Title: The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy
Series: Montague Siblings #1
Author: Mackenzi Lee
Published in October 2018 by Katherine Tegen Books
Genre: historical fiction, fantasy (YA)
Rating: 3/5 – I enjoyed it
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.
The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy was one of my most anticipated reads of 2018, because I absolutely adored the first installment in the Montague Siblings duology. The first book follows Monty, Felicity and Percy as they make a Grand Tour around Europe. The second book focuses on Felicity as she tries to make her dream of enrolling in medical school reality.
At the start of the novel Felicity works in a bakery in Edinburgh. Surely, in this hub of medical schools and knowledge someone would allow her to study medicine. Her boss (and friend) proposes, after which Felicity deems it high time to leave and return to England. She contacts her brother to ask whether she can stay with him, and leaves immediately. In London she once again tries to gain entry to medical school, to no avail. Who could ever trust a girl to do such work, after all? We women are way to delicate for that.
The story takes off when Felicity finds someone who is willing to take her to a doctor she’s always looked up to, and who is looking for an assistant. Yet things are never as they seem…
All in all, I liked the story. Watching Felicity battle for a place in this all-male profession is empowering yet infuriating. It makes me so angry to see women get invalidated, and to witness the condescension of men. I was rooting for her, and wanted her to be the first female doctor/surgeon. That aspect of the story was one I was very invested in, and is what kept me reading.
Just like the first book in this duology, The Lady’s Guide is a story of travels. Felicity travels through several countries chasing her dream, and takes us with her on this adventure. Unlike in the previous book, I didn’t truly love this aspect of the novel. I felt like instead of being with the characters on their travels, I was getting snapshots – parts of a movie in which someone went ham with jump cuts. The characters decided to go to a certain city or country at the end of one chapter, and have arrived by the start of the next. Since you don’t get to see that much of their actual journey, it takes the fun out of the whole road-trip/tour for me.
While I really enjoyed the story in general, I wasn’t a true fan of the weird fantastical turn it took at the end. I know that the first book did the exact same, but somehow that progression seemed more reasonable/believable than this one.
I think I would have loved the book more if the author had chosen one genre instead of mixing the two. Either we would have gotten the historical fiction novel where Felicity travels the continents to gain entry to medical school, or the fantasy book filled with pirates.
Felicity, Felicity, Felicity… I absolutely loved your sarcastic sense of humor and communication in the first book. Granted, that didn’t change in The Lady’s Guide. You were as witty as ever, and I greatly appreciate it. You made me laugh out loud and even snort at times. I find your passion for medicine inspiring, and applaud you for not letting go of your dreams.
But I have some things I’d like to discuss with you as well. Why are you so judgmental? Feminism does not mean only supporting women who want to break through in all-male professions and change the world by themselves. It does not encourage you to look down on other women for making choices you wouldn’t make. In fact, it’s the complete opposite. Feminism is all about equality, and having a choice. You want to become a doctor? Sure, go for it! You want to create a loving home and find a partner who adores you? EQUALLY AS VALID. Stop thinking you’re so much better than others because you don’t like to wear makeup, and/or don’t want to get married. Thanks.
Also, can you stop treating everyone so horribly? Johanna did not deserve what you did to her. At all. While Monty is a bit of an idiot, he’s a good and kind guy. You shouldn’t talk about him in the way you do.
To be honest, I fell out of love with Felicity in this book. While I still enjoy reading about her character, she managed to make me incredibly mad at times. Especially when she apologized to Johanna for being such a judgmental bitch, but still went on to judge others anyway. Don’t even get me started on how she jumped to conclusions so quickly. 0 to 100 real quick.
I did, however, fall in love with Johanna. This girl who loves makeup and pretty dresses, and is incredibly smart. I would love a book focused on her life!
Lastly, I have to admit that I lived for the Percy and Monty cameos in this book. I just love them so much!
I was a tad disappointed by The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy. I was expecting an epic journey from a sarcastic woman determined to break through a male-dominated field. That’s only partly what I got. I still enjoyed my time with the novel (and characters), but I didn’t like how judgmental and rude Felicity was, and how we seemed to skip the actual travel through jumps in time.
Have you read this book? What did you think of it?