I meant to bake more steampunkish-related goodies to go with this steampunky book, but I kind of got distracted by five-hour waits on ticket lines and Shakespeare in the Park (so worth the waiting time for anyone with the inclination for Shakespeare or NYC’s Central Park this summer). So I will reserve the edibles at a later date.
That said, I did finish another book on my list of 25 that I’m meant to absolutely read this year. And it was a goodie.
Sophronia Angelina Temminnick is a rambunctious young lady who is quite the aggravation to her dear mother and elder sister. After an introductory misadventure in a dumbwaiter and the abuse of a most delectable custard (reminiscent to Alexia Tarabotti’s unhappy accident involving a tray of sweets in Soulless), Sophronia’s mother, the Lady Temminnick, decides this is the last straw and immediately has her shipped off to a finishing school. Initially, this is all a tremendous and odious tragedy befalling our spunky heroine, up until she realizes that Mademoiselle Geraldine’s Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality is not your run-of-the-mill high-class Victorian finishing school. This becomes apparent considering the school employs the use of a werewolf and a vampire, and the fact that flywaymen are chasing the elusive flying school above the clouds. Not to mention that mathematics classes include a basic understanding of poisons, and deportment lessons have an extra helping of subterfuge.
Clearly all these reasons and thensome are reason enough to stay. For a girl like Sophronia, whose interests run in the inner workings of machines and whose mind is attuned to the work of intelligencers, the school is a perfect fit. Now if only she could find a way to stay afloat on her probationary period whilst solving a mystery involving prototypes, evil geniuses, sooties, and debutante balls. While remaining every bit a lady, of course.
I liked Sophronia much. She’s certainly not your average high society Victorian lady, and is more than willing to undergo a particular mission in as undignified a manner if necessary. Gail Carriger also writes in that humorous tone of voice, a style which, I think, was fabulously done in Soulless and a bit more subdued here in Etiquette & Espionage, though situations are no less funny when I come to think about it.
Etiquette & Espionage (Book 1 of the Finishing School series) is part of Carriger’s alternate Victorian England, where werewolves do required service under Her Majesty and vampires belong to hives–and if they don’t, they likely will not last very long. The series apparently occurs 20-something years before the events in Soulless, so it’s highly likely a few characters creep up from the Parasol Protectorate series and do cameos (or become secondary characters) in FS. Admittedly, I got excited when I recognized the Maccon name. I would have to read Soulless again and continue the rest of the PP series to be able to figure out who else shows up, though, ’cause otherwise the cameos would be lost on me. Not that they’re bad reads anyway.
For a fun romp across the sky, into evil genius lairs, and with the involvement of a finishing school on a floating ship, I’d definitely give this book four stars. (At some point I’m going to have to start rating these in cupcakes…)