Tagged Gail Carriger Recommends

The Great Emma-Off Austen Award Show! (Miss Carriger Recommends)

Posted by Gail Carriger

So, once upon a time I got very sick and watched 4 different adaptations of Pride & Prejudice. With a new adaptation of Emma, I though I would do this again (without the sick part, I promise).

Great Emma Watch Along Austen

Emma & Me

For me, one of the most significant things about Emma is Austen’s portrayal of female friendship in a dispirit power dynamic. (Austen’s other books mostly show familial sisterhoods and/or negative female interactions.)

Not only is Emma in a superior social position to Harriet, she has the dominant personality, and she thinks she knows best. How gently (and with what sophistication) this is handled by a movie is, for me, key to this book and our feelings towards Emma. It is Emma’s behavior towards Harriet (not Miss Bates, because in that scene Emma will always look bad) which defines Emma as a decent human. If this dynamic isn’t handled well, Emma looks not just like a spoiled waspish brat, but also manipulative and somewhat cruel.

To a certain extent, the Mr Knightly romance takes second fiddle to this female friendship. He is a fixture, part of the furniture. Not particularly exciting. By modern romance standards, it is Harriet and Emma I look to for the true emotional weight of this story.

Emma is not my favorite of Austen’s books, although it contains many of my favorite tropes (May/December, Friends to Lovers, Pining Males). Nevertheless, I still have QUITE DECIDED OPINIONS on the various adaptations and so I am going to give out awards to my favorites. As is custom, I chose 4 adaptations to watch…

3 Emma Movies Austen

The Movies In Brief

1996 Gwyneth’s Emma

Emma staring Gwyneth Paltrow opposite Jeremy Northam is like the two popular but still nice kids from your high school getting together. You’re like, yeah, that’s fine, of course they’re homecoming king and queen, but do I care that much?

Emma Gwyneth Jeramy

What I like?

OK I actually don’t mind Gwynnie in this role. I don’t love her, but I don’t mind her. I mind her accent tho, ugh. That said, she kinda is Hollywood Emma, if you think about it. I enjoy seeing her friendly relationships with family and Mrs Weston. Of course I love Mr and Mrs Elton. Miss Bates is great, but a bit cartoonish for me. All around this adaptation wins point for side characters.

Collette is my favorite Harriet (although she is far too old for the role) outshining Emma with a proper British accent. Their friendship is almost sweet. While not equal, it’s better balanced than some of the others. Harriet has a bit of manipulative avarice to her, which I like a lot, while Emma is more gentle and kind.

What I didn’t like?

There is little to no chemistry between the leads. Mr Wodehouse is dull as doornails. I cannot stand Ewan McGregor as Frank Churchill. I just can’t. The family dynamic isn’t as clearly portrayed as in some of the other adaptations. Emma’s hair is way too tight and pulled back and weirdly strict for her character.

It’s rather dark in filming and setting, I didn’t get England in the way that I got it from the 1997 adaptation. Some of the costumes look a bit cheap in fabric and construction, less authentically historical and more stage costume-esque.

All round this had my favorite secondary characters, best general casting, script is fine if a bit too modern.

1997 Kate’s Emma

Emma staring Kate Beckinsale opposite Mark Strong in a made for UK TV movie. Is Emma blonde in the books? I can’t remember if she’s described at all. Does it matter? I see her as blonde, so does everyone else, but I also LOVE Kate. Mark Strong is frankly, un-memorable, but at least there’s a decent age difference.

Emma Kate Mark Movie

What I like?

Emma is very cheeky, and there is chemistry between her and Mr Knightly. Miss Bates is ON point, exactly as described in the book. Emma and Harriet’s relationship is fine. Emma is shown to be romantic in her dreams for Harriet, and in having Harriet’s best interests at heart. The family scenes are fun and Mrs Weston actually has a personality, which I enjoy. Also, I like the actress who plays Jane Fairfax very much as well (she’d go on to portray Jane Austen herself, eventually).

I like the sense of place and got a real feel for the seasons changing in this one.

What I didn’t like?

Harriet is quite insipid, portrayed by the wonderful Samantha Morton (who would go on to become my favorite Jane Eyre). But in this I don’t think her approach suits the character. I see Harriet as more robust. Mr Elton is too repulsive. Frank Churchill is my ideal Lord Akeldama, and as a result I can’t see this actor as anything but very gay.

Many of the characters are rather fussy. I think this is honest to Austen in that she’s showing how small town moneyed life can lead intelligence towards eccentricity and minutia. But it makes some of the group scenes tiresome to watch.

All round this is a good basic adaptation with one of my preferred more relaxed scripts but falls short on casting.

2009 Romola’s Emma

Emma miniseries staring Romola Garai opposite Jonny Lee Miller. I adore both these actors and I like seeing a longer adaptation with Austen as a rule, although I’m not sure Emma needs it in the way Pride & Prejudice does. And, up front, there just isn’t enough of an age gap in the leads.

Emma Romola Jonny

What I like?

I maintain that is the most accurate to the book, the characters (as written therein) and setting. I like the gloomy lighting, very England during the 1820s. Emma comes off as very young. Her flaws stem from her youth and lack of worldly experience, rather than being truly a spoiled bitch. She’s sweet to her friends and family and comes off as a little lonely, looking for a true friend in Harriet. I like the comparison between Emma, Frank, and Jane. The Mr Knightly relationship is the most sibling-ish and true to the original story, and I like seeing the Knightly brothers relationship in depth.

What I didn’t like?

The hair is a bit too soft and pretty. Emma is a bit petulant and there isn’t much chemistry between the leads, sibling affection but nothing sexy. Mr Wodehouse is Dumbledore, which now seems odd to hear (if not see). Harriet isn’t my favorite although Emma is awfully sweet with her. The voice-over should have been female but either way is hugely unnecessary. The whole thing is slow in places.

All round this has my favorite leads, least favorite side characters, and the script has pacing issues.

2020 Anya’s Emma

Emma movie starring Anya Taylor-Joy opposite Johnny Flynn (who is far TOO YOUNG for the role). The filming and costumes and hair are really wonderful ~ super saturated sherbet colors, like Pushing Daisies. This is a very romantic adaptation. It is to Emma what the Kiera Knightly version of Pride & Prejudice is to that oeuvre.

Emma Anya Johnny Movie

What I like?

I really didn’t see Johnny as Mr Knightly but the chemistry between him and Anya is there by the end. Definitely the best kiss. There is an epic amount of side eye and shade being thrown and the chemistry between Frank and Jane is palpable. I loved how earnest the film was about showing staff. Mr Wodehouse’s constant footmen ballet was truly glorious. The conversation at dinner was very much weary country gentry, and I got a great small town vibe. Mr Martin is the most pineingest white boy to ever pine. Nice to see Harriet get a  kiss too, although Lilliput didn’t approve.

Emma Watch Along Tea Popcorn Lilliput Harriet Kiss Teacup

What I didn’t like? 

This is going to make me unpopular but I don’t love Anya’s acting. The crying scene was like watching an alien who’d never cried before try to do what she thought human crying looked like. Mr Elton got overly angry. Occasionally (like him yelling and her loud sobs) the whole movie broke period drama tone way too much. Was the nose bleed necessary? You know what, no. It wasn’t.

Emma Juliet Stevenson Mrs Elton Shocking Lack Of Satin

Also, and “I do not profess to be an expert in the field of fashion (though my friends say I have quite the eye) but I can tell you,” there was a shocking lack of gloves!

All round this had some of my favorite minor characters, least favorite leads, and I thought the script a bit overworked with the director relying on silence to carry the film.


Character Portrayal

  • Best Mr Martin: 2020 Connor Swindells, PINE, WHITE BOY, PINE!
  • Best Miss Bates: 1997 Prunella Scales
  • Best Frank Churchill: 2020 Callum Turner
  • Best Jane Fairfax: 1997 Olivia Williams
  • Best Mr Wodehouse: 2020 Bill Nighy OF COURSE
  • Best Mr Weston: 2020 Rupert Graves, no contest. Freddy my love! So happy to see him, and so jovial.
  • Best Mrs Weston: 2009 Jodhi May, one of my favorite actresses from Tipping the Velvet
  • Best Mrs Elton: 1996 Juliet Stevenson (also my ideal Sidheag)
  • Best Mr Elton: 1996 Alan Cumming, THERE CAN BE NO OTHER
  • Best Harriet: 1996 Toni Collette, nash
  • Best Mr Knightly: 2009 Jonny Lee Miller, I was tempted by the other Johnny and his edginess, but in the end I went traditional
  • Best Emma: 2009 Romola Garai, I just like her best

Honorable mention to Bartholomew and Charles, the ballet-like footmen and their many fire screens in the 2020 version.

All Round

  • Most Romantic: 2020
  • Most Comforting: 1996 for Alan Cumming, Toni Collette, & Juliet Stevenson
  • Closest to the Book, Best Adaptation: 2009

So, you are welcome to disagree with me and I would love to debate such a serious matter, but I insist on you having seen them all and read the book! Well informed debate only. Wha ha ha!

Other Adaptations of Note

1972 Emma BBC

1972 Doran’s Emma

This a six-part BBC miniseries, starring Doran Godwin as Emma, was available to rent on VHS from the library when I was in high school and I saw it then. I had no inclination to rewatch now, as I remember very much NOT liking it. That could have been my general dislike of Emma, though.

Like all the BBC 1970s adaptations, it’s very much a stage play on screen. It’s likely quite honest to the book. However, the leads were both far too old and there’s a good deal too much chewing the scenery from the side characters.

Here’s a more thoughtful review than mine. 


1995 Clueless

Clueless is a modernization of Emma set in a Beverly Hills high school. The film was directed by Amy Heckerling and stars Alicia Silverstone and (noted vampire immortal) Paul Rudd.

Honestly this is my favorite Emma.

Bite me.

Only if you’re Paul Rudd, though. For obvs reasons.

What’s weird is how few other Emma adaptations there are (especially when compared to Pride & Prejudice). Honestly, she comes across, to me, as the most modern character Austen ever wrote.

Must ponder further,

Miss Gail

Other blog posts in this series?

The Great Pride & Prejudice Award Show! (Miss Carriger Recommends)


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Defy or Defend, a new Delightfully Deadly book featuring Dimity!

Defy or Defend by Gail Carriger Free Download


Dimity, London’s cheerfullest spy, must fix a broken vampire hive while a gentle soldier tries to keep her safe. A charming makeover story set in the popular Parasolverse.

It’s a battle for survival… and wallpaper!

Gail’s Daily Tea Party

Tisane of Nifty 

Gail Carriger Teacup Tea Tray Blue Purple Flower Dress White Cardy Turban

Writerly Tincture 

Gail Carriger Tweet Kids Do Reviews

Book Nibble 

The Need for A Bechdel Test for Books and Why I think that Gail Carriger’s PARASOL PROTECTORATE Series Would Still Pass: A Women’s+ Canon Month Article by Cori Domschot

Quote to Sip 

Quote Changeless Fish Tunstell

Books That Make Me Happy (Miss Carriger Recommends Comfort Reads)

Posted by Gail Carriger

By special request, Gentle Reader, here’s a curated list of my favorite feel-good books!

What Would Gail Carriger Read For Comfort

These are books I go to for comfort and they always leave me feeling happy. I sorted them using my own books as ciphers. So you can scan through for your favorite of mine and pick accordingly.

I also added a few things to watch in there, in case you really just need to veg TF out.

Books That Make Me Feel Better

If you love the Parasol Protectorate series:

Ridiculous! by D.L. Carter
Hilarious cross-dressing regency romance. Fall in love with Mr North, I did. (Amazon only)

Sorcery & Cecelia by Wrede & Stevermer
If you are a fan of my books and haven’t read this wonderful gaslight double shot regency romance, honestly I have no idea what you’re doing with your life.

Goodreads has a list of other people’s suggestions of “Book like the Parasol Protectorate series” which you can add too, if you like. (I’m rather honored that I rank a list all my own, thank you Goodreads!)

Watch? The Extraordinary Adventures of Adele Blanc Sec or anything from this list: 13 Quirky Lesser Known Movies Gail Carriger Loves 

If you love the Finishing School series:

Dealing with Dragons by Patricia Wrede
The princess and the dragon become BFFs. Suitable for a wide range of ages.

Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones
Possibly the tightest best stand alone novel ever written. And one of the few where the movie is as good as the book, it’s very different but still excellent.

Watch? The movie version of Howl’s, Spirited Away, The Worst Witch, DEBS, Bend it Like Beckham.

Howl's Moving Castle Jones

If you love the Custard Protocol series:

Newt’s Emerald by Garth Nix
In regency times, Newt must track down a missing emerald. As it is much easier to get around alone as a mustache-wearing man, so Newt dons the mustache with gusto.

The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune
If what you really want is a seriously heavy dose or found family? This is your book.

The House in the Cerulean Sea

Watch? Leverage, Killjoys, Firefly.

If you love How to Marry a Werewolf or Poison or Protect:

Warprize by Elizabeth Vaughan
Culture conflict between an invading nomadic army and a settled alt medieval land. A woman who knows how to heal. You think it’s going to be every romance trope in the book, it defies every single one of them.

Courting Magic by Stephanie Burgis
Magic and romance in regency London, plus dress pins… lots of dress pins.

Courting Magic by Stephanie Burgis

Watch? Cold Comfort Farm, Gosford Park

If you love Romancing the Inventor:

Ambereye by Gill McKnight
Moody werewolf boss meets her match in the form of bossy human PA. The two go home to meet the pack for the holidays. Everyone assumes they are mates.

Watch? Tipping the Velvet

If you love Romancing the Werewolf:

A Minor Inconvenience by Sarah Granger
A solid upright soldier returns home from war, falls in love with a male spy.

Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K. Jerome
One of the world funniest books, it isn’t strictly gay… although it really also is.

Watch? Maurice, Jeeves & Wooster

If you love the San Andreas Shifters series:

The Lightning-Struck Heart by T.J. Klune
The funniest piece of gay fantasy ever written, and likely the funniest that ever will be written.

Loving Jay by Renae Kaye
If you love Max, Lord Akeldama, and Marvin you with absolutely adore Jay, as does big bumbling Liam, who thought he was straight. (Amazon and Audible only)

A Villain for Christmas by Alice Winters
Would you like your gay romance with a does of snarky super villain? Of course you would. (Amazon only)

Here are more from me if you love the San Andreas Boys…

9 Books That You’ll Love If You Enjoy Gail’s San Andreas Shifter series (Miss Carriger Recommends)

Watch? Love, Simon, Latter Days, anything from this list: 8 Queer Romantic Comedy Movies That Gail Carriger Loves 

If you love 5th Gender:

Paradox series (3 books) by Rachel Bach
High action and lots of fun in epic space battles, fast paced and tight with a nice little het romance.

Earth Fathers Are Weird by Lyn Gala
Human military dude accidentally becomes surrogate for tentacle alien children. All the feels. Found family, adorable squidies. Gah. So cute. Her Claimings series is also brilliant.

Here are more from me if you love the 5th Gender

Similar to The 5th Gender, Gail Suggests More Queer SciFi (Miss Carriger Recommends)

Watch? Men in Black, erm?

Other Delightful Reads

I just love these books SO MUCH. I reread them regularly just because they make me so happy.

One Night at Finn’s by RG Alexander
Hilarious advice columnist meets marine. (Amazon only.)

Granddad’s Cup of Tea by Amy Rae Durreson
Bisexual grandpa finds love with the neighbor at the top of the hill, over daily cups of tea.

A Fool and His Manny by Amy Lane
Eldest son is all grown up, meets up again with ex-nanny. It manages to not be incestuous at all, mostly because the poor manny has no idea what is going on. Gah, so achingly sweet.

9 Favorite Queer Fantasy Books (Miss Carriger Recommends)

For the Littles…

King Bidgood’s in the Bathtub by Audrey Wood
Picture book I grew up with. It’s charming and amazingly well drawn.

Walking Your Octopus: A Guidebook to the Domesticated Cephalopod by Brian Kesinger
It is what it says, amazing images and a few words about a forthright young steampunk lady and her precocious pet octopus. There is also an adorable coloring book of these characters. So very me-ish in every way.

6 of Gail Carriger’s Favorite Children’s Books (Miss Carriger Recommends)

As always, you don’t have to take my word for it. Here’s more rec lists:

What do you read or watch that makes you happy? Any suggestions?

Why We Need Queer Escapist Lit from The Lesbrary

Yours (destined to be killed by a tumbling TBR pile),

Miss Gail

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  • Not into newsletters? Get only new releases by following Gail on Amazon or BookBub!


Defy or Defend, a new Delightfully Deadly book featuring Dimity!

Defy or Defend by Gail Carriger Free Download

Your Vendor of Choice!

Dimity, London’s cheerfullest spy, must fix a broken vampire hive while a gentle soldier tries to keep her safe. A charming makeover story set in the popular Parasolverse.

It’s a battle for survival… and wallpaper!

Gail’s Daily Tea Party

Tisane of Nifty 

Lilliput Cate Cute Seat Sunbeam Paws

Writerly Tincture 

Why I Always Read the Acknowledgement

Book Nibble 

How to Marry a Werewolf Gail Carriger HTMAW cake strawberry huge

MI Book Reviews says:

“The book still has a wonderful and warm and calm ending, which these characters absolutely deserved. How to Marry a Werewolf is an emotional journey that I found incredibly rewarding and is probably one of my favourite books by this author.”

Quote to Sip 

Quote Author Kill Characters Gail Carriger

10 Random Things Making Me Happy Right Now (Miss Carriger Recommends)

Posted by Gail Carriger

I’ve concocted a list of 10 things that make me happy and might help you. Many of them are free (or I offer free alternatives).

Stuff to Cheer You Up Gail Carriger

Over on the Parasol Protectorate Group, Gentle Reader, I put a Chirrup Special to the vote.

Next Chirrup Poll

As you can see: stuff making me happy narrowly lost out to books making me happy. So I thought I’d do a blog post of the stuff, while sending the Chirrup the books. (That sentence makes sense in someone’s universe.)

Simply put, here’s shizz to cheer you up!

Disclaimer: It works on me. Might not work on you, but I’m not in your head, so how can I judge?

Ayako & Family Jam


Ayako & Family Jam
A darling friend gifted me with a box. The hanabi plum blew my tiny mind. The AB actually declared it “almost as good as my mother’s jam.” Which, let me tell you, is VERY high praise. They are a Seattle operation who survive at farmer’s markets, so your support right now would be most welcome. (I intend to try every single one of their plum flavors.) They have a sampler gift set, too.

FREE options?

I tried this chicken marsala recipe recently
It was tasty and easy. It’s one of the few that doesn’t require cream and is better spiced than my experience with this dish. I added onions along with the mushrooms and used Chianti instead of Marsala and it was delish. Also we don’t eat salt, so I added a little mustard and reduced balsamic glaze to finish. This recipe would work with firm tofu (I’d not dredge it but sear in soy sauce first). Next time I’m going to try it with dark meat chicken and half the butter.

Take Free Cooking Classes With Michelin Star Chef Massimo Bottura

I also recommend this excellent blog: Nom Nom Paleo. (I’m not paleo but some of these are so good I just add lots of veg). Her Indian lamb curry recipe is probably one of our favorite dishes. More…

Gail’s Favorite Recipes to Cook & Bake (Miss Carriger Recommends)


Sex Education on Netflix.
This show is a work of true genius, it’s charming and funny and warm and honest while also managing to be this strange fantasy alternate high school experience. Don’t be put off by the title, it’s not super sexy, and it’s not super camp high school drama, either. It’s something truly special.

FREE options?

Check out my YouTube Channel for not just my own Live Q&A sessions, but lots of lists with fun videos that I love, so you might too. 

For example, here’s Alan Cumming singing Taylor the Latte Boy 


Coconut Milk Body Scrub with Exfoliating Gloves.
My favorite Fiji scrub seems to be no more, so I tried a new coconut scrub. It’s salt based (I prefer sugar, doesn’t sting after shaving). I was skeptical of the weird “scrub gloves” that came with. Well I loved it. Particularly the weird gloves. Who knew? (If you don’t like coconut I also love Giovanni Hot Chocolate Sugar Body Scrub.) 

Certain persons have been trying to get me to try Poshmark for AGES. In desperate need of replacement flats I went on to see if maybe someone was selling my old favorites there, the Mia Nomad. And lo there they were. So exciting. I got two pairs, and some Miz Mooz flats and a cute teal cashmere cardigan. The sweater has arrived and I LOVE it. On the other hand, one of the the flats got cancelled on me. I might have liked a ton more but I am trying to be good.

I recommend using Poshmark to buy replacement items for items/brands you already know you love/fit. Since there is basically no return. 

FREE options?

In line with above, I’ve been playing dress up in my own wardrobe. Using this as an opportunity to go through and clean out, but also just to look pretty and swish about the house in a cape. Why not?

Also, you can always SELL on Poshmark, if you have the time and goods to list.


Octopus Hanger Clothes Dryer

Practical Joy

Octopus Hanging Dryer
I hang dry my clothing. I don’t believe in dryers except for sheets and towels. I have two of these Octopus hangers for, as grandma would call them “my smalls.” They work great and are awesome space savers.  

The perfect phone tripod
UBeesize 51″ Extendable Tripod Stand, heavy duty aluminum, lightweight, and so much more stable and easy to use than my old one. I’ve been using this for Lives, Zoom, and Hangouts.

FREE options?

If you’re home schooling may I remind you that you can get the educator’s guide for the Finishing School from me for free. A lot of other education/workbook authors offer PDFs via their websites. PDFs you can print out at home.

Virtual Interactions

The Popster on Facetime
I taught my 80+ year old popster how to Facetime. Well, to be fair, I was freaking out because I couldn’t get hold of him. Tried calling him the regular way, no answer. Desperate, I tried Facetime. He picked it up because it was something new and confusing. I have never seen someone so joyful about something so simple in a long long time. “You’re right there, in the palm of my hand!” It was charming.

The Mum on Hangouts
Guided her via a landline. Finally connected her to Hangouts, but could only see the top of her head.

Gail: Mum, tilt the phone.
Mum’s hand comes into view holding the land line above her head.
Gail: The CELL phone, Mum.

Skype with Friends
I’ve been doing Skype or Zoom “write ins” with some of my author friends and others trapped at home. It’s almost as good as the real thing.

Bonus – Quick Picks from Previous Posts

Here’s a few things that I have mentioned before that might help you survive self isolation or quarantine.

Upbeat, Funny, Escapist Podcasts (all FREE)

  • All Fantasy Everything
  • Ask Me Another
  • Doughboys
  • Go Fact Yourself
  • Judge John Hodgman
  • No Such Thing As A Fish
  • Pop Culture Happy Hour
  • Rule of Three
  • Troubled Waters
  • Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me

Some of these might not have new episodes right now, but the back eps are great!

Sunflower Accent Pillow 

Pretty-up your environment

Check out more on my Writer Wants & Education Pinterest Board

Gail Carriger Pink Deco Waist cinch Tea

Treat yourself

Take care of your body

I hope some of these things help!

Incidentally, from LifeHacker:

Take care of yourselves,

Miss Gail

  • Want updates of things making me happy? Chirrup members get them monthly, because I love them bestest. Sign up here.
  • Not into newsletters? Get only new releases by following Gail on Amazon or BookBub!


Defy or Defend, a new Delightfully Deadly book featuring Dimity!

Defy or Defend by Gail Carriger Free Download


Dimity, London’s cheerfullest spy, must fix a broken vampire hive while a gentle soldier tries to keep her safe. A charming makeover story set in the popular Parasolverse.

It’s a battle for survival… and wallpaper!

Upcoming Scribbles?

Gail’s Daily Tea Party

Tisane of Nifty Office sitting area and teacup collection

My office, in isolation…

Writerly Tincture 

5 Memorable Library Heists

Book Nibble 

Five SFF Books With Dogs (and Dog-Adjacent Individuals) as Key Characters – Bumbersnoot made this list

Quote to Sip 

Quote Changless Ivy Exclamation Marks Gail Carriger

10 Graphic Novels You’ll Enjoy if You Loved Soulless (the Manga)

Posted by Gail Carriger

So you’re a graphic novel or a manga reader and you want more like Soulless the Manga? I got you covered!

Soulless Manga Other Graphic Novels Suggested

Graphic Novels & Manga for YOU!

Black Butler

Black Butler by Yana Toboso

The manga that, for me, started it all. The art and the costumes are truly amazing and I feel, in this regard, that you can really see REM’s heritage. (REM is my manga artist.

Just a stone’s throw from London lies the manor house of the illustrious Phantomhive earldom, its master one Ciel Phantomhive. Earl Phantomhive is a giant in the world of commerce, Queen Victoria’s faithful servant . . . and a slip of a twelve-year old boy.

His butler is a demon. Or is he?

League of Extraordinary Gentlemen

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen by Alan Moore

Probably the square root of steampunk. Don’t blame the crappy movie on this book. The representation is poor and it’s pretty dark, but it was the beginning for many of us.

In this amazingly imaginative tale, literary figures from throughout time and various bodies of work are brought together to face any and all threats to Britain.

Invader ZIM by Jhonen Vasquez 

Invader ZIM by Jhonen Vasquez

My favorite cartoon of all time. What can you say about this level of stupid genius?

From the far reaches of weird space to the incomprehensible world of underground art, ZIM is back! And his thirst for world domination has only grown!

The Extraordinary Adventures of Adéle Blanc-Sec by Tardi 

The Extraordinary Adventures of Adéle Blanc-Sec by Tardi

Probably the thing on this list that is most similar to my own stuff in core spirit.

Both a rip-roaring adventure series set in pre-World War I Paris and a parody of the same, Adéle has been enchanting, thrilling, and puzzling readers worldwide through four decades.

Originally in French, there is a fantastic movie by the same name.

Bloodlust Bonnets

Bloodlust & Bonnets by Emily McGovern

Light weight and cute, and very very bloody.

Set in early nineteenth-century Britain, Bloodlust & Bonnets follows Lucy, an unworldly debutante who desires a life of passion and intrigue—qualities which earn her the attention of Lady Violet Travesty, the leader of a local vampire cult.

I Married My Best Friend to Shut My Parents Up by Kodama Naoko 

I Married My Best Friend to Shut My Parents Up by Kodama Naoko

The title says it all friends-to-lovers meets sham marriage tropes galore in this sweet lesbian friends to lovers manga. It’s rather weightless, but charming.

Morimoto, a young professional woman in Japan, wishes her parents would stop trying to get her to marry a man and settle down. Her friend from high school offers to be her wife in a sham marriage, to make Morimoto’s parents back off. But this fake marriage could unearth something very real.

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl by Erica Henderson

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl by Erica Henderson

Suitable for most ages this is just fun and breezy and charming. If you always wanted a powerful, body-positive, brassy, female role model, here she is, starting college and kicking butt.

The Bride Was a Boy by Chii 

The Bride Was a Boy by Chii

What I love most about this is that is tackles serious issues but with a profoundly gentle touch. It’s an almost memoir that manages to be entertaining, happy, and sweet but ALSO extremely informative. Highly recommended for those who might be questioning their own gender identity, but also family and friends of anyone transitioning who need a window towards understanding.

A diary comic with an upbeat, adorable flair that tells the charming tale of Chii, a woman assigned male at birth.

Rat Queens

Rat Queens by Kurtis J Wiebe

This comic is very bloody and violent but raucous good fun. What I enjoyed most was that this is LitPRG parody at it’s very very best. If you grew up reading Dragon Quest and the like (or playing it, for that matter) this is a hoot.

Who are the Rat Queens? A pack of booze-guzzling, death-dealing battle maidens-for-hire, and they’re in the business of killing all god’s creatures for profit.

Mooncakes by Suzanne Walker & Wendy Xu

Mooncakes by Suzanne Walker & Wendy Xu

Nova works in a bookstore but one night this young witch ventures into the woods and finds her childhood friend and crush, Tam, fighting against a demon.

Prince Dressmaker Jen Wang

The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang

A heartwarming historical option, set in Paris has beautiful, vivid, and colorful artwork and a charming yet important story-line for children or adults. So sweet and cute.

If you like the San Andreas Shifters…

Before I read m/m or gay romance, before I even thought about writing it, when everyone else was reading and writing slash and fanfic, I read yaoi. I cut my teeth, so to speak on Yuzuha Ougi.


Still some of the sexiest stuff out there, I dare you to try Brother. Brings new meaning to the word graphic.

And on that pun, I end this list!

As always you don’t have to take my word for it…

If you have more you’d like to suggest, particularly written by/featuring women, POC, and queer characters, please leave a comment! Please keep if fluffy and fun.

This blog post came about via a discussion in the Parasol Protectorate fan group, honestly, it is one of the best places to get book suggestions tailored to your specifications, especially if you love my stuff.

Yours (destined to be killed by a tumbling TBR pile),

Miss Gail

  • I will likely give away a select few of these books to Chirrup members in the future, because I love them bestest. Sign up here.
  • Not into newsletters? Get only new releases by following Gail on Amazon or BookBub!


Meat Cute: The Hedgehog Incident featuring Alexia & Conall’s first encounter!

Meat Cute The Hedgehog Incident Gail Carriger Free Download


In this short story Alexia Tarabotti attends what seems to be a dull London party, until the new werewolf Alpha turns up, is unconscionably rude to her, and sits on a hedgehog.

Upcoming Scribbles?

Gail’s Daily Tea Party

Tisane of Nifty 

Omg, look at the cuteness of this octopus page holder!

Octopus bookmark page holder blue turquoise

Writerly Tincture 

How I feel about the different social media platforms as an author:

Social Media Photo Meme

Book Nibble 

This is a Wardian Fern Case, the stile I uses as a basis for my Lefoux Preservation tanks, which feature heavily in the Custard Protocol series.

Wardian Fern Case Basis for Lefoux Preservation Tanks Gail Carriger

Quote to Sip 

Giddy Biscuit Wooster Wodehouse

12 Joyful Book Picks: Fictional Hangover Book Challenge

Posted by Gail Carriger

As some of you may know, Gentle Reader, I often pick a monthly book challenge to follow for the year.

I did Book Riot’s last year, this year I chose Fictional Hangover’s!

Here’s the challenge:

Fictional Hangover 2020 Reading Challenge

(You can join their Goodreads Group to participate, or listen to their podcast.)

What I like to do with book challenges, is suggest books for each month that I think will ALSO satisfy my readers. So fun, silly, happy ending, light hearted, found family, queer friendly, etc…

Sp here are my 2020 suggestions.

January – Times They Are A Changing

Read the final book in a series. (My recommendation is also my favorite of the trilogy.)

1. Daughter of the Empire by Raymond E. Feist and Janny Wurts

Now, will I personally be reading anything new that satisfies this criteria? I don’t think so. I tend to go for stand-alones. I have a few series I loosely follow. But in this new age of ebooks, said series don’t seem to have any endings in sight (narrows eyes at Macy Blake and Rhys Ford). But it’s possible I will read a book that ends a series without realizing it.

My book that best satisfies this criteria?


February – The Geometry of Love

Read a story with a love triangle or more. Book I recommend for this theme? The one that, for me, started it all…

2. A Knight of Ghost and Shadows by Mercedes Lackey

It’s not in ebook though, so you might also try Nora Phoenix’s Irresistible Omegas series (which I recommended on the Fictional Hangover podcast) which is a gay four-some. Another author who does great fun characters and quality romance writing in various configurations is R. G. Alexander. You want the Finn series, which features almost every kind of mash up (except those with an f/f base dynamic… so far.)

Will I be reading anything that satisfies this criteria? Probably. A lot of menage makes its way into my romance reading pile since it’s a trope I enjoy and gets queer fast (although it isn’t a huge favorite of mine, as authors can get a bit muddled on character voice distinctions and pronouns).

My book that best satisfies this criteria?

I haven’t written one… yet.

March – Murder She Wrote

Read a murder mystery by a female author. I don’t read much mystery but I have a weakness for PNR featuring a tough queer cop paired with a psychic/wizard/shifter of some kind. So under that umbrella I’m gonna suggest:

The Finder by J.E. Lorin

3. The Finder by J.E. Lorin (Zon only)

This is a classic example of the cop/psychic pairing, and both characters are adorable. (Other examples include PsyCop, Jon’s Mysteries, and Badlands.) Does the grumpy badass one love the snarky magic sunshine one? Yes? Gimme!

Will I be reading more? Most likely. I don’t care much about the mystery or the gruesome nature of the descriptions but (like I said) I’m a sucker for a paranormal cop pairing and it’s popular right now, so more will get into my TBR.

My book that best satisfies this criteria?

The 5th Gender

April – Hilarity Ensues

Read a book that makes you laugh. I read for this a lot. I have a number that could go on this list, but I’m going to go for the one that kept me up and made me cry with laughter.

4. The Lightning Struck Heart by T.J. Klune 

My book that best satisfies this criteria?

GL Carriger Sumage Solution SAS Model Quinn Max

The Sumage Solution

Most of what I write is funny, but I’m going for The Sumage Solution because my sexy books are also REALLY funny and I think you should give them a chance.

May – Shaken Not Stirred

Read a new take on an old story. So I’m thinking twisted fairy tale or unique take on a tired trope? Here’s my picks (both of them are retellings of Beauty and the Beast):

Beauty Robin McKinley

5a. Truth in the Dark by Amy Lane 

5b. Beauty by Robin McKinley

My book that best satisfies this criteria?

Defy or Defend is my take on Cold Comfort Farm, or the classic home makeover story. It also releases this month, May 2020. So that’s my pick.

Gail Mint Green Lace 1960s Pattern Turban Defy

Defy or Defend

June – Frontier Times

Read a book set in the Wild West or space. Well, I love me some queer romance sci fi so I have a few suggestions for this one:

Earth Fathers are Weird by Lyn Gala

6a. Claimings, Tails, and Other Alien Artifacts by Lyn Gala 

6b. Earth Fathers are Weird by Lyn Gala 

6c. Taji from Beyond the Rings by R Cooper

My book that best satisfies this criteria?

5th Gender 5G teacup purple promo Gail Carriger

The 5th Gender (AGAIN)

July – Dark Scottish Vampire Werewolf of the Highland Night

Read an urban fantasy or paranormal romance. I both write and read these genres, so I have a ton of favorites (anything from R Cooper’s Beings in Love series would make this list). It was really hard to pick so I just chose a Mary Calmes because I basically comfort read her stuff constantly. (Her novella Landslide as part of Creature Feature is my favorite, the world building concept is so unique yet reminds me of Alexia, but it’s hard to get hold of so I gave you a vampire alternate.)

7a. Landslide by Mary Calmes (demons) 

7b. His Consort by Mary Calmes (vampires) 

My book that best satisfies this criteria?

Many of them, but written with PNR specifically in mind? The most classic of this style is How to Marry a Werewolf:

How to Marry a Werewolf Gail Carriger HtMAW tea drink office

How to Marry a Werewolf

August – The Rise of Augustus

Read a book with Roman influence. Turns out, I read a lot of Greek tangential stuff but not so much Roman. My suggestion is therefore Court of Fives, a pastiche of Roman occupied Egypt meets YA meets Little Women that I LOVE hard:

Court of FIves Kate Elliott

8. Court of Fives by Kate Elliot

My book that best satisfies this criteria?

Blameless Gail Carriger Octopus Pin Merch


Uh, well in Blameless they go to Italy, does that count?

September – It’s Like Being Back in School

Read a classic.

9. No. 

My book that best satisfies this criteria?

Soulless Gail Carriger Hardcover Illustrated


It’s old, so close to being a classic, right?

October – Terror in the Haunted House

Read a book featuring a haunted house. This isn’t really my thing, I don’t love horror. But I hear nothing but good things about:

10. The Mysterious and Amazing Blue Billings by Lily Morton

I’ve read Lily’s other books and they are wonderful, so if you want creepy this one might work for you.

My book that best satisfies this criteria?

Hum, haunted house? Does house party rife with conspiracy and one very polite ghost count?

Poison or Protect

November – Remember, Remember the Fifth of November

Read a book with a government overthrow conspiracy or monarch assassination. A large number of fantasy books feature this kind of thing, many of which I love. The afore mentioned Mistress of the Empire series, newly discovered His Fair Assassin series, and also my old favorite Alanna by Tamora Pierce. However I’m going to officially pick another favorite YA…

11. Crown Duel by Sherwood Smith 

My book that best satisfies this criteria?

Etiquette Finishing School Gail Carriger Shirt Team Soap

Etiquette & Espionage

December – Holliday Escape

Read something seasonal. I actually love holiday reads so much that I have a whole blog post about my favorites.


Gail Carriger’s Favorite Holiday Reads ~ Books for Kids & Adults (Miss Carriger Recommends)

My book that best satisfies this criteria?

RTW Feather Wreath Octopus Decoration Christmas Romancing the Werwolf Gail Carriger

Romancing the Werewolf 

So there is your plan for the year. I hope you are into it!

Yours (destined to be killed by a tumbling TBR pile),

Miss Gail

  • Want book recs from what I just finished, in your inbox, once a month? This goes to my Chirrup members, because I love them bestest. Sign up here.
  • Not into newsletters? Get only new releases by following Gail on Amazon or BookBub!


Meat Cute: The Hedgehog Incident featuring Alexia & Conall’s first encounter!

Meat Cute The Hedgehog Incident Gail Carriger Free Download


In this short story Alexia Tarabotti attends what seems to be a dull London party, until the new werewolf Alpha turns up, is unconscionably rude to her, and sits on a hedgehog.

Upcoming Scribbles?

Gail’s Daily Tea Party

Tisane of Nifty 

Writerly Tincture 

Speaking of Goodreads, here’s an article:

The Current State and Future of Goodreads

Book Nibble 

Year in Review: Steampunk in the News

Quote to Sip 

Sophil Reads says of Reticence:

“I did not realize how much I wanted a Percy love story until I read this book. It was everything that I did not know I needed, and I am so glad that it exists.”

10 Movies, TV, Songs That Made Me Happy in 2019 (Miss Gail Recommends)

Posted by Gail Carriger


Gentle Reader, this continues a series of reflections on the things I enjoyed the most last year. Here’s some of the not-book media I discovered that I really loved.

  1. Mary Poppins Returns. Despite what you may think, I’m not a huge fan of the original movie (except the suffragette song) but I enjoyed this new version. In fact, I have decided I want to be her. I figure I’m about halfway there. Gotta wear my deep blue velvet coat more often, and I need a cute tilted burgundy perch fedora.
  2. A Cappella Group Pentatonix’s ‘The Sound Of Silence’ (plus I adore the outfits, very 90s La Femme Nikita).
  3. While watching the TV series Bones, I heard the song Lilikoi Lover by Rising Tide at the opening to an episode. I got so excited. Basically, this is a love song to my favorite fruit of all time: passion fruit. It is NOT a good song, but that matters not a whit to my excitement on the subject of its existence.
  4. Speaking of watching Bones, I like the anthropology perspective. Before you ask: yes my lab was near to the arch phys people (forensic anthropology); yes I’ve met the flesh eating beetles; no not my area of expertise at all; yes they did work CSI. Everyone hung out in my lab because we were food safe and I served tea, can’t do that around dead things.
  5. All Fantasy Everything podcast. I love the premise, although it’s a bit dude bro, it really makes me laugh.
  6. Four Weddings & a Funeral short film sequel for Comic Relief 2019 – a charming short follow up 25 years later to the original movie, which is a favorite of mine.
  7. Captain Marvel movie, working theory is it’s a buddy cop comedy chassis with Heroine’s Journey overtones. I liked it. My favorite was the cat. Of course.
  8. For Valentine’s Day I basically just rewatched all my favorite queer romantic comedies, ate a lot of chocolate, and enjoyed the rain.
  9. The following earworm: Postmodern Jukebox covers Burn.
  10. The new adaptation of Howard’s End. I’m an EM Forster fan, but I never liked the original adaptation, even though the cast was good. I think this longer version better suits the nuances of the story.

Yours (always behind what everyone else is into),

Miss Gail 

The rest in this series

10 Things That YOU Did That Made Me Happy in 2019 (Miss Gail Recommends)

10 Books That Made Me Happy in 2019 (Miss Gail Recommends)

10 Food & Recipes That Made Me Happy in 2019 (Miss Gail Recommends)


  • If you want these recommendations AS I FIND THEM, they go to my Chirrup members first, because I love them bestest. Sign up here.
  • Not into newsletters? Get only new releases by following Gail on Amazon or BookBub!


Meat Cute: The Hedgehog Incident featuring Alexia & Conall’s first encounter!

Meat Cute The Hedgehog Incident Gail Carriger Free Download


In this short story Alexia Tarabotti attends what seems to be a dull London party, until the new werewolf Alpha turns up, is unconscionably rude to her, and sits on a hedgehog.

Upcoming Scribbles?

Gail’s Daily Tea Party

Tisane of Nifty 

Gail Carriger Lace and Gold Waist Cinch Dark Garden

Writerly Tincture 

The Side Effects of Being an Author

Book Nibble 

“Shouldn’t you be worrying about your own problems?”

“What enjoyment is there in that? Other people are always far more entertaining.”

~ Blameless

Quote to Sip 

“Apparently it’s the day of Hyper Aggressive Authors.”

~ Borderlands Books, Overheard in the Store

10 Food & Recipes That Made Me Happy in 2019 (Miss Gail Recommends)

Posted by Gail Carriger

Continuing to reflect on last year, Gentle Reader, and things that made me happy. Of course many of those are FOOD related!

  1. Trader Joe’s eggnog flavor whole milk greek yogurt. I know, I’m weird, but I love eggnog yet can’t drink much of it, so the carton goes bad fast. This gives me all the same satisfaction with way less guilt or waste.
  2. I spotted PURPLE NOODLES. Tris would be so excited and honored.
  3. Sticky toffee pudding in Scotland (and other things I ate abroad.) Including an amazing lamb burger, fancy duck, Greek pastries, any weird crisp I could find, and many breakfasts. Turns out the Isles have UPPED their food game since I last visited.
  4. Miracle Fruit tablets at a party. I brought them out among friends and they were a huge hit. We were sucking down lemons like hysterical children addicted to candy.
  5. Baked a wildly popular Cherry Clafoutis. Here’s the recipe. I used only 1/2 cup of the white sugar. And for a GF/no lacto version I substituted almond meal for flour and coconut creamer for milk.
  6. Bonne Maman Cherry Preserves has become my favorite (store bought) jam.
  7. Zucchini noodles. I’ve been doing them with brown butter garlic (like this). Yum.
  8. Jelly Babies. I grew up with them and I’ve discovered I can order them in the USA. It’s the gummy things that make life worth living.
  9. Making (and modifying) tiramisu.
  10. This article on Making Ancient Roman Style Cheese

Yours (always trying new foods),

Miss Gail 

  • If you want these recommendations AS I FIND THEM, they go to my Chirrup members first, because I love them bestest. Sign up here.
  • Not into newsletters? Get only new releases by following Gail on Amazon or BookBub!


Thank you Goodreads

The 5th Gender tied for 1st place in the Goodreads M/M Romance Group members choice awards, Best Sci-Fi. I share the win with the fantastic Earth Fathers Are Weird by Lynn Gala (which I read and LOVED).


Upcoming Scribbles?

Gail’s Daily Tea Party

Tisane of Nifty 

Office Tea Zone

The tea zone in my new office, take a tour on YouTube.

Writerly Tincture 

Bad sex award twosome: prize goes to Didier Decoin and John Harvey

Book Nibble 

Sophril Reads says of How To Marry A Werewolf:

“I have to say that Gail has really upped her game with this one. I didn’t realize how much I truly liked Channing until this book, or how much I wanted him to be happy.”

Quote to Sip 

As vague and woollen-headed a blighter as ever bit a sandwich.”

~ Carry on, Jeeves by P.G. Wodehouse

10 Books That Made Me Happy in 2019 (Miss Gail Recommends)

Posted by Gail Carriger

Hello Gentle Reader,

One of the things I like to do is look back on the year and think about the things I really enjoyed. To that end here’s the books that made me happy last year!

What Would Gail Read MM Gay Romance Books

  1. R. Cooper’s queer sci-fi Taji From Beyond the Rings. If you liked 5th Gender give this one a try. It’s on an alien planet and more politically complicated, but great.
    Taji from Beyond the Rings R Cooper
  2. Granddad’s Cup of Tea by Amy Rae Durreson is one of my favorite romantic short stories OF ALL TIME. It’s a sweet contemporary romance set in the UK about a granddad finding his second love later in life. It is truly charming and if you want a pick-me-up, Granddad’s Cup of Tea will work even better than an actual cup of tea (and I don’t say that lightly). Although, honestly, why not have both?
  3. Don’t know if you like comics or how you consume them but I read Marvel Actions new CAPTAIN MARVEL #1 which is Flerken-a-licious, PG, and adorable. Recommended for all ages.
  4. Still Waters by Alex Gabriel, about a nix (evil merman) and a hunter, enemies who must band together to stop a monster and protect something they never thought they’d have… a home. They may even learn to like each. The story is more fairy tale fantasy than romance, eerie without being dark, and a little bit wonderful.
  5. Prince & Knight by Daniel Haack, adorable kid’s picture book about a prince who can’t find the right princess, because what he wants is actually a knight. I liked this book so much I’ve now gifted it 3 times.
  6. Speaking of gay boys & dragons, Knight’s Fire by SJ Himes, if you loved Tris in The 5th Gender you will love Zephyr the dragon who accidentally on purpose becomes a man who falls in love with the knight sent to rescue him. A bubbly little book, no weighty matters here, very enjoyable.
  7. Lyn Gala’s sci-fi Earth Father’s Are Weird. It’s so charming. Human military dude accidentally becomes surrogate for tentacle alien children, I know but trust me. All the feels. Found family, adorable squidies. Gah. So cute. You (hopefully) know I LOVE this author’s Claiming’s series, so I bought this one without bothering to read the blurb or sample. I REGRET NOTHING.
  8. If you love my San Andreas books you might try Nora Phoenix’s Irresistible Omegas series. Tons of sex, menage (and more), and mpreg so you have to like/tolerate those tropes. But it has one of the best, most touching allegories for a trans character I’ve EVER read. Enar’s heart-tugging denouement happens in the 3rd or 4th book, but when it comes it made me so so so happy I cried.
  9. I finished and loved Rhys Ford’s latest Kai Gracen novel, Jacked Cat Jive. More please.
  10. R Cooper’s book, Sweet Clematis is full of angst and miscommunication but it’s the ache I’m always after with Cooper. Happily cried and smiled my way through it. No surprise Cooper starts and ends this list.

Yours (destined to be killed by a tumbling TBR pile),

Miss Gail

  • If you want these recommendations AS I FIND THEM, they go to my Chirrup members first, because I love them bestest. Sign up here.
  • Not into newsletters? Get only new releases by following Gail on Amazon or BookBub!


Meat Cute: The Hedgehog Incident featuring Alexia & Conall’s first encounter!

Meat Cute The Hedgehog Incident Gail Carriger Free Download


In this short story Alexia Tarabotti attends what seems to be a dull London party, until the new werewolf Alpha turns up, is unconscionably rude to her, and sits on a hedgehog.

Upcoming Scribbles?

Gail’s Daily Tea Party

Tisane of Nifty 

Places I Would Like to Write

Places I Would Like to Write

Writerly Tincture 

The Secret Society of Women Writers in Oxford in the 1920s

Book Nibble 

Office Bookshelf Light Stock

The new book display shelf in my office. You can tour the office on YouTube

Quote to Sip 

“Before you use a fancy word, make room for it.”

~ Joseph Joubert

10 Things That YOU Did That Made Me Happy in 2019 (Miss Gail Recommends)

Posted by Gail Carriger

Gentle Reader, here’s a small sample of things relating to you lovelies that I really enjoyed last year!

Meeting some well dressed readers at Denver’s Pop Culture Con 2019

  1. Teaching the Heroine’s Journey for Writers. I forgot what a delight it is to teach a subject I love to students who are genuinely interested. I’ll never get over the sensation of watching students’ eyes shine when they have their ah-ha moments. It’s a wonderful feeling.
  2. Learning about your weird, unique, or unusual Thanksgiving and holiday traditions (and foods). Mine mostly involved crab.
  3. Bookriot’s multiple posts on girls who dress as boys, reminded me I have a fun blog post on the subject.
  4. You all posting photos of purple things, cocktails, dresses, flowers, you name it in honor of The 5th Gender‘s Release. Yeah purple!
  5. Reddit’s Favorite Mindblowing Facts of All Time, Fact-Checked
    Lilliput Cat Tongue Lick Fomral Bow Tie
  6. This story about a cat stuck in a garbage disposal (cat is fine, story made me cry with laughter). Honestly it’s worth the five minutes it takes to read.
  7. All your support and condolences when I lost my beloved little convertible. Te AB and I are trying to be a one car household for a bit, it’s going… okaaay.
  8. Working my way through Midsomer Murders. Increasing amused by the absurd plots (bird watchers of doooom). Also having a grand time spotting familiar faces from various BBC costume dramas. When I posted about this on Facebook, it occasioned a huge and truly hilarious discussion with you lot.
  9. Everyone getting so excited about Fan Service that it sold out completely in less than 2 weeks!
  10. Scanning all my old fan mail before moving offices and reliving the glory days after Soulless first came out.

Gail Carriger Themed Crosstitch Teapot Teacup copy

Yours, surrounded by awesome peeps,

Miss Gail

  • If you want these kinds of occurrences as they happen to me, I talk about ’em to my Chirrup members first, because I love them bestest. Sign up here.
  • Not into newsletters? Get only new releases by following Gail on Amazon or BookBub!


Meat Cute: The Hedgehog Incident featuring Alexia & Conall’s first encounter!

Meat Cute The Hedgehog Incident Gail Carriger Free Download


In this short story Alexia Tarabotti attends what seems to be a dull London party, until the new werewolf Alpha turns up, is unconscionably rude to her, and sits on a hedgehog.

Upcoming Scribbles?

Gail’s Daily Tea Party

Tisane of Nifty 

Bonus: Fans introduced me to Sunken Treasure Jewels at Gaslight Steam Expo.

Writerly Tincture 

Become a Good Literary Citizen

Book Nibble 

Libraries are reservoirs of strength, grace and wit, reminders of order, calm and continuity, lakes of mental energy, neither warm nor cold, light nor dark.”

~ Germaine Greer

Quote to Sip 

“If you’re not pissing someone off, you’re probably in PR.”

~ Borderlands Books, Overheard in the Store

Winter Drinks + Books Pairings, Getting Cozy to Read (Miss Gail Recommends)

Posted by Gail Carriger

Dearest Gentle Reader,

It’s finally winter round these parts, we even got some rain at last. It’s cold enough to want to curl up with a hot beverage and a book, so I thought I would have some fun and pair mine up. (Let me know if you agree with my choices?)

Gail Carriger Book + Companion Hot Beverage

RTW Romancing the Werwolf Gail Carriger Teacup Parasol

Romancing the Werewolf + Wassail

Wassail, of course. RTW is my one true holiday book, full of possible child sacrifice, swaddled squash, and wassail. (What, your holidays aren’t like that? What have you been doing with your life?) Here’s a recipe!

Soulless Gail Carriger Parasol Teacup Spine

Soulless + Cinnamon Black Tea

Ready for a reread of an old favorite? Soulless is waiting for you. Alexia’s favorite tea is Assam, try it strong with whole milk. Or if you want something more winter themed, Alexia loves her some cinnamon (so does Prudence) and I think she would adore this tea.

SIlvana Temmineck Tea

Mrs Temminneck At Tea by Silvana Bevilacqua

Etiquette & Espionage + Hot Coco

Chocolate wasn’t around much in the 1850s, certainly not for daring young high flying ladies of quality. Still, I have no doubt it would be Sophronia’s favorite, so I’m going to say pair E&E with hot coco.

Prudence Teacup Pin Merch Spotted Custard Crew Gail Carriger

Prudence + Chai

Of course it has got to be chai. Prudence would love it, Percy would find it too spicy, and Primrose would be cautiously intrigued.

Poison or Protect + Boozie Nog

You know Gavin has a sweet tooth, and you know that big soft sweetie loves him some boozed-up egg-nog. I can just see him sitting around the fireplace with all his girls. Now, I’m a brandy in my nog lady myself, but Gavin would have his with Scotch, of course.

Preshea would just drink the Scotch, neat, out of a teacup, staring at her children and husband in mild discomfort (and too much love), and wondering how she got to this point in her life.

Ace Artemis Fan Artist Imogene Genevieve Lefoux Kiss Romancing the Inventor RTI SS1

Madame Lefoux & Imogene by Artemis Fan Artist

Romancing the Inventor + Pumpkin Spice Latte

A daring choice, but I think Imogene would love a pumpkin spice latte. She hasn’t had much spoiling and I can see Genevieve getting her anything she wants (while Madame Lefoux, of course, just drinks shots of espresso).

The Sumage Solution + Chocolate Pu-erh

Max loves his sweet lattes, but Bryan has strong feelings on tea. So while his man is swilling extra sweet caf, Bryan would allow himself to branch out from his customary harsher beverage to coco pu-erh. Because he still loves sipping dead bog people, just winterfied.

(Incidentally if you are also a tea snob: Learning about puerh can help you save a lot of money.)

How to Marry a Werewolf + Peppermint & Honey

How to Marry is not a particularly wintery book (apart from the attitude and eye color of a certain character). I see Channing as quite cold and biting so I’m thinking peppermint. Faith would get in there and add a little honey, so Channing wasn’t denying himself. He probably prefers it without, but humors her because he likes that she’s looking after him.

The 5th Gender + Winter Tea Sampler

I can just imagine what Tristol would make of human holiday customs on a space station (which might make for a good short story some day). The colors, the lights, the cheer. He’d LOVE it. I think he’d go all out and just get a big sampler, so he could try all the different winter teas. I like Tea Forte’s Winter Collection, and I think he would too.

Yours destined to drown in a vat of tea,

Miss Gail

Disagree with any of my choices? Leave a comment.

  • Want more fun behind the scenes thoughts? These go to my Chirrup members, because I love them bestest. Sign up here.
  • Not into newsletters? Get only new releases by following Gail on Amazon or BookBub!
  • Coop de Book for December 2019 is to pick from Gail’s favorite holiday reads!

I have a new holiday book to love!

Gail: Mad giggling.
AB: *eyebrow up*
G: Snicker snicker snicker.
G: This book is so much funnier than I thought it would be. I’m so happy.
Book: “summoning a toilet paper demon”
G: Loses her tiny mind for 10 minutes.

So what book was I reading?

A Villain for Christmas by Alice Winters

A Villain for Christmas by Alice Winters. And what an unexpected gem of a book this is! Gay superheros for Christmas. I picked it up in a string of holiday reads and this one was the star (at the top of the tree, nash). (Honestly I want a cover overhaul on this one, one of those cute cartoon ones I keep seeing like Red, White & Royal Blue.)

Look it’s not really a holiday read, it’s a HILARIOUS take on superheroes where a super-villain (who really doesn’t want to be) falls in love with a superhero and has to keep his identity secret until his bumbling evil family, a hairless cat dressed in pajamas, bags of cheese, and various other things conspire against him.

I did not expect to laugh as much as a I did but honestly, it utterly ridiculous and extremely funny.

If you like my character Max in THE SUMAGE SOLUTION or took my rec and enjoyed THE LIGHTNING STRUCK HEART by TJ Klune, then this one is for you. Honestly, give it a try, you won’t be sorry.

Like this post? Read my holiday offering

Amazon | Kobo | B&N | iBooks | Direct

I Can Read for Miles says of Romancing the Werewolf:

“Guys, it is worth the wait. This novella is delightful. It gave me so many vibes that I got from Soulless.”

ABC Book Recs from Gail Carriger (Miss Carriger Recommends)

Posted by Gail Carriger


This meme went around Tumblr a little while ago, Gentle Reader, and I decided to play along. So here is a book recommendation for every letter of the alphabet (well, almost every).

I’ve ignored the “The” and “A” in book titles otherwise, well, you know…

Gail Carriger ABC Book Suggestions

Acrobat by  Mary Calmes

Gay contemporary romance, May December. English professor gets accidentally involved with a hot young mob hit man, hijinks and happily ever afters ensue.  I just love everything about his author and her use of romance tropes. She’s a comfort read for me and this is one of my favorites. (Read my full review on Goodreads.)

Beauty by Robin McKinley

One of my favorite retellings of Beauty and the Beast. The family is loving and the prose beyond witty. If you love the Disney version, it owes a lot to this book.

Courting Magic by Stephanie Burgis

Courting Magic by Stephanie Burgis

Gaslight fantasy romantic novella, truly charming and a lot of fun. If you like my books this one will definitely satisfy. (Read my full review on Goodreads.)

Daughter of the Empire (The Empire Trilogy, #1) by Raymond E. Feist and Janny Wurts

One of the best political epic fantasy books ever written. No, really. It is insanely good. (Read my full review on Goodreads.)

 The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde

A charming irreverent take on… well… everything from literature to history. (Read my full review on Goodreads.)

The Forgotten Beasts of Eld by Patricia A. McKillip (Author),‎ Gail Carriger (Preface)

The Forgotten Beasts of Eld by Patricia A. McKillip

This is my favorite book of all time. If I had to pick a desert island book, it would be this one. (Read my full review on Goodreads.) Also, I was honored to be asked to write the forward.

Grave Mercy (His Fair Assassin, #1) by Robin LaFevers

The series premise: three girls from different backgrounds are deemed daughters of death and taken in to a mysterious convent where they are trained as assassins. Start with this one, read them all, thank me later. (Read my full review on Goodreads.)

Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones

Howl’s lingers with me because of the humor, because of the perfectly executed twisting plot, because of the snapping dialogue. (Read my full review on Goodreads.)

In the Hand of the Goddess (Song of the Lioness, #2) by Tamora Pierce

I love all the Alanna books but this one is probably my favorite, you should, of course, read them in order. Then you can argue with me.

Jinn and Juice by Nicole Peeler

Jinn and Juice by Nicole Peeler

Lots of fun side characters, pithy remarks, witty banter, scenes full of action, and a nice thread of romance. (Read my full review on Goodreads.)

Knight of Ghosts and Shadows by Mercedes Lackey and Ellen Guon

Lackey wrote urban fantasy before it was cool, and did it with her usual charm and aplomb. (Read my full review on Goodreads.) (no ebook edition)

The Lightning-Struck Heart by T.J. Klune

Adorable snarky gay boy main character. Lots of awesome magic. Really fun fantasy setting. But honestly… It’s hilarious. (Read my full review on Goodreads.)

Mara, Daughter of the Nile by Eloise Jarvis McGraw

Mara, Daughter of the Nile by Eloise Jarvis McGraw

I adored this book when I first read it at age 10, and still love it 30 years later. I cannot recommend it highly enough to young readers who have any interest at all in Ancient Egypt. (Read my full review on Goodreads.)

Newt’s Emerald by Garth Nix

It’s similar in tone to Sorcery & Cecelia in that it has a nice light touch with a plucky heroine. (Read my full review on Goodreads.)

Ordinary Princess by M.M. Kaye

This book was my first understanding that fantasy could combine with humor. And the names! The names!

Price of the stars Doyle Macdonald

The Price of the Stars by Debra Doyle and James D. Macdonald

One of the worlds best yet least known space operas. Honestly, it so good, full of political intrigue, sibling solidarity, and one bad ass crossdresser.

The Queen’s Daughter by Susan Coventry

The story Princess Joan for a YA audience, forgotten daughter of Eleanor of Aquitaine and King Henry II, sister to Richard the Lionhearted full of historical detail – clothing, food, and toys as well as politics and wars. (Read my review on Goodreads.)

Ridiculous by D.L. Carter

The funniest regency romance you will ever read. (Read my full review on Goodreads.)

Sorcery & Cecelia by Patricia C. Wrede and Caroline Stevermer

One of my all time favorite books, Sorcery and Cecelia started out as a letter game between two brilliant writers. (Read my full review on Goodreads.)

Taming the Forest King by Claudia J. Edwards

Military fantasy.  I cannot explain why I love this book so much, but I do. OP and hard to find. (Read my full review on Goodreads.)

Uprooted by Naomi Novik

I don’t consider fairy stories particularly my Thing, such as it is, but I still very much enjoyed this one. (Read my full review on Goodreads.)

Valor’s Choice (Confederation, #1) by Tanya Huff

Military Space Opera written by a woman who really knows what she’s writing about. Marvelous characters and alien races, extremely snappy dialogue, an endearing and tough heroine, and lots of fast action. (Read my full review on Goodreads.)

Warprize by Elizabeth Vaughan

Fantasy romance. This is a culture-conflict comfort read for me. (Read my full review on Goodreads.)

X- I have absolutely nothing for x

You Never Know by Mary Calmes

Another gay contemporary for you, because I really love this author and it’s the only thing I have saved for “Y.”

A Zoo in My Luggage by Gerald Durrell

Because who else would I put under Z? One of the world’s greatest comic writers, very little read outside of the UK, but totally worth trying especially if you’re an animal lover.

Weekly Book Recs?

If you want weekly book recommendations from me (or to suggest books to me) I participate in #bookrecfriday on Twitter & Facebook.

If you want to know whenever I post a review, follow me on BookBub or Goodreads.

Yours (destined to be killed by a tumbling TBR pile),

Miss Gail


Reticence: The forth and final Custard Protocol Book!


USA & Canada: Amazon print & digital & audiobook | Kobo | B & N | Apple | Audible | Other

UK digitalprint | Kobo | Apple UK coming soon I hope

Amazon Overseas DE | FR | AU

Kobo Overseas DE | FR | AU

Bookish and proper Percival Tunstell finds himself out of his depth when floating cities, spirited plumbing, and soggy biscuits collide in this delightful conclusion to New York Times bestselling author Gail Carriger’s Custard Protocol series.



Your Moment of Parasol . . .

L'ancienne cour tumblr parasol photo children victorian 1880 hats

1880s L’ancienne cour tumblr

Your Infusion of Cute . . .

Your Tisane of Smart . . .

In Our Time podcast ep on The Time Machine is really fascinating. The panel delves into ideas and anxieties in late Victorian London, explored by HG Wells in his story of time travel, evolution and a planet unfit for humans.

Your Writerly Tinctures . . .  

15 Things I Learned After Reading 100 Query Letters

Book News:

Meanwhile, I was interviewed by one of my most admired sexy positive feminist icons! 

Quote of the Day:

Gail: Sometimes the cat will sit just out of reach and stare at me.
AB: Trying to communicate telepathically, perhaps?
GC: What is she thinking?
AB: Just wondering what you taste like.

Your Moment of Gail


“I suspect it may be like the difference between a drinker and an alcoholic; the one merely reads books, the other needs books to make it through the day.”

(Interview with The Booklovers blog, September 2010)” ~ Gail Carriger

Questions about Gail’s Parasolverse? Wiki that sheez!

How to Thrift for Victorian & Steampunk Outfits (Miss Carriger Recommends)

Posted by Gail Carriger

Dear Gentle Reader,

This is not for the faint of heart.

This is an older blog post I did on Retro Rack, that I’ve consolidated and moved here. It contains basic guidelines on how to cobble together a pseudo victorian or steampunk outfit via thrift stores.

I originally wrote this post many years ago for a different blog, before I was a paid authorbeast, when I used my online journal as a kind of information distribution center for friends. Back then it was all about thrifting for the Dickens Fair, an icon of the Christmas season up here in NorCal/. I worked there for a decade or so.

I adapted it to be a general Thrifting Victoriana post and it can also be used as a basis for steampunk.

 One of my beta readers at Dickens wearing a top (we thrifted) that she made, from a 1980s plaid vest + skirt set (she tailored in the vest and used the skirt for bell sleeves). 


I thought I would reboot it one last time for you, my most fashionable of readers. My hope is it will evolve and become a place I can point people too whenever they ask me the inevitable questions, how do I thift for a {fill in the blank} costume.

Outfit made of thrifted velvet bathrobe, white king sized sheet set, tailored 1970’s blouse, straw hat re-purposed to be a bonnet lined with a pleated handkerchief, lots of ribbon.

Anyway, Fashionable Reader, as you may well have guessed I am the shopping denizen for my particular group.

One of my few super powers (including the inexplicable ability to turn off street lights) is thrift store juju. I’ve used it to construct various outfits over the years. You see I have an eye trained to spot the possibilities. So this post was written to help others develop the “eye to what can be”.

 Kai modeling a dress I made out of thrifted items: bridesmaid’s cream satin dress, a crochet tablecloth, brown velvet bathrobe, recovered hat, and pheasant feathers from a mask.

Please note:

This is meant to be a basic tips instruction manual to help those just getting into costuming, not for those with more advanced techniques.  All rules are made to be broken so please keep in mind that this post is 101, not seminar level. Also I’m not using modifiers for the sake of brevity, all of the instructions bellow are meant as suggestions not commands.

Here we go!

Thrifting for Victorian Inspired Fashion

Some General Thoughts

  • Middle to upper-class costumes should FIT properly. You don’t need to sew but you will need to tailor.
  • For ladies this means bodice (shoulder to waist) hugs the upper body, blouse sleeves end at the wrists, and skirts show no ankle.
  • For men this means the jacket fits the upper torso (shoulder to waist), sleeves are long and do not ride-up, waistcoats are tight to the body, and trousers start at the WAIST and end at top of the shoe, below the ankle.

1860s couple. Image from my personal collection, please re-post with attribution . ©GAILCARRIEGRLLC

  • Patterned fabric is your friend. Avoid those that look too modern or too machined, go for small checked, striped, tweed, and flowered.

TIP: Look for something you might see on old-fashioned wallpaper.

1860s check dress, Image from my personal collection, please re-post with attribution. ©GAILCARRIEGRLLC

  • Color is your friend. The Victorians loved color. Take advantage of: white, black, pastel, jewel tones, primary, secondary, and contrasting. Colors project images. For example: pastels and whites tended to be worn by unmarried young ladies, blacks and reds by matrons.
    • For men, early in in the era, yellow and red suggest dandy, and blue is associated with the Corinthian set.
    • Women tend to be more matched. A combination of three colors was considered flattering early on in the Victorian era, for example, sage green, peach, and black, by the 1870’s graduating shades of the same color came into vogue. The exception is blouses, worn underneath rest of the outfit, these are almost always white or cream.
  • Fabric is NOT your friend. This is England post regency, light fabrics were considered a tad old fashioned, although they did appear. Best to avoid cheep silk, muslin, other light cottons, and, of coarse, anything man-made. Brocade was rare on women, although some men did do it for a waistcoat.

TIP: Opt for twilled raw silks, wool, dupioni, heavy cotton, satin, velvet, taffeta, and other rich, lux, weighty fabrics. Think curtains in libraries


Nicholas Nickleby – for early lower class.

Washington Square – w/ Jennifer Jason Lee, CHECK OUT HER HAIR!

Jane Eyre (A&E) – good lower-class dresses.

Mrs. Brown – for an excellent range in space and class.

Impromptu – great men’s attire

North and South – not only good costumes but a great romance, and a killer look at the dark side of life and rise of industrialism during this era.

All About Steampunk Fashion

Part ONE: Victorian Dress Thrifting for Women

Swiss Waist, Image from my personal collection, please re-post with attribution. ©GAILCARRIEGRLLC

You have more choices, but more modifications and sewing.

Self in a mainly thrifted outfit: hat Goodwill (dampened and bent, decorated – using hot glue gun – with ribbons and flowers from a church rummage sale); velvet cape is the top portion of a coat (bottom of which was stained); shirt 1970 boxy cut thrifted on Height Street, tailored to figure, and blue ribbon threaded through; skirt gored made from stain resistant king size bed sheets, bed ruffle at bottom, blue ribbon sewing on all over. Parasol not thrifted but added blue ribbon to match.


1. Hats

Victorian women always wear their hair up. Only whores and very young girls wear their hair loose. In the streets and when visiting or shopping, hair is also always covered, with any of the following:

A. Mob Cap (or Mop Cap): Made of lace or cotton trimmed with lace, usually white, this hat looks like a shower cap with a ruffle around the edge. Favored by older, married women, and widows.

 B. A Floof (or Lace Cap): A lace head covering that drapes over crown of head with ruffles in the back and flaps over the ears. Works both inside and outside the house. Can’t be found in thrift stores, but relatively easy to make.

Floof! Image from my personal collection, please re-post with attribution. ©GAILCARRIEGRLLC

C. Flat Straw (or Shepherdess Cap): A very shallow crown, very wide brim, close weave straw hat that must be held on with hatpin or bow and curved in interesting ways. Favored by younger women and the country set.

 The cream and brown hat I made, mainly with a hot glue gun for my 1878 walking gown.

D. Lady’s Bowler: Shaped like a bowler with a slightly smaller brim, made of straw, and worn tilted to one side affixed with a hatpin. Difficult to find.

E. Riding Hat: A lady’s top-hat, this is usually shorter than a man’s, decorated with a vale, and worn with a riding habit. Considered very daring.

 F. Perch: An undersized, highly decorated hat with a narrow brim curled up on each side and peaked in the front (like a cowboy hat), worn perched far forward on the head, or far to the back later on in history, and affixed with a hatpin.

 Mine is made from a fez with a turned up back brim. Feathers from an African mask, and dried flowers.

G. Bonnet: Sits way back on the head, highly decorated to match the dress.

 H. A whole range and variety came in the 1870’s that emulated turbans and flowerpots like the toque.

I. And in the mid to late 1970s the teeny tiny hats came in as well. You can make on of these using a doll’s hat blank from any craft store.

 The crazy purple Ivy hat I made using a bucram blank, a Styrofoam flowerpot insert, a glue gun, and lots of scraps.

THRIFTERS: Bonnets and flat straw hats can be made by cutting down regular straw hats. Look for close weave, bendable straw of any color with a shallow crown. All of the above tended to be highly decorated with silk flower, fake fruit, feather birds and more. Millinery is lots of fun, especially with a glue gun!

2. Shawls

Large square or triangle shape of heavy silk usually embroidered. NO CUT-VELVET! Cape is another good option.

Tip: Christmas tree skirts work really well as cape-like jackets.

Here is one I picked up from an after Christmas sale at TJ Max used as a shawl, and also as a can can skirt for a steampunk outfit.

3. Vest

You can, as a shop-keep, get way with a woman’s vest instead of jacket (vests are also worn under bolero style jackets). Vests should have no pockets, be VERY fitted, button or clasp up the front, have a full back (none of the fake liner fabric), flare at the waist, and have wide sloping shoulders. You will need a shawl to go into the streets. Swiss waists are also an option.

THRIFTERS: Look for full (no synthetic back), fitted vests with darts.

4. Blouses

Usually white/cream and designed to show only at the wrists and neck, blouses tend to be pretty masculine in cut and look, although they should be fitted to the torso. They usually have little lace collars, and full sleeves to a tight band of lace at the wrists. Shoulders are sloped. Necklines are high and round or v-shaped (with or without a turn-down collar), or mock turtle style, all with lace at the edge. Blouses can have some shirtfront detailing or lace, but NOT a tuxedo ruffle.

THRIFTERS: Avoid sleeves that puff out from the shoulder, are ruffled at the shoulder, and anything that turns the silhouette square (unless, of coarse this will be covered over by the rest of the outfit). Look in the white blouse section of thrift stores, you should find something. Remember you can go very masculine and wear a little necktie or lady’s cravat.

5. Jacket

You have many different style choices but only three are likely to turn up when thrifting. All the following jacket’s sleeves are full bell-shaped, although some have the fullest part at the elbow and taper in at the wrist.

  A. Bolero: If your blouse is fitted, or you have a vest, you can wear a bolero style jacket. These usually end just below the breast, have one clasp or are held closed with a broach, and taper back with a curved line.

 Jacket made from a shirt I reversed, slit up the front, pealed back and sewed ruffle on edge.

B. Regular: A tight single-breasted jacket, with or without a collar, fitted to the waist in a peak then flaring out as basques, slight tails, or a deep pointed front.

C. Blazer: Usually only worn by very poor women, they resemble modern men’s suit jackets, are usually velvet and darted to fit tight at the waist.

THRIFTERS: Look for close fitting, single-breasted jackets with NO SHOULDER PADS and wide sleeves, velvet blazers, bathrobes of good material, and the top half of dresses that can be cut off.

6. Skirt

The easiest part to find and to make from scratch, skirts are very full, gored, and run from pleats to ruffles to roushes to swags to ribbons. They changed in general silhouette over the years, from full crinoline to bustle to natural form, but always had a lot of fabric.

1860, 1870, and 1879

THRIFTERS: Look for a full skirt that has a waistband (rather than elastic) and can fit over several underskirts or a crinoline. It doesn’t have to be floor length, you can always add ruffles to the bottom. Wedding dresses can often be cut apart and ribbon added. Check the LINEN SECTION as skirts can be made from curtains or sheets. Dust-ruffles for beds make great readymade ruffles.

7. Shoes

A. Ankle Boots: Should hit just below, just above, or several inches above the ankle and lace up the front or (better!) up the side, with a flat sole or low hourglass heal. Boots can be made of leather or canvas in any color with a natural toe shape. The difficulty is in finding them without zippers. Consider substituting ribbon for laces.

B. Dancing Slippers: Ballet flats with a round toe made of satin or leather in any color that can ribbon tie up the ankle (but don’t have to).


8. Chemise (optional)

A fitted undershirt worn beneath the corset, with a low square or scooped neckline and capped sleeves, made of a very light material. You do not need one unless you have a corset.

9. Corset

They are nice because they make your posture Victorian and your clothing hang correctly. Either invest in a cheap stretchy one (under $50) or buy the real thing ($150 – 500), don’t go halfway, nothing in the world is worse than an ill-fitting corset.

7 Tips on How to Buy a Corset That Fits from Gail Carriger 

10. Petticoat

Originally a petticoat was a kind of chemise with a skirt attached to the bottom that falls to just below the knee. You do not need one unless you have a corset or a scratchy underskirt.

11. Underskirts

Often wrongly called petticoats, real Victorian underskirts are worn over the crinoline (to disguise the hoops) or (by the lower-classes) instead of a crinoline, often they were stiffened to ensure the overskirt flowed properly. The “substitute crinoline” was usually made of compressed, starched horsehair, very stiff and VERY scratchy, with a pretty fabric ruffle at the bottom. You can cheat by using modern “petticoats,” the kind made to go under wedding dresses (but you’ll probably want to add a cotton or lace ruffle to the nylon in case it is seen). The Victorians were fond of outrageous underpinnings. Demurely clad young ladies often wore bright red underskirts, teal bloomers, and so forth.

THRIFTERS: Look for petticoats made for wedding dresses and/or stiff taffeta skirts. You can always wear more than one.

11. Crinoline (optional)

Known by us laymen as “the hoopskirt,” you probably won’t find a crinoline thrifting, though they do turn up with wedding dresses occasionally. You can buy the cheep nylon kind for $30 from a dance supply store, or sometimes secondhand for less from a costume shop. Think carefully about whether you want to spend the money, crinolines can be very annoying to store and clean.

12. Under Drawers

Under drawers are not optional. You have two choices, both VERY easy to make. Both styles can be made from plain wide-legged, baggy women’s slacks in cotton, silk, or satin fabrics. In Victorian times both styles were split at the crotch, so you didn’t have to unlace your corset to use the loo. You don’t have to go that far unless you wear a corset. I just wear mine elastic at the hip, below my corset.

A. Bloomers: Baggy breaches, which end just below the knee in a wide, fat, lacy ruffle. (Originally called ‘pantaloons’ the actual bloomer was designed as outerwear – too shocking!)

Pair I made from some black thin pants, added lack to bottom, thin elastic waist

B. Pantalettes: Traditionally worn by young girls in the nursery, pantalettes briefly made an appearance as an adult garment in 1853 and were considered quite scandalous as they could be (gasp!) SEEN when a lady lifted her skirts. They are longer than bloomers and taper slightly, to end at the ankle, again with lots of lace at the bottom.

THRIFTERS: Look in women’s pants section for wide, white, drawstring slacks.

13. Stockings

White, knee-high or over-the-knee socks in a natural looking fabric. Target has them.

ACCESSORIES (the fun part)

14. Gloves

Short, white (usually kid) gloves were a vital part of any lady’s wardrobe, but you can use a color that matches your outfit. Your options also include: lace and net, fingered, finger-less, and gauntlet styles.

15. Parasol

My favorite, the parasol has a glorious history, it was one of the most significant gifts a man could give his intended. The shades were smaller than those you can find today, almost doll like, coming in a variety of sizes with very long handles turning them, by 1880 into a kind of walking stick. By about that same time a lady of quality had a parasol to match every daytime outfit.

Swiss Waist

16. Belt

More like waist cinchers, lady’s belts are wide and stiffened with boning usually made of a dark, contrasting color or matched to the fabric of the dress. They are either peaked at bottom front (and sometimes also top – called a Swiss Waist) and fastened behind, or sash-like and tied in a wide trailing bow down the back of the skirt.

17. Reticule

The Victorian purse, this item matches the dress and comes in a wide variety of shapes and styles. A simple reticule is very easy to make from extra material and trim.

18. Basket

A good alternative to the reticule, Victorian baskets are carried by lower and middle-class women. They are usually made in a closer weave and smaller size than Ren Faire baskets. They can be lined in fabric and decorated with lace and ribbon.

19. Jewelry

Victorians love jewelry and a lady of any class always wears some, even if it is all she has. Such jewelry includes: hatpins, hairpins and clasps, earrings (yes, pierced), broaches, scarf clasps, necklaces, bracelets, and rings.

THRIFTERS: Look for subtle, delicate costume jewelry including or combining: pearls, crosses, cameos, lockets, old-fashion paste gems, filigree (metal fashioned to look like lace), set in or made from silver, gold, or both. 

20. Decoration

Think in terms of excess where decoration is concerned. Load your outfit down with ruffles, ribbons, lace, tassels, fringe, beads, embroidery, fake flowers, and feathers. Once you have a color scheme I advise buying at least 10 yards of one nice ribbon to use to decorate and tie the entire outfit together.

TIP: Expect to spend good money on trim (unless you have a stock or hit a really good church bizarre). It is worth it because it makes all the difference.

Don’t be afraid of WHITE.

How to Remove Odors From Hand-Me-Down Clothes


Women, when you walk into a thrift store you should zero-in on these sections:

  • Hats
  • Shawls
  • Women’s White Blouses
  • Women’s Vests
  • Women’s Jackets = bolero, blazer
  • Women’s Skirts = long, full
  • Dresses = use top part as a jacket, or the bottom part as a skirt
  • Bathrobes = jacket
  • Wedding Dresses = underskirts or skirts
  • Women’s Shoes
  • Women’s Pants = wide leg slacks for bloomers
  • Linen’s Section = bed ruffles and curtains

Part Two: Victorian Dress Thrifting for Men

Most Likely American, c. 1860s. Image from my personal collection, please re-post with attribution. ©GAILCARRIEGRLLC

1. Hat

This is the most expensive item. Top-hats were the most common, which can be short (daytime, races, driving, visiting clubs) or tall (evening, formal events, weddings, funerals), and any color (black and gray are most common). Alternatives include bowlers and trilbies (newsboy cap). Men wore hats, always, period, end of story. Hats rarely turn up in thrift stores, except trilbies. Top-hats are cheapest online, expect to spend around $75.

Most Likely American, c. 1860s. Image from my personal collection, please re-post with attribution. ©GAILCARRIEGRLLC

2. Cravat

A cravat is a length of colorful lightweight fabric tied around the neck (often silk or satin). Usually no pattern. Modern ties do NOT work. The longer a cravat, the more elaborate the knot. No velvet and no wool. (Upper-class evening dress required at least 3 yards of white Egyptian cotton, called “lawn.”) A black ribbon might be tied over a cravat for formal occasions.

TIP: A cravat should be AT LEAST as long as your arm and as wide as your splayed hand.

THRIFTERS: Look for colorful women’s scarves, sashes, and fabric from which a long strip can be cut.

3. Shirt

The Victorian mens shirt is basically a plain, white men’s dress shirt (no stripes, no ruffles) with full sleeves and no turned collar (though this isn’t vital). (Upper-class collars were squared and stuck straight up, a stiff independent piece was inserted under the cravat.)

THRIFTERS: If you can’t find this part of your costume, you’re hopeless. Just tinker with the collar a bit.

Most Likely American, c. 1860s. Image from my personal collection, please re-post with attribution.

4. Waistcoat

The modern men’s vest with the peaked bottom front, deep v-neck, and synthetic tied back is not Victorian. A waistcoat should end about two inches below the natural waist-line and be squared off at the bottom (easy to hem from pointed or too long). The v-neck ended at the sternum, though it can go higher and/or fold over in a curve (the shawl collar). Waistcoats should be made completely (front and back) from the same fabric and be colored and/or patterned: think red, yellow, green. They can be double or single-breasted, single is more flattering to most men.

(Purely syntax: around the middle of the Victorian era vest came to mean single breasted, while waistcoat meant double breasted.)

THRIFTERS: Look in WOMEN’S VESTS for waistcoats with the same fabric all the way around, and no pockets (or one small one near the waist). Although for steampunk you can always embellish the pocket. You can also think in terms of sleeve removal. If you can find a thin jacket or robe from which the sleeves can be taken? Those brocade cropped monstrosities from the 80s can have a whole new life.

Most Likely American, c. 1860s. Image from my personal collection, please re-post with attribution. ©GAILCARRIEGRLLC

5. Jacket

The jacket is one of the hardest things to find: should have tails and be fitted through the torso. It can be single or double-breasted. Tails that fit properly end at the back of the knee. 3 options:

Still from the BBC Mini Series, Cranford

A. Tuxedo-tails (evening dress):

Modern styles work fine, but make sure to AVOID the satin stripe along the seam (AKA the tuxedo stripe) and anything too pointed.

Still from BBC miniseries Cranford

B. Swallow-tails (or morning coat):

Not cut-away square like tuxedo-tails, but forms tails by graduating down from front to back. (Man in the photo of the couple at the beginning is wearing a swallow tail.)

Still from Cranford

C. Frock-coat (or skirted jacket):

Basically tails without any cut away or graduation at all, they fit to the waist and then flair out. This style looks the most period and is the hardest to find. Unless you convert a woman’s coat.

THRIFTERS: Look for long coats or jackets that can be cut down. Women’s coats work great but often don’t fit through arms and shoulders. Expect to spend $75 on a quality pair of tails.

Image from my personal collection, please re-post with attribution.

6. Trousers

Plaid, striped, checked, formal, and tweed all work. Trousers must fit all the way from natural waist to top of foot with a slightly tapered leg. No Belts.

THRIFTERS: You should have good luck if you look in WOMEN’S SLACKS (watch out for too-light weight fabrics).

7. Socks

Modern dress socks that match the shoes are fine.

8. Shoes

Nice men’s dress shoes in black or brown will work OK, spectator and wingtips came in during the later half of the Victorian era but were considered very, very daring.

THRIFTERS: Look for men’s dancing or formal shoes, very plain.

9. Accessories

A. Scarf: Long, straight wool or silk scarves (the same length as cravats) with a small fringe were worn draped around the neck. (Silk ones are called opera scarves.)

B. Cravat Pin: A small, jeweled pin fastens your cravat (just below or inside the knot) to your shirt. Usually the same kind of design as a woman’s hatpin, such as a single pearl, or an emerald set in gold – only shorter in the stick part.

C. Pocket Watch

D. Pipe

E. Suspenders: Since most did not wear a belt, almost all Victorian men wear suspenders to keep their trousers up. But as suspenders reside under the vest no one knows if they are there but you.

F. Spats or Gaiters (knee-high spats):

Spats and gaiters can be found on line or at your local military surplus stores. Gaiters (the long version of spats) are difficult to find in tend to indicate country “Squire.”

G. Gloves: Should be white or gray, kid leather (practically impossible to find) or cotton.

H. Buttons: All plastic buttons should be replaced with metal or cloth-covered ones.

Most Likely American, c. 1860s. Image from my personal collection, please re-post with attribution. ©GAILCARRIEGRLLC

10. Overcoat (optional)

Three options, all made from either wool or canvas.

A. Trench Coat: A double-breasted coat that falls at least to mid-calf.

B. Duster: A floor-length, single-breasted coat fitted through the waist (think matrix).

C. Great Coat: Cut like either of the above but with one, two, or three capes attached over the shoulders.


Men (or Madame Lefoux), when you walk into a thrift store you should zero-in on these sections

  • Women’s Scarves = cravat or scarf
  • Men’s Shirts = white dress shirt
  • Women’s Vests = waistcoat
  • Women’s Coats = jacket to make into tails
  • Men’s Jackets = tails
  • Women’s Slacks = trousers
  • Men’s Shoes = dress shoes
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Congratz for wading through such a massive post!

Feel free to comment with your own tips and tricks! Also this post is a bit old so some of this may be out of date.

Yours (currently getting RID of costuming),

Miss Gail

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  • Coop de Book for October 2019 is Bloodlust & Bonnets by Emily McGovern (comic). I bit spendy but it will make a GREAT Christmas gift. 


Reticence: The forth and final Custard Protocol Book!


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Bookish and proper Percival Tunstell finds himself out of his depth when floating cities, spirited plumbing, and soggy biscuits collide in this delightful conclusion to New York Times bestselling author Gail Carriger’s Custard Protocol series.



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1862 Ladies' Companion August Parasol blue Teal Cloak Victorian

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Rococo Red Gail Carriger Office

In my red & cream rococo outfit, also thrifted combo of two robes, 2 prom dresses, 2lace skirts, and a lot of trim.

Your Tisane of Smart . . .

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