‘A School for Unusual Girls’ (Stranje House #1) by Kathleen Baldwin
‘A School for Unusual Girls’ (Stranje House #1)
May 19th 2015
16 year old Georgiana Fitzwilliam is not like any other girl in the 1800, instead of being ready for marriage she spends her days reading about science and trying out different experiments.
One day one of them ends badly as she tries to make invisible ink. By accident she sets her father’s stables on fire and Georgiana’s parents sends her to Strange House, a boarding school that forms young troubled girls into young marriageable ladies – or so they think.
As Georgiana gets to the school she soon finds out, that Miss Stanje isn’t trying to make her students into marriageable young ladies but instead she is trying to form them into spies in a time, where Napoleon has been exiled to Elba and England is at war. But Miss Stranje has other ideas for Georgiana she wants her to develop her invisible ink so that England can use it, and to help her do so she meets Lord Sebastian Wyatt. But can they make the ink in time and can they do so without falling completely in love with each other.?
Pulling of writing a book set in the 1800
‘A School for Unusual Girls’ is a fiction story set in historical time. The year is 1814 and Napoleon has just been exiled to Elba. I’m usually not the first to yell the answer in history class, but in some way everything about the story being set 200 years back in time made me love it even more.
It was a bit funny that here I was reading a book, about a girl who has to make an invisible ink and a guy having to ride on horseback to transport himself, where I can just sent a text message and get into a car and drive. In some way history mixed with fiction is so exiting and intriguing, because you really start to understand how difficult everything was back then, compared to how easy everything is today.
Not another ‘instalove’ story
I am and will always be a huge sucker for love stories and the love story in ‘A School for Unusual Girls’ is no different. I just recently learned the term ‘instalove’ and I can definitely say, that the story between Georgie and Sebastian was not at all ‘instalove’.
When Georgie and Sebastian meet the first time, Georgie gets upset with Sebastian, because he questions what girls can and cannot do. This makes Georgiana upset, but even so you can still feel a tension between them. As a reader I also knew, that they were destined to be together, but I didn’t know when they’d be together, which made the story all that more interesting.
I got teased throughout the story, because I knew they’d end up together eventually and just as I thought I cracked the code, I soon found out, that I couldn’t be further away from the truth and ending. It was nice for a change not knowing and guessing what would happen, but actually be just as surprised as the characters in the book.
Not just a love story, but also about being yourself
As said the story isn’t just a love story between Georgie and Sebastian. It’s also about finding yourself and accepting who you are.
Throughout the story Georgiana changes in more than one way, she hasn’t had friends before and her mother has always thought of her as a mistake, because she isn’t what a 16 year old girl should be in that time. Therefor Georgiana has always felt different, but as she meets the other girls at Stranje House, she suddenly starts to feel accepted and she gets to know what it is like to have people liking her for who she is.
I couldn’t put the book down, I was spellbound!
Another interesting factor about the book was, that I had to get 50 pages in until I got fully hooked. This wasn’t because the book wasn’t good, it was simply because I needed to understand the writing and story.
Kathleen Baldwin made the book so authentic, which is what made it more difficult for me. The characters were talking in an old English, and as English isn’t my first language, it made it more difficult for me.
As I then got past the 50 pages, I began understanding better and I got more and more into the book. I had such a hard time putting it down that I was up every night reading until late, and I even brought the book with me to work, which I never do. It was like when I first started reading I escaped my 2015 bubble and entered my 1814 bubble where cellphones and cars didn’t exist.
Excerpt from ‘A School for Unusual Girls’
The captain’s stance stiffened, no longer tranquil, and if I were a sailor on his ship, I would be backing away. “I assure you, Emma has researched the matter thoroughly.” His tone was terse, full of command. “She’s been investigating the young lady for some time now. That is good enough for me.”
Open-mouthed, I sucked in air. Had someone been watching me? Investigating? No, surely not. They couldn’t be talking about me.
“Even so, she’s a mere girl. New to the school.” Sebastian crossed his arms. “What can she possibly know of chemistry and ink formulas? Chemistry requires an understanding of mathematics. In my experience, girls’ heads are full of fripperies and trinkets. Their weightiest calculations are deciding how many ruffles they want on their next ball gown.”
Fripperies? Ruffles? I curled my fingers around a decaying timber. What and arrogant jackanapes. I’d like to hit him over the head with a calculation or two.
With a shake of his head, the captain relaxed and said, “Careful, my boy. Never underestimate women. They’re dangerous. Apart from that, you know how selective Emma is about her young ladies. She only takes in the ones who…” He stopped and rubbed at the stubble on his cheek as if contemplating his next words.
Drat! What about the girls in this school? I balanced on the edge of the landing, barely able to keep from shouting at him, Yes, yes, go on. The ones who…?