
Published February 5th 2013 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

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.
At age fourteen, Sophronia Angelina Temminnick is the youngest daughter in the Temminnick family and the most troublesome.  When the novel opens, Sophronia is trying to dismantle a dumbwaiter elevator to eavesdrop on her mother, Mrs. Temminnick, and her mother's guest, Mrs. Barnaclegoose.  The results are disastrous with Mrs. Barnaclegoose and Sophronia covered in custard.  What is Mrs. Temminnick to do with such an undignified child?  She can't even curtsy properly!

A solution to Mrs. Temminnick's problems comes in the form of Mademoiselle Geraldine's Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality.  Sophronia is horrified that her mother would send her away.  She doesn't mean to be so troublesome.  She just has a lot of curiosity about the world she lives in, but that's not bad right?  Sophronia soon finds out that at Madamoiselle Geraldine's, curiosity is encouraged.  You see this is no ordinary finishing school.  Sure Sophronia will learn the art of the curtsy and other forms of etiquette, but she will also learn how to deceive a target, infiltrate a system, and fight werewolves and vampires, if necessary.  Talk about an education!

Sophronia finds herself fitting right in at the school.  She enjoys her lessons and even makes a few friends, including Dimity Ann Plumleigh-Teignmott.  Before long the two girls find themselves deep in a secret operation.  There's a prototype missing and flywaymen (like highwaymen but airborne) are on the school's tail to get it.  A few covert operations to gather information and even more friends who prove very useful indeed and Sophronia is on her way to being a lady of society, grace, and espionage.

Etiquette & Espionage is the first novel in Gail Carriger's debut YA series Finishing School.  This first book has all the humor and adventure you could ask for, plus it's steampunk!  Definitely a must-read book.  I can't wait for the next installment!

*reviewed by Casie, YA @ Cpl. J. R. Searcy Memorial Library

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