I was interested in A School for Unusual Girls from the moment that I first read about it on Goodreads. I immediately made a request at the library, and was thrilled when it arrived a few days later. This young adult novel was written by Kathleen Baldwin.
Miss Georgiana is a clever girl. In fact, she is deemed to be more clever than a girl ought to be in Regency England. She wins all the card games she plays because she counts the cards, and she once injured her arm jumping out of a window to see if she could replicate Da Vinci’s flying wings. But the last straw occurs when she sets fire to her father’s stables. It was an accident, of course; Georgie was trying to make an invisible ink, but she is packed off and sent to Stranje House. The headmistress, Miss Stranje, has a reputation of being able to tame her unruly charges, transforming them into model students, poised to take their place in Proper Society. The school is rumored to use ruthless discipline to achieve their end goal, and poor Georgie is terrified and wants no part of this new reality.
Her fears are unfounded, as she quickly realizes that she has been brought to the school to perfect her invisible ink. The year is 1814, and although Napoleon has been exiled, there are rumbles that he is trying to make a return. The English army needs an invisible ink to prevent important messages from being intercepted by enemies of the crown.
Georgie is paired with a young lord as a laboratory assistant, and tasked with making her invisible ink a reality. Lord Sebastian is quite handsome; Georgie has never had much to do with the nonsense of falling in love, and doesn’t have any plans to start.
A School for Unusual Girls was a delightful book. I have always loved the Regency period, and Baldwin provides a rich and detailed historical setting. Likewise, Baldwin provides us with a lively heroine and an ensemble of equally clever girls, each of whom has a special talent and her own reason of being at this special school. The pacing is just perfect- there is enough intrigue to keep the reader interested, but there are also some delightful interactions between the girls and some of the male characters.
The end of the book features some discussion questions/activities. These are aligned with Common Core Standards, and can enhance the reading experience for classroom use/homeschooling.
I would absolutely recommend A School for Unusual Girls. Baldwin’s writing style is engaging, and draws the reader into the story. It cannot be denied that Stranje House is unorthodox, but it is heartwarming to see Georgie find a place where she could thrive and where her formidable talents would be appreciated. I am certainly looking forward to the next entry in the series!