Hello, dear readers. As promised, here is the book review for Gail Carriger's YA series. As you know, I absolutely love Gail Carriger, and am a big fan of her fashion blog, Retro Rack. And with no further ado... onto the review!
The Finishing School Series takes place in the same universe as Carriger's Parasol Protectorate series... but 20 years earlier, in the 1850s. The series follows Sophronia (which, I might add, was an extremely popular name in the 1850s!) Temmenick, a young woman who has absolutely no interest in becoming a proper lady, much to her mother's dismay. She is covertly recruited to the well-known Mademoiselle Geraldine's Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality. However, Mademoiselle Geraldine's is not just the kind of finishing school where young ladies learn to curtsy properly. They learn to finish...everything and anything that needs finishing. Sophronia quickly gets caught between the dastardly Picklemen (the very conservative, anti-supernatural group) and various vampire contingents. Sophronia must use every lesson that she learns at Mademoiselle Geraldine's in order to not only survive, but win at the game of "intelligencing."
As you all know, my dear readers, I loved the Parasol Protectorate. And I love this series just as much. It's even more ridiculous, in some ways, than Parasol, but that makes it even better. Carriger has managed to paint a very detailed and wonderful cast of characters, including some whom we got to know in Parasol, such as a much younger Genevieve Lefoux, and her aunt Beatrice, and my all-time favorite Lord Akeldama even makes a cameo!
Carriger does a wonderful job at portraying the importance of manners in this society, like in Parasol, and the lessons that the girls learn at the finishing school are to die for (oh la! Aren't I droll?)
There are also some VERY interesting differences between the Victorian world in 1850 and 1870 (the time frames of the two series). The Victorian world that Sophronia lives in is far more mechanized than the one that Alexia lives in. Sophronia has an adorable (and illegal) "mechanimal" dog named Bumbersnoot. All of the servants at the Academy are robots of a sort that run on tracks and coal. Mechanical equipment is highly praised and relied upon in Finishing School, while in Parasol, there seems to be almost no mechanical influence at all (hmm... perhaps reflecting the vampires' distaste for mechanicals?). It's interesting to see the evolution of this world that Carriger has created (albeit in a somewhat backwards manner... going from 1870 to 1850), and I can't wait to read book the third, Waistcoats and Weaponry, which comes out this November!
Rating: 5/5 stars.
Other Thoughts unrelated to the book:
I will hopefully have my review for Dune up in a couple of days, and maybe some more fashion-related posts after that. I'm thinking about doing a mini-series inspired by APairandASpare: "Four Ways to Wear..." I'll take interesting bits and bobs from my wardrobe (hats, blouses, jackets, etc) and show you 4 ways to wear them! It's also a good exercise for me, because I need to start cleaning up my wardrobe. Things I showcase are things that I need to find four ways to wear, otherwise it goes. Oh boy. This should be interesting.
Well, that's all I've got for now, readers. Farewell!