Blameless: The Parasol Protectorate by Gail Carriger

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Blameless: The Parasol Protectorate by Gail Carriger

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Category: Fantasy
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Louise Laurie
Reviewed by Louise Laurie
Summary: This is the third book in The Parasol Protectorate trilogy featuring its heroine Alexia Tarabotti. Alexia sees some disturbing and startling developments in her life; her exasperatingly 'inconvenient' condition for one thing - blast it, the health issues of her husband and oh - death threats against her from unknown sources.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 320 Date: September 2010
Publisher: Orbit
ISBN: 978-1841499734

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Blameless opens with Alexia back in the family home. She hopes that this is a temporary situation. Not to put too fine a point on it, she has absolutely nothing in common with her parents or her silly half-sisters. Her mother is outraged. Why? Well, because no married woman in proper Victorian society leaves her husband. It's simply not done. Alexia's just done it and would probably say to her mama that she couldn't give a rat's arse either - except her mother would no doubt have a fainting fit. But scandal is looming. And Alexia is forced at some point to re-assess her situation. Underneath all those ridiculous ruffles and lace she is a little put-out and concerned - especially in her present condition.

And Carriger delights us with her witty and (for the most part) utterly ridiculous characters and their various vapid conversations. Hats and eyebrows, marmalade and cravats are all given over to serious thought at various points in the novel. And I'm pleased to say that Alexia has lost none of her sparkle, none of her sparring dialogue. For example, when she discovers that the engagement of one of her sisters has recently been broken off due to ahem - philosophical differences Alexia is quick to retort That cannot be true. You don't actually have a philosophy about anything, do you, Evelin dear? And the rest of this conversation around the breakfast table runs along similar lines. It made me smile and sometimes laugh out loud.

Alexia's inconvenient condition is causing stress and headaches. In desperation she leaves the bosom of her ineffectual family for an altogether more interesting domestic arrangement. But he's not at home either. What's a girl to do? She gathers up a few trustworthy members of her household staff - and disappears ... to Italy.

And back home the reader is informed of and given all the gory details of Lord Maccon's slight er, downfall. Is he coping without his admirable wife by his side? All is revealed blow by blow. I felt that in this final book Carriger seems to want to go out with a bang. And why not. But, at times, I felt that some of the action, especially in the middle part of the book, was just too fantasy-like. The other two books were more subtle which I personally appreciated. Show, don't tell and all of that ... So I didn't engage fully with these parts. But then, next chapter and some character or other is charming the pants off me (in as manner of speaking) so all was well. There are so many delightful and original lines and sentences scattered about that it's not easy to select just one or two. However, one I did like was Alexia found herself surrounded and embraced by a room of such unmitigated welcome and personality that it was akin to being yelled at by plum pudding.

Some of my favourite characters make a welcome re-appearance in Blameless but I did miss Ivy and Lord Maccon who both 'disappeared' throughout large chunks of this book. Personally, I wasn't entirely taken with the European element and where much of the action took place. I much prefer the gloomy, damp streets of London - more atmospheric for this type of novel. And of course, werewolves, vampires and the like aplenty and going about their business.

Many adventures later, all falls neatly into place. I'm always gunning for the wonderful Alexia and I was delighted with the final outcome. Atta girl. I'd like to say that this is up there with the other two in the series, but not quite for me. The least favourite of the trilogy, I'm afraid as far as I'm concerned. But finishing on a plus side Carriger has cleverly left the story on a bit of a cliff-hanger. So I ask the question, is this the last of Alexia? Recommended.

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to The Bookbag.

If this book appeals then why not try Maskerade by Terry Pratchett.

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