Published by Katherine Tegen Books on October 2nd 2018
Genres: Action & Adventure, Historical, LGBTQ
In this highly anticipated sequel to the New York Times bestselling The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue, Felicity Montague must use all her womanly wits and wiles to achieve her dreams of becoming a doctor—even if she has to scheme her way across Europe to do it. A must-have for fans of Mackenzi Lee’s extraordinary and Stonewall Honor-winning novel.
A year after an accidentally whirlwind grand tour with her brother Monty, Felicity Montague has returned to England with two goals in mind—avoid the marriage proposal of a lovestruck suitor from Edinburgh and enroll in medical school. However, her intellect and passion will never be enough in the eyes of the administrators, who see men as the sole guardians of science.
But then a window of opportunity opens—a doctor she idolizes is marrying an old friend of hers in Germany. Felicity believes if she could meet this man he could change her future, but she has no money of her own to make the trip. Luckily, a mysterious young woman is willing to pay Felicity’s way, so long as she’s allowed to travel with Felicity disguised as her maid.
In spite of her suspicions, Felicity agrees, but once the girl’s true motives are revealed, Felicity becomes part of a perilous quest that leads them from the German countryside to the promenades of Zurich to secrets lurking beneath the Atlantic.
I really loved The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice & Virtue so I was really excited to read the follow up all about Felicity. The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy has a very different feel to Gentleman’s Guide but it’s still a great read.
Everyone has heard stories of women like us—cautionary tales, morality plays, warnings of what will befall you if you are a girl too wild for the world, a girl who asks too many questions or wants too much. If you set off into the world alone. Everyone has heard stories of women like us, and now we will make more of them.
Felicity dreams of being a doctor, but she’s stifled by society. She has a logical, curious mind, which I have to admit I might be slightly biased towards, with a science background myself, but I loved her strong passions and her determination to reject the role she’s meant to play. Initially she has that ‘girly-girls who don’t reject their role are letting the side down’ perspective which is very irritating, but thankfully she grows a lot throughout the story. Johanna is plenty of things Felicity isn’t – a society girl who loves fashion and make up but is still strong-willed and smart, and she’s a great counter to Felicity’s black-and-white view of women. Thankfully, Felicity eventually she gets to grips with the idea that in the same way she’s “not like other girls” lots of other girls aren’t either, and that her buying into society’s expectations is part of the problem. Felicity’s exploration of her sexuality is also great, and something I haven’t seen much of: Felicity isn’t sure whether she just hasn’t found the right person to become attracted to, or whether she just doesn’t feel attraction at all. All in all, I thought the characters were one of the strengths of the book, each with their own strengths, motivations and back stories.
Because women don’t have to be men’s equals to be considered contenders; they have to be better. That’s the lie of it all. You have to be better to prove yourself worthy of being equal.
The plot is interesting, and Lee really manages to bring the time period to life. I particularly loved the snapshots of life as a naturalist, which gives an idea of looking back in history and trying to imagine if there’d been a Charlotte Darwin who might have wanted to explore. The overall vibe is Taylor Swift’s The Man meets historical fantasy fiction, which is just great fun to read. I did find the pacing a little off though – I wasn’t really hooked until just over halfway through, which is a lot of book to get through when it’s nearly 500 pages!
Buy it? Definitely worth reading but I don’t know if I’d re-read, so it’s probably a buy-on-a-deal or a library borrow for me.
In a nutshell: More serious and less funny than the first book, but an enjoyable read nonetheless.