I am officially declaring Mackenzi Lee the queen of historical fiction road trips. Lee’s The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue was one of my favorite books of 2017 and its sequel, The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy is now one of my favorite releases of 2018.
Picking up a year after Gentleman’s Guide, The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy starts out in Edinburgh, where Felicity has gone to try and talk her way into medical school. When things don’t go as planned (also known as a marriage proposal that she has no interest in and thus flees from), she ends up on Monty and Percy’s doorstep in London to begin looking for her next step. And, despite the men who attempt to get in her way, Felicity finds her chance – her idol, Doctor Alexander Platt, is about to embark on a research mission and rumor has it that he’s looking for assistants. With the help of a secretive sailor, Felicity drops everything for her chance to work with Platt. But of course, Felicity’s life can’t go that smoothly and her interactions with Platt set her on a quest that takes her across Europe and the Atlantic.
While Lady’s Guide does feature appearances from some beloved characters from Gentleman’s Guide, like Monty and Percy, we also meet a cast of new characters, including Felicity’s childhood friend Johanna and Sim, a pirate with plenty of secrets. While Felicity and Johanna lost touch as their interests diverged, Felicity’s dream of working with Platt puts Johanna right in Felicity’s crosshairs. And while Sim becomes Felicity’s travel companion, her secrets threaten to tear their newly found friendship apart. This trio has a very different dynamic than that of the first book, but these leading ladies are complex badasses who you’ll want to root for.
The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy tackles important topics like privilege, misogyny, class, race, and more in a way that won’t scare readers away. Felicity is a girl living in a man’s world, fighting to find her place despite all of the men who keep telling her no. This is a timely message for women, and I imagine it will be appreciated by many readers. In addition, Lee works in discussions of asexuality, religion, colonialism, and historical views of homosexuality and women’s role in society. While it doesn’t claim to be an educational read, Lee highlights many topics that have been overlooked in history.
Lee’s The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy is a strong sequel that lives up to its predecessor. About halfway through the book, I realized that it was one of those rare books that I never wanted to end – I would happily read Mackenzi Lee’s historical fiction road trip romps forever. This is a timely feminist book that features strong women following their dreams despite all of the people trying hard to get in their way. The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy is a must read book of 2018.
About the book:
Felicity Montague is through with pretending she prefers society parties to books about bone setting—or that she’s not smarter than most people she knows, or that she cares about anything more than her dream of becoming a doctor.
A year after an accidentally whirlwind tour of Europe, which she spent evading highwaymen and pirates with her brother Monty, Felicity has returned to England with two goals in mind—avoid the marriage proposal of Callum Doyle, 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 small window of hope opens. Doctor Alexander Platt, an eccentric physician that Felicity idolizes, is looking for research assistants, and Felicity is sure that someone as forward thinking as her hero would be willing to take her on. However, Platt is in Germany, preparing to wed Felicity’s estranged childhood friend Johanna. Not only is Felicity reluctant to opening old wounds, she also has no money 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 will lead her from the German countryside to the promenades of Zurich to secrets lurking beneath the Atlantic.
About the author:
Mackenzi Lee holds a BA in history and an MFA from Simmons College in writing for children and young adults, and her short fiction and nonfiction has appeared in Atlas Obscura, The Boston Globe, Crixeo, and The Newport Review, among others.
Her debut novel, This Monstrous Thing, won the PEN-New England Susan P. Bloom Children’s Book Discovery Award. Her second book, The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue was a New York Times bestseller, an ABA bestseller, earned five starred reviews, a #1 Indie Next Pick, and was awarded a 2018 StoneWall Book Award honor and the New England Book Award.
She loves Diet Coke, sweater weather, and Star Wars. On a perfect day, she can be found enjoying all three.
The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy is now for sale!