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Full Name: Sophronia Temminnick
Series Name: Finishing School
Nationality: British
Organization: British Intelligence
Occupation Agent

Creator: Gail Carriger
Time Span: 2013 - 2015


Sophronia Angelina Temminnick is a student at a school for spies.

Well, that sounds far too crass and since the establishment is first and foremost a 'finishing school' perhaps it is better to say she is attending classes designed for Intelligencers or Assassins. As we are told in a blurb on the basis of the curriculum, "It's one thing to learn to curtsy properly. It's quite another to learn to curtsy and throw a knife at the same time. Welcome to Finishing School."

More formally, it is Mademoiselle Geraldine's Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality. "At Mademoiselle Geraldine's, young ladies learn to finish...everything. Certainly, they learn the fine arts of dance, dress, and etiquette, but the also learn to deal out death, diversion, and espionage--in the politest possible ways, of course."

All of this, it is fair and important to state right away, takes place in what we might call "an alternate universe", one in which steampunk devices of outrageous intents and usages are fairly commonplace. And quite reprehensible creatures such as vampires and werewolves and even worse are known to stalk the streets and rural roads of this version of England in the year 1851.

14-year-old Sophronia is sent to this establishment because, well, she "is a great trial to her poor mother. Sophronia is more interested in dismantling clocks and climbing trees than proper manners--and the family can only hope that company never sees her atrocious curtsy." That much put-upon mother wants so very much for this daughter to become a proper lady like her older sisters. This is becoming quite important as sister Petunia is about to have her coming-out ball and it is certain by, well, the entire household that Sophronia will do something inadvertent to ruin everything. Hence the need for the finishing school.

What Mother and the sister did not know is that Mademoiselle Geraldine's training will provide the graces that society requires and the talents that a cloak-and-dagger profession will use. "At Mademoiselle Geraldine's, young ladies learn to finish...everything. Certainly, they learn the fine arts of dance, dress, and etiquette, but the also learn to deal out death, diversion, and espionage - in the politest possible ways, of course."

Case in point: "Does one need four fully grown foxgloves for decorating a dinner table for six guests? Or is it six foxgloves to kill four fully grown guests?" (I for one do not know).


Number of Books:4
First Appearance:2013
Last Appearance:2015

As per a blurb for the first adventure: "This young adult steampunk series debut set in the same world as the New York Times bestselling Parasol Protectorate is filled with all the saucy adventure and droll humor Gail Carriger's legions of fans have come to adore."

1 Etiquette & Espionage Etiquette & Espionage
Written by Gail Carriger
Copyright: 2013

Mumsy is so upset at tomboy-ish Sophronia that the teenage girl is sent to a finishing school, not knowing that it is also a school for spies and assassins. As the first year progresses, Sophronia will become mixed up in the intrigue surrounding a stolen device of some importance to, well, everyone.
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2 Curtsies & Conspiracies Curtsies & Conspiracies
Written by Gail Carriger
Copyright: 2013

Everyone at the school is abuzz at the school trip to London but not everyone knows that there is more to it than appears. "A conspiracy is afoot--one with dire implications for both supernaturals and humans. Sophronia must rely on her training to discover who is behind the dangerous plot-and survive the London Season with a full dance card."
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3 Waistcoats & Weaponry Waistcoats & Weaponry
Written by Gail Carriger
Copyright: 2014

"Sophronia, her best friend Dimity, sweet sootie Soap, and the charming Lord Felix Mersey stowaway on a train to return their classmate Sidheag to her werewolf pack in Scotland. No one suspected what—or who—they would find aboard that suspiciously empty train. Sophronia uncovers a plot that threatens to throw all of London into chaos and she must decide where her loyalties lie, once and for all."
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4 Manners & Mutiny Manners & Mutiny
Written by Gail Carriger
Copyright: 2015

"A large-scale plot is under way, and when it comes to fruition, Sophronia must be ready to save her friends, her school, and all of London from disaster—in decidedly dramatic fashion, of course. What will become of our proper young heroine when she puts her years of training to the test?"
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So, as I figured out, Sophronia's mother needed her to learn deportment and decorum and how not to get into trouble. Her solution was to unknowingly send her off to a school where they teach young women how to be a spy or assassin or both. Luckily she will become an excellent student and in the process, well, dang if she didn't start to mature. If that means knowing the proper utensil to use at any meal or to use it to do away with your host.

I am always on the lookout for good steampunk tales - and I have found a lot of bad ones, IMHO - and this was was a hoot. Shame there was only 4.


My Grade: B+


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