A School for Brides: A Story of Maidens, Mystery, and Matrimony

272p. ebook available. Viking. Jul. 2015. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780670786084.
RedReviewStarGr 7 Up—Fairly exploding with intrigue, nefarious governesses, secret suitors, and marriage plots galore, this follow-up to Kindl's well-received Keeping the Castle (Viking, 2012) isn't a Regency romp but a roller-coaster. The book shares a setting with its companion novel but focuses on the girls of Winthrop Hopkins Female Academy, a school for young ladies aspiring to marry. However, fans of the original title will be cheered at brief glimpses of Althea (now Mrs. Fredericks), whose niece is a student at the academy. The girls of Winthrop would be the first to point out that the marital prospects in Lesser Hoo are most unsuitable—that is, until a traveling young man with a broken leg turns up. Soon Lesser Hoo is buzzing with visitors, some of whom wear out their welcome faster than others. The novel boasts a plethora of characters (eight students, three headmistresses, and a bevy of suitors, among others), and keeping all of them and their various exploits and adventures straight may prove daunting for some. While the strength of Keeping the Castle was its Lizzie Bennett-esque protagonist Althea, the draw of this wonderfully over-the-top send-up of the genre is its humor; indeed, the dialogue will have Downtown Abbey creator Julian Fellowes enviously cribbing notes. The author once again displays an intuitive understanding of upper-crust English society and a masterly ability to play with well-established genre conventions and types.
VERDICT An enchanting addition, sure to charm Jane Austen lovers and those who live for the next big Downton Abbey reveal.

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