Tuesday, January 1, 2019

The Lady's Guide to Petticoats and Piracy by Mackenzi Lee

If this book taught me anything it's this: Just because things are "the way they are," it doesn't mean it's the way they should be.

What It Is

The follow-up companion of sorts to the stellar award-winning The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue (2017), this historical fiction novel follows Henry Montague's (Monty's) sister Felicity as she pursues a career as a female physician in the 18th century when men still didn't know what was good for them. She learns her dear childhood friend is marrying her literal professional idol, Dr. Alexander Platt, a man whose work she has practically memorized and worships. Along the way, she encounters Sim, a daring lady pirate who teaches Felicity a thing or two about life outside of textbooks. She reunites with her friend and sets off on a high-seas adventure in search of medical secrets and a possible career. Monty shows up from time to time. Mayhem ensues. The story certainly ends much differently that it begins, as Felicity puts down her books, picks up her skirts, and makes a go at the real world as a smart, capable woman. 

What I Loved

This book is hilarious! I love a good book that makes me laugh out loud. I listened to the audio narration by Moira Quick, and I swear I was listening to the same flawless narration of the late Katherine Kellgren who narrated my favorite book, My Lady Jane. Monty and Percy were a delight in the first book, but I actually appreciated that this book was truly Felicity's story with a little Monty Mayhem thrown in, much like Felicity's role in the first book. I very much appreciated the great detail the author took in researching medical procedures, terminology, and history. Sometimes I can tell when the author really had to go educate themselves on a certain thing (or they don't know what they're talking about at all), and reading this book somehow helped me feel seamlessly included in the jargon, like I actually knew all this stuff, too. I never felt like I had no clue what she was talking about. Everything seemed medically and historically accurate but explained in very succinct ways. 

This next opinion might ruffle feathers, but my blog = my opinion. Hooray! 

This past year I've spent a good deal of time at work curating and marketing LGBTQ+ titles to the students at my school. Gentleman's Guide was practically monumental in YA fiction as it not only depicted a bisexual protagonist, but he was male and fairly out of the closet AND it was 17-whatever! I really appreciated the way his sexuality was truly integral to the plot but also integral to his character so it didn't seem unnecessarily overdone. Some LGBTQ+ books really push the subject, which can distract from the book as a whole. Lady's Guide is also considered an LGBTQ+ book as Felicity realizes she is asexual and explores whether she is also aromantic. Unlike Monty, however, her sex, rather than her sexual orientation, is what is important to her plot development, and appropriately, Lee does not play that up for the sake of a genre sticker or what have you. I really liked it as a character detail that was important to Felicity, but not to the plot. Well done.

What I Didn't Love

There was very little about this book that I didn't love. Everything developed nicely; characters were realistic; dialogue was very natural. There was a bit of whimsy thrown in at the end that I actually really liked since I'm not the biggest science fan. So I think I'll stop because I'm basically just listing more things I loved. Great book all around.

5/5 stars

Author - Mackenzi Lee
Published - 2018
Series - Montague Siblings #2
Genre - Historical fiction, LGBTQ+
Format - Audiobook from Audible
Pages - 464

Link to Amazon
Link to GoodReads


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