Calvert’s Review: Etiquette and Espionage by Gail Carriger

etiquette espionageEtiquette and Espionage by Gail Carriger

Published: February 5th 2013 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Format/Source: Purchased paperback
Series: Finishing School #1
Genre: Young Adult, Steampunk, Science Fiction
Pages: 307


Fourteen-year-old Sophronia is the bane of her mother’s existence. Sophronia is more interested in dismantling clocks and climbing trees than proper etiquette at tea–and god forbid anyone see her atrocious curtsy. Mrs. Temminnick is desperate for her daughter to become a proper lady. She enrolls Sophronia in Mademoiselle Geraldine’s Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality.

But little do Sophronia or her mother know that this is a school where ingenious young girls learn to finish, all right–but it’s a different kind of finishing. Mademoiselle Geraldine’s certainly trains young ladies in the finer arts of dance, dress, and etiquette, but also in the other kinds of finishing: the fine arts of death, diversion, deceit, espionage, and the modern weaponries. Sophronia and her friends are going to have a rousing first year at school.



This is an adorable young adult book! While it definitely skews to the younger end of the spectrum, the plot and worldbuilding are filled with so much creativity that it would entertain anyone. The characters are fully fleshed out, no one dimensional extras, and the scenery is deliciously descriptive. My favorite part about this series is though the girls are learning to be spies and assassins, they do not do so by sacrificing their femininity. Instead, Mademoiselle Geraldine’s teaches the students all the finer points of running a household, misdirection, and murder. The girls are taught to embrace their feminine wiles, and to use them to their advantage.

A great lighthearted read, once I started I could not put it down. Then I immediately sent it off to a friend to share the experience! The only complaint I have is that there were bits and pieces of a larger more sinister plot that were not given much explanation. A little like cotton candy, I enjoyed every moment with the book but afterwards wanted more substance. I am hoping that the next installment will flesh out the parts that need it. I’m also looking to get the first book in Carriger’s adult series set in the same world, The Parasol Protectorate. When it comes to Etiquette and Espionage though, I think it’s a great book for that awkward age in between children’s’ and true young adult books, or just some light summer reading!

pj - calvert

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