Review of Etiquette and Espionage, Curtsies & Conspiracies and the rest of the Finishing School series by Gail Carriger. Sophronia is sent of to an unusual finishing school, where she learns spy craft and have wonderful adventures with her friends and a steampunk dog.
Finishing School series
My review of Finishing School series by Gail Carriger
Title: Etiquette and Espionage & Curtsies and Conspiracies
Author: Gail Carriger
Series: Finishing School, book 1 & 2
Genre: Steampunk, young adult, boarding school, adventure, comedy of manners, fantasy
Themes: Friendship, school life,
The Finishing School series is part of the greater steampunk universe that Gail Carriger is writing. The The Parasol Protectorate series is probably the main series, but I like Finishing School way better. I like the protagonist better and I really like boarding school books. The Finishing School series is set in a steampunk England in 1851-1854. The books give me all the same joy as a magic school book series, but with the added fun of being about espionage and spy craft.
My review of Etiquette and Espionage by Gail Carriger
Etiquette and Espionage is great fun! It made me want to read more Gail Carriger! MannerPunk for the win! Carriger really plays with the complicated nature of Victorian manners and uses them for great comedic purpose.
The dry wit and banter had me giggling while reading.
My review of Curtsies and Conspiracies by Gail Carriger
I really liked the Curtsies and Conspiracies, it is funny, entertaining, fast paced with plenty of action and enough quite domestic scenes to make me happy.
My review from 2014 of Curtsies and Conspiracies series by Gail Carriger
Curtsies and Conspiracies is such an easy read all of it pretty much in one sitting giggling along the way and was so sad when the book ended and there was no more. In other words like when I read books in my teens. I didn’t want it to end because I was having so much fun and I didn’t want to leave this awesome world.
The writing is peppered with expressions that makes it feel like it is set in the 1800s without being bogged down with the actual victorian writing style. There are so many funny turns of phrases and the names are just so silly and enjoyable.
“Footwear, after all, was a serious commitment.”
Curtsies and Conspiracies is by no means a serious book but it is a highly entertaining book. I know I just said that the book isn’t serious that isn’t quite true. Our protagonist is for the first time faced by the very real consequences of the games she plays, up until then the whole espionage thing has very much been a game to her. In this book she is forced to face that her actions affect real people in quite profound ways.
This series is all about female friendships which is wonderful. They are so sweet but also so mean to each other – like 14 year olds are. Curtsies and Conspiracies is also very much about fashion and half way though I had to get up and grab my fashion history book to see what kind of dresses they were talking about.
I really love how our protagonist befriend the sooties but still not quite see them as real boys, even though she has feelings for one of them. This makes the book feel like it is set in the time instead of the protagonist being a modern girl transported into the past. The protagonist is quite progressive but not unrealistically so. I do find it a bit odd that Soap is so much older than Sophronia (I think she is 14 and he is 17 – that is a lot at that age). I could see if she was in love with him but the other way around seems a bit strange.
It will be quite interesting to see how the romance will develop in the next book. Right now I have to agree with our protagonist that the love-interest is a bit of an arrogant idiot at time. Seriously our protagonist is more competent than you and she does not need you saving her – so stop it – though it is of course quite sweet that you try – in a puppy kind of way.
I have to say that I adore the description of the male gentalia that is the book – it is so funny and seems quite right for 14 year old girls. It made me giggle and highlight the section.
There are some henchmen as antagonists. When the situation gets too hot, they decides to make a run for it with the comment:
“We ain’t paid enough for this”
Which made me very happy. In most action movies (and this really is an action adventure), the henchmen stay and fight after most of their colleges are killed and they could easily escape the situation. Which quite often annoys me, ok sometimes that is realistic because they are part of a gang and their situation is quite desperate, but the random museum security guard, I don’t think he would stick it out and fight people with rocket launchers – sorry I don’t think he gets payed enough and I think he would rather live to see his family tomorrow. So it made me extremely happy when the henchmen decided to get out of the sticky situation.
Ok enough rambling. I really liked the book, it is funny, entertaining, fast paced with plenty of action and enough quite domestic scenes to make me happy.
My review of Waistcoats and Weaponry by Gail Carriger
Waistcoats and Weaponry is really a fun romp. What more do you need to know? Perhaps you need to know that the protagonist is strong willed and willing to break conventions when it suits her. That she will never be a pretty flower in a gentleman’s bouquet and that really unsettles the people around her. Perhaps you need to know that there is one of the best teen romances I have read in a long time in there among the action – never slowing it down for one second.
The stats: Etiquette and Espionage & Curtsies and Conspiracies & Waistcoats and Weaponry
Published: 2013 & 2014 by Hachette
Read: April 2013 & November 2013 & November 2014
Author: Female, white, USA
The protagonists: Female, white, teenager, minor nobility, student
This review was originally posted: November 8, 2013. Updated and edited June 30, 2023