Review: The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy

4.25 out of 5 stars

Try it in your best British accent: “WHOT?!” It’s almost as much fun as this book. The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy, by Mackenzi Lee (Montague Siblings #2)

Felicity Montague, the younger, but in many ways superior, sibling to Henry Montague of The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue, gets her star turn in The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy. And girl, does she deserve it.

Just as all-out wacky as the first installment, The Lady’s Guide kicks off post-surviving the trials of the first book, as Felicity has ensconced herself in Edinburgh. She works part-time at a bakery and tries, in her typical relentless fashion, to be admitted to any medical school or apprenticeship that will take a female student. Which is exactly none. Fed up with losing, and with yet another man assuming her ambition is passing fancy, she lights off to London to try again. With a little help from Monty and Percy, their own situations much altered since the start of Book One, Felicity’s best efforts once again yield little.

But she never gives up. Gumption she sets off on a series of adventures worthy of any man of the day (or today). In Germany she rekindles an old friendship that leads her across Europe, both seeking and using her singular focus and medical knowledge. Lest that seem dull, her quest is absolutely bonkers – and that’s before Monty and Percy join back up. The quest is once again replete with pirates, escapades, escapes, and scientific/borderline-magical beliefs perfectly suited for the 1700s. Was alchemy real in The Gentleman’s Guide? You – and Felicity – will find even more wonder here.

Also like The Gentleman’s Guide, Book Two is chock full of women’s liberation. Not just in belief, but in technique, practice, and mostly in Felicitiy’s inspiring trickery. She’s a heroine for the modern age; image what she’d have been back then.

My plea, again: listen to the audiobook! The accents and voices are marvelous. Even (or especially) every time Felicity’s friend Johanna says”WHOT?” in the poshest, most paint-peeling near-shriek of colonial femininity. It was grating at first, but use context: Johanna is not asking because she doesn’t understand. Instead, she’s employing the equivalent of a perfectly timed “WTF?”; a protest or a reprimand to someone who thinks no woman would dare call them out. As such, “WHOT?!”, and the rest of this book, are glorious.

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