Little, Brown Books
Etiquette and Espionage is a young adult novel that takes place in the same universe as Carriger’s Parasol Protectorate series. (It is the first part of the “Finishing School” series.) Our Heroine is a girl named Sophronia who has the kind of childish, Tom Sawyer type adventures that are the despair of any parent that is trying to turn their daughter into a “lady.” After an incident with a dumbwaiter and a trifle, Sophronia is packed off to an elite finishing school.
Sophronia is not on board with the plan, until the headmistress taking her to the school turns out to be an imposter, and their carriage gets hijacked by “flywaymen” seeking a mysterious “prototype.” It turns out that Madame Geraldine’s Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality is a finishing school intended to train spies. The students at the school learn how to finish everything from the plans for a dinner seating twenty, to finishing off half of the guests. Sophronia makes friends, gets into and out of a great many sticky situations, and involves herself with finding the missing prototype. (Or rather, the prototype hidden by a student who had been assigned to transport it, and didn’t want to.)
This novel has a lot of fun twists and turns as Sophronia keeps up with her classes, adopts stray mechanical dogs and explores the school, which is a very large airship. There are some great character interactions, and some hints that there might be some romance in the future. Etiquette and Espionage is a light, quick read with Carriger’s quirky humor and commentary on hats and clothes. (There is also a great many humorously embarrassing moments. People who are sensitive to second hand embarrassment beware!) The characters are engaging and fun, the dialog is snappy, and I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book.