It is time for the event of the season – the Dunsmuirs are holding a party to celebrate Claire and Andrew’s marriage and everyone who is everyone will be invited to take part.
Of course that includes Claire’s best friend Alice and her fiancé Ian. And Alice is beginning to realise what it means to be marriage to a British noble – and while she loves him, she’s having second thoughts about everything that comes with him
Gloria Meriwether-Astor’s cousins also arrive and, of course, get an invite – but in the process the tensions in the family and in Gloria’s family business come to light
This is a short story, and pretty much an ideal example of one for me.
The plot is fun and works so well with the rest of the world. I don’t think you will need to read this book to transition from the last book to Gloria’s adventures in the next novel. But by reading this it nicely will fill in a lot of gaps and really set up the next chapter. We’ve been introduced to the new principle characters and the details of the conflict. It’s a truly excellent prologue that really tells us why all the characters are there and what they are doing and their goals.
The next book can launch right into the story because everything has been excellently established without the need to make it essential. For me this is exactly what a short story needs to do – add richness to the world and characters without making them an essential component.
It also does this through a fun little story. It’s not super-dramatic and it’s certainly not action packed. But that’s a good thing – Claire et al seem to spend so much of their life in peril and action that this is an excellent change of pace. Why not just have a party? Let’s see these characters living together, dealing with something relatively mundane together – it’s lighter and fun because of it.
It also has some very nice challenges and examination of sexism of the era. There’s the obvious – all of the women are planning their own lives. Even better, they’re all planning different lives, different paths – because there’s more than one way for a woman to live and be strong and express her agency.
There are some excellent call outs – Alice fighting fiercely and courageously against the idea that she cannot captain her own airship. This is the kind of thing I’d expect on most female led steampunks at this point.