Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Prudence by Gail Carriger

Prudence by Gail Carriger is the first in her new series, the Custard Protocol. It is about the daughter (and friends) of the main characters (and friends) in the Parasol Protectorate series. I had thought it was going to be YA, but it was not. With three out of four main character about 20 years old, I suppose you could call it New Adult if you were so inclined.

When Prudence Alessandra Maccon Akeldama (Rue to her friends) is given an unexpected dirigible, she does what any sensible female would under similar circumstances - names it the Spotted Custard and floats to India in pursuit of the perfect cup of tea. But India has more than just tea on offer. Rue stumbles upon a plot involving local dissidents, a kidnapped brigadier's wife, and some awfully familiar Scottish werewolves. Faced with a dire crisis and an embarrassing lack of bloomers, what else is a young lady of good breeding to do but turn metanatural and find out everyone's secrets, even thousand-year-old fuzzy ones?

I should say up front that I read this book entirely while jet-lagged. I started it on a second long-haul flight I had in a row, and finished it two cities later while still suffering from barely-awake-itis. This has almost certainly affected my enjoyment of it. I did enjoy it, to be clear, but I didn't find it as funny as Carriger's other books and I can't be sure how much of that is jet-lag-induced.

But anyway. Prudence is set about twenty years after the end of Timeless and is more or less about the children of the main characters in that series. There's Rue, Alexia's daughter, Prim, Ivy's daughter, and her twin brother Percy, and Quesnel Lefoux who was in the earlier books as a child. Rue is very much the most central character, with Prim coming in second and it's all told (in third person) from Rue's point of view.

It was particularly strange and interesting to see how Rue related to the older characters from previous books. From reading the Parasol Protectorate series, I feel quite familiar with Rue's parents (all three of them) but her attitudes towards them are very different from my own. I hadn't thought about it before I started reading, but the way she sees her mother is very different to how we as readers have seen her. And then there's the weirdness of her calling Lord Akeldama "Dama" and Biffy "Uncle Rabiffano". Not to mention her complete lack of angst at what happened to Biffy twenty years earlier, which Biffy, at least, is clearly not entirely over. So it was weird, but in the good author-has-thought-this-through way.

I've talked about how my reading of the earlier books has influenced my reading of Prudence, but I should emphasise that you absolutely do not need to have read any other Gail Carriger books before picking this one up. I think you'll get more out of it if you have, but it's certainly not necessary for making sense of continuity. There are just some hints to past events which, where relevant, will obviously come to the fore in the fullness of time and sequels and in the meantime there's a lot to guess at for both new and returning readers.

If you're not familiar with Gail Carriger's work, Prudence is a reasonable place to start, being the first book of a series. If you have read and enjoyed any of Carriger's books in the past, then what are you waiting for? Definitely pick up Prudence for a new take on the same world, later in time.

4.5 / 5 stars

First published: March 2015, Orbit
Series: The Custard Protocol book 1 of ?
Format read: ePub
Source: purchased from Google Play

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