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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 Although the novel is rich in historical references, language, and culture, not all of the happenings are actually true.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
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Top Customer Reviews
We meet Georgiana on her way to a school that, rumors say, reforms girls. She's heartbroken that she has to leave. She didn't mean that burn down the barn and part of the apple orchards. But, she can't help her inquisitive and scientific mind. One that is truly appreciated at the Stranje House for Girls.
Once the shock of being left by her parents wears off, she notices that all of the girls are gifted in some way. She, however, was brought to the guide to help the Crown fight off Napoleon escaping Elba.
Honestly, I hadn't thought about this period in history outside from when I had to learn it in school. But reading it now and the alternative take is fascinating. I can't wait to read the next nook and see what happens.
What defines a misfit? Is it the ability to think? A dislike of fashion aligned with a insatiable curiosity about how things work? Or a refusal to be silent? A refusal to be scenery just because of the skin you were born in?
Stranje House is a place of exile or is it an escape? How will you define it? Read the book and decide. My decision is sending me off to buy the next in the series.... such a tasty treat.
That's right. The true story of Napoleon's aborted comeback from Elba is here somewhat modified: in this alternative history Napoleon is primed for a triumphant comeback. The only thing standing between the underground group that calls itself the Order of the Iron Crown and history as we lived it are a group of handsome male spies, including one Sebastian Wyatt, and the girls of the Stanje house.
The protagonist of this first installment is Georgina Fitzwilliams, who arrives at Stanje house thinking it is a reform school designed to crush her spirit and in other ways prepare her for marriage. Soon she finds that things are much different from how they look, and that her skills at making invisible ink and building Da Vinci flying machines (that's a hang glider to you and me) will come in handy.
Perhaps because the story is the first installment, it takes a little while to get going. It seems to take the otherwise very clever Georgina quite a long time to figure out what the true nature of her new school is. And even what she does it takes a while for the action to really get going. But once it does it rips and roars. I can't wait for the next installment!