Review: The Lady's Guide to Petticoats and Piracy - Mackenzi Lee

Lady's Guide
The Lady's Guide to Petticoats and Piracy by Mackenzi Lee
Series: Montague Siblings #2

My rating: {★★★★☆}

YA Historical Fantasy Fiction
Published October 2nd 2018 by Katherine Tegen Books

Source: ARC sent by Publisher
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 voluntarily read and reviewed a review copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.**

I adore Felicity. When I first read The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue, Felicity was immediately my favourite character: While I found myself smitten with Percy and Monty, this amazing girl with ambition and passion and drive just captivated me and reading her story was something I really looked forward to.

Once again MacKenzie Lee has managed to infuse humour, action and adventure with hard hitting and important themes.

Lee also has such a terrific knack for writing the details that make the book feel so real and far less romanticised than some historical fiction tends to be. From the abominal smells of the streets of Moorfields, to the scars on Monty's face to the pills that built up on Felicity's clothes while they rubbed while she walked, I was THERE, for better or for worse and I loved how immersive this was.

I also loved how Lee has explored various representations and expressions of femininity and womanhood. You can be smart, you can be ambitious, you can identify with any kind of sexuality, you can like pretty things, you can be whatever religion you want to be and any or all of these things are completely validated. You shouldn't feel like more or less than anyone else.

To my best guess Felicity is a genius with a lot of quite typical genius characteristics - the exceptional intellect but also a serious difficulty in knowing how to react in a socially acceptable way to people's emotions. In Lady's Guide, Felicity's ambitions and her past seem to collide in a fabulous way with the introduction of her (ex) best friend Joanna, and Sim, the keystone of her entire plan to find validation as a female in medicine.

In the company of women like this—sharp-edged as raw diamonds but with soft hands and hearts, not strong in spite of anything but powerful because of everything—I feel invincible.

Having Percy and Monty back for parts of Felicity's story were just added bonuses.

“I’ve missed you. Both of you.”
I can hear the soft smile in his voice when he replies, “I won’t tell Monty.”

It's also exciting that Lee is seeming to explore the fact that Felicity is quite possibly aromantic/asexual and placed a lot of emphasis on the bonds of friendship and platonic love.

I just love Felicity's journey - both her quest-like journey on the high seas and her character growth. She is such an easy character to identify with: a woman not content with the bonds of injustice that society has placed upon her; a woman smart and driven struggling to find where she fits in the world; a woman who has her own prejudices and assumptions that are turned on their heads. At the beginning of her story, Felicity is the very cliche 'not-like-other-girls' heroine however throughout the book she learns the power of women who stick together and the joys of female friendships. As someone who has been yearning for more books with fierce female friendships, this one was a balm to my soul.

A tribute to women of all ages, of all times I can highly recommend this book.You don't even need to have read Gentleman's Guide although it would help to know some of the characters beforehand - not to mention the possible spoilers.

I do not need reasons to exist. I do not need to justify the space I take up in this world. Not to myself, or Platt, or some hospital governors, or a pirate ship full of men with cutlasses. I have as much claim to this world as anyone else.
The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue (Montague Siblings #1)

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