Etiquette & Espionage (Finishing School - Book 1)
by Gail Carriger
Review by Gayle Surrette
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers Kindle Edition ISBN/ITEM#: B007ZGKMXM
Date: 05 February 2013
In last month's issue of SFRevu, I reviewed Curtsies & Conspiracies (Finishing School Series, Book 2). And at that time I noted that I'd just started reading book one -- mostly to see what I missed.
In Etiquette & Espionage, Carriger introduces Sophronia Temminnick. At 14, Sophronia is not acting as her mother wishes. Her curtsy is atrocious, she talks to the servants, doesn't pay attention to her dress, and often climbs trees. Her mother is desperate to have Sophronia trained in etiquette so that she doesn't ruin her older sister's coming out. At just this point, Sophronia is accepted at Mademoiselle Geraldine's Academy for Young Ladies of Quality.
Sophronia is upset by this turn of events. She learns about it and is hustled off to the school with hardly any time to pack, and no chance to change her mother's mind. On the way to the school, her carriage is attacked, and Sophronia and the other students must act to save themselves and their escort, who has been dragged from the vehicle.
It doesn't take Sophronia long to realize that this is not the usual school, and the lessons are decidedly strange. Sophronia learns that in some cases being a lady incorporates many of the talents her mother wished she didn't have. In other words, Sophronia could learn to enjoy this school. However, she also has to learn to get along with the other students in her year, and that may take a lot more work.
If you start the series here you'll be up to speed on this alternate history/steampunk era where magic and intrigue abound and even young ladies can lead exciting lives of adventure and espionage. It also sets up the background for the main story line of book two.