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A School for Unusual Girls: A Stranje House Novel Hardcover – May 19, 2015
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From School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up—This intriguing series opener is a tale of daring, conspiracy, adventure, and romance set against the tumultuous, backdrop of war-torn Europe in 1814. Napoleon is in exile on Elba, dignitaries from across Europe are gathering at the Congress of Vienna, and assassination plots are rumored. At the cavernous Stranje House in England, a select group of spirited, inventive, and nonconformist girls are secretly learning espionage tactics. Georgiana Fitzwilliam has an unconventional aptitude and enthusiasm for math and science. When one of her experiments accidentally leads to a fire in her father's stables, Georgie is banished by her exasperated parents to the supposedly harsh, reforming tutelage of Headmistress Emily Stranje. Georgie gradually discovers that all is not as it seems. Her classmates have special talents; her headmistress is a clever, well-connected, resourceful teacher; and visiting Lord Sebastian Wyatt is on a covert mission. Georgie's invention of invisible ink becomes a vital secret communication weapon supporting the new order in Europe. Although the novel is rich in historical references, language, and culture, not all of the happenings are actually true. This alternative history series will appeal to fans of Gail Carriger's works and "The Cecelia and Kate" novels (Harcourt) by Patricia C. Wrede and Carolyn Stevermer. Teens will enjoy the well-drawn cast of characters and identify with 19th-century Georgie's angst, insecurity, desire for independence, and first love. VERDICT The spunky, naive, and passsionate protagonist will resonate with readers, who will appreciate the lively, fast-paced narrative of personal discovery, maturing realizations, and understanding.—Gerry Larson, formerly at Durham School of the Arts, NC
“Baldwin has an ear for period dialogue as she draws us into this world of sharp, smart young ladies who are actually being trained and deployed for the British war effort.... Swoony moments also abound.” ―New York Times Book Review
“Romance readers who prize both brains and valor in a heroine will be pleased to make Georgie's acquaintance.” ―Kirkus Reviews
“A School for Unusual Girls sucked me in from the first few pages and kept me reading until late into the night. Kathleen Baldwin has created a completely original--and totally engrossing--world, full of smart girls, handsome boys, and sinister mysteries. Who wouldn't want to enroll?” ―Meg Cabot, bestselling author of The Princess Diaries
“Spellbinding! A School for Unusual Girls is a beautifully written tale of adventure, intrigue, and romance that will appeal to every girl who has ever felt different…. A true page-turner!” ―Rachel Hawthorne, NYT and USA Today bestselling author of Trouble from the Start
“Baldwin has crafted a Regency romance that celebrates smart, strong young women who, while careful to embrace many of society's mores, hold their own with the men they encounter, oftentimes besting them both intellectually and physically.... Readers can look forward to revisiting these enthralling characters and their adventures and romances in the Stranje House series.” ―Booklist
Top customer reviews
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The author takes the reader on a journey that leaves one reluctant to stop. Not only does she transport us to another time and place, she manages to make us identify with these unusual girls who have troubled pasts and to root for them. A wonderful message of redemption for those who do not feel compelled to follow the established rules of society but seek to remain true to their own calling, is woven through the story’s themes of transformation, love, and responsibility. Kathleen Baldwin writes with a masterful grasp of plot and pacing, keeping the reader thoroughly enticed with just enough mystery and intrigue (and the occasional breathtaking hint of romance). She strikes that amazing balance of fully satisfying at quintessential moments, yet leaving us yearning for the story to continue. Fortunately it does, in the next novel in the Stranje House series: Exiles for Dreamers. I have already purchased my copy and I’m looking forward to immersing myself in the next adventure that the Stranje House has in store!
She likes science. *shudders delicately* She also has red hair and freckles in a society that abhors both. But it's her love of experiments that is perceived to be the greater of evils . . . *whispers* Well bred young ladies DO NOT science.
And when her father's stable and a quarter of a neighboring orchard burns to ash as a direct result of one of said experiments, her parents have had enough.
They pack her up and dump her out at Stranje House, a boarding school rumored to employ such barbarous practices as TORTURE to transform the exceptional daughters of the upper classes into unexceptional, but infinitely more marriageable, ladies.
After touring the dungeon (at her father's behest), observing the rack (not currently in use), and witnessing two girls strapped into hideous contraptions (one of them a sarcophagus equipped with nails), Georgiana decides she'd rather run than be subjected to such mistreatment.
Instead of an exit, she discovers a hidden passageway, and upon further exploration, she overhears two men--GASP!--discussing the very experiment that got her sent to Stranje House, in the first place.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN?! *giggle snorts*
It means that things aren't as they appear, of course.
Except for the fact that her parents are wretched for leaving her in a place they believed to be as awful as Stranje House . . .
There’s no escaping that fact for poor Georgiana.
But Miss Stranje gives her an opportunity to do what she loves, to make a difference, to make a significant contribution to the world, and she grabs onto it with both hands.
And Georgiana isn't alone at Stranje House.
Among the other girls, only Lady Jane has a gift the can be construed as mundane (a flair for making estates profitable), while the others have . . . more unusual gifts. There's Tess, who has prophetic dreams and seems to understand animals, Sera, who sees the truth of things, and Maya, whose voice is strangely compelling.
But why is Miss Stranje collecting these outcasts of society? Why are such extreme measures being taken to ensure there will be no interference from their (despicable) relations?
Read it and find out. *winks*
A SCHOOL FOR UNUSUAL GIRLS by Kathleen Baldwin . . . is utterly and delightfully . . . ridiculous. The next time you need a pretty bit of fluff to cleanse your palate, I highly recommend you give this one a try. If you're unsure, try the preview chapters. That's what I did, and I was hooked before I reached its end.
Most recent customer reviews
I have already purchased books 2 and 3 in this series and can't wait to dive in.Read more