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A School for Unusual Girls
by Kathleen Baldwin
Tor Teen, $17.99, 352 pp
Published: May 2015

Georgie was born into 19th-century London aristocracy.  With the gifts of intelligence, curiosity, an analytical mind, a talent for science and math, and exemplary skill at card counting, Georgie could have a very bright future.  The problem? Miss Georgina Fitzwilliam is a girl.

By the time she was 16, she’d been thrown out of high-society’s parties for always beating the eligible young men at cards and broke her arm by flying into a tree while attempting (and succeeding) to recreate Da Vinci’s wings.  But the final straw – burning down her father’s stables and an adjacent orchard while trying to perfect invisible ink – got her exiled to Stranje House to be reformed into a marriageable and unexceptional girl. 

Stranje House, a School for Unusual Girls, is one of Regency England’s dark secrets.  With its torture chamber and grim Headmistress Emma Stranje, it is the dumping ground for society girls who don’t fit the mold and won’t follow the model set for them by society and their parents. 

But, Stranje House is, in fact, not as it initially seems. 

Unruly, insecure Georgie (who hates her wild red hair, despises ruffles and dresses, and promises to never marry) is transformed into a beautiful, strong, confident woman, but not into the “marriageable miss” her parents expect.  Her unusual skills and talents are developed; her research is encouraged.  She learns new skills, but not of the variety expected (of girls) in war-torn Europe, and is educated in international affairs.  Georgie learns to work together with Miss Stranje and the other unusual girl students.  When she, Tess, Jane, Sera, and Maya team up with Captain Grey and Lord Wyatt, sparks fly and history is changed. 

Georgina tells the story in A School for Unusual Girls, the first in A Stranje House series of “alternate history” novels.  I learned from the “sneak peak” at the back of the book, that each book will be told by a different girl from the school.    I thoroughly enjoyed the mix of historical facts and real people with the fictional characters and outcomes.  I’m passing this one on to my granddaughter.  ~~ Marie Davis

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