Published by HarperCollins, HarperCollins - AU on October 2, 2018
Genres: Historical, Young Adult, LGBT, Fiction
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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.
After reading and loving the audiobook of The Gentlemen’s Guide to Vice and Virtue earlier this year, we were both highly anticipating The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy. Featuring Monty’s vivacious sister Felicity, who is ambitious and asexual, we knew we were going to be in for an adventure. But what did we both think of the sequel? Find out our thoughts below!
Jeann: So I listened to Gentlemen’s Guide on audiobook which by the way, is absolutely fantastic on audio and you should all listen to, and read this one on my Kindle. I definitely liked the first book a lot more in terms of the plot and the character voices. I know you listened to the audiobook Jenna, what were your thoughts on it?
Jenna: Yep, I listened to the audiobooks of both and really recommend them. I do also own physical copies of the books but the narrators do such a good job and really enhance the reading experience that I found myself listening to both books in their entirety. I really enjoyed the Gentleman’s Guide but I connected with the plot of the Lady’s Guide a bit more. I found the first book to jump around a bit in terms of the plot and was a little bit of a mess, while this companion novel had a better thought out plot, in my opinion. I especially enjoyed all of the adventures in the book and that there was a lot of travel to other cities and countries. I think the fact that I am a STEM girl also made the plot a bit more appealing to me because there is a lot of focus on medicine and scientific research.
Jeann: I was glad that Felicity set out to become a doctor, despite the times and gender norms fighting against her, and for that I was really glad that the book started off with her going after her dreams. She was a really motivational character, but there were times when her character grated on me – I don’t know whether it was because she was so set in her ways, that sometimes her attitude came off as a bit offputting. My main issue was about the way she treated her ex-best friend Joanna, and the strong “I’m not like other girls” vibe she had. She pretty much wrote Joanna off as “a typical girly girl” with no ambition just because she liked to dress up and go to parties. I’m kind of glad that a big part of her character development was to look beneath the surface and overcome her own internal prejudices. What did you think of Felicity?
Jenna: I can’t say that I liked Felicity as much as Monty in the first book but I still thought she was an interesting character… and Monty gets some substantial page time in this book too! I wasn’t a huge fan of Felicity in the first book – I found her to be a little bit obnoxious and standoffish – and it was nice to get to know her true character in the Lady’s Guide. I also really loved a lot of the side characters and some of my favourite scenes in the book were ones where all of the characters were together and we could see how they interacted.
Jeann: I definitely liked Monty better than Felicity too, mainly because of his smarmy, obnoxious remarks which were so hilarious, but what really made the side characters for me was how the unlikely girl squad was made up of strong woman fighting against the norm. From Felicity wanting to become a doctor, to Joanna fighting against the grain in her own way, to Sim, the black pirateer who has a secret mission, there was never a dull moment when it came to this crew. While I liked how dastardly and secretive Sim was, it was kind of weird how Felicity trusted her from the start just because she was blinded by her own ambition – I just felt really uncomfortable about Sim being cast as a dodgy, untrustworthy character from the start – and the fact that she is a POC kind of rubbed me the wrong way as well. What did you think of the side characters and the representation?
Jenna: I agree with you on this point. I was really excited when Sim was first introduced because of the fact that she was a badass pirateer but it was a bit disconcerting that we had to doubt her at every turn. And the fact that all of her wishes, beliefs, and culture were disregarded so easily by Felicity and Joanna in favour of what these two European girls wanted instead. I did enjoy Joanna as a character, including her tenacity and persistence, but I didn’t so much enjoy that Joanna and Felicity were seen as these heroines when they were practically doing what the villains in the story were doing. There is some asexual representation in the book, which is nice and much appreciated but it wasn’t featured prominently in the book and felt slightly jarring everytime it was brought to focus. What did you think?
Jeann: I did like how the book addressed a lot of misconceptions when it came to asexuality, specifically where others disregarded Felicity’s sexual preference as lack of experience – eg. how do you know what you don’t want, if you’ve never experienced it? I haven’t read a lot of books with asexual characters before, so I was glad it was covered so frankly here and how Felicity stuck to her guns as well on the matter. It was also great to see more LGBTQIA+ rep, with Sim being interested in women as well, but again, the way she tried to “convince” Felicity to give it a shot despite her insistence against it was another red flag with the way her character was portrayed.
Jeann: I enjoyed Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy with its strong women, but I definitely think there were a few issues when it came to POC representation and blatant messaging when it comes to feminism and not being like other girls. Because of this, I preferred The Gentlemen’s Guide to Vice and Virtue.
Final rating: 3.5 stars
Jenna: Despite some of the issues I had with the book, I enjoyed the plot and the adventures that the girls went on. It was a nicely paced story and I enjoyed it as much as I did The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue.
Final rating: 4 stars
The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy is available for RRP$19.99 from Australian bookstores or The Book Depository.
Thanks to Harpercollins Australia for sending me this review copy!