A Strong, Inspiring Female Lead | The Lady's Guide to Petticoats and Piracy by Mackenzi Lee

Friday, January 22, 2021

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

ublisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Publication Date: 10/2/18
Pages: 450
Source: purchased

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.
All Felicity wants in life is to study medicine in a proper setting, to learn from the best professionals in the field. She moved to Scotland to have the most opportunities to apply as a student. However, each board of directors say the same thing: “Unfortunately, you can’t study here. You’re a woman.” Felicity is so tired of being turned away. When she gets news that her idol, the famed Dr. Alexander Platt, is leaving for an expedition and might take her on, Felicity may have stumbled on some good luck, after all. The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy by Mackenzi Lee is the wonderful companion to The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue.

Mixed Reviews

  • Going into The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy, I was a bit hesitant. There are quite a few mixed reviews on the book. And while reading The Gentleman's Guide, I always seemed to find Felicity rather annoying and mean. The Lady’s Guide follows Felicity’s story after the events of The Gentleman's Guide. As much as I would have loved Lee to have picked up right where she left off, The Lady’s Guide takes place a few months after the ending of the previous book. 

Shining Characters

  • Mackenzi Lee wowed me with her superb writing in The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue. The historical backdrop makes for a lovely drama. Her characters have always felt contemporary—not only from their tone and perspective but because Lee makes all her characters extremely relatable.
  • Monty and Percy make an appearance. And despite Monty being a shining star, he doesn’t upstage Felicity in her own novel which is a feat. They were my favorite characters from the previous book so it was delightful to check in on them to see what they've been up to since the Tour.
  • Felicity’s dream is to study medicine. She has had such a trying time of it too—because she is a woman in a historical society, it is difficult to make this dream of hers come true. The repetition of her inner monologue of "I am a woman. I am capable" starts out empowering but becomes a bit repetitive. Felicity shows time and time again that she is certainly capable of becoming a doctor as she stitches up her comrades with no trouble whatsoever, etc. Readers could do without the constant reminder of her inner voice when we've have already seen it for ourselves.
  • Despite the repetition, her drive is quite admirable and inspiring. Felicity is determined to become a doctor, in any way possible. She travels a long way for the chance and continues to surprise readers at how far she is willing to go for her dream. She is also a fantastic role model for young girls.
  • Johanna is introduced as Felicity’s childhood friend and Dr. Platt’s fiancé. She is my new favorite character in this one. Joanna is a woman of her time, yet doesn’t let societal rules stifle her. She is feminine, yet headstrong and intelligent. Her character opens up a few discussions in the difference of opinions on gender equality. I adored her throughout the novel. 

Important Discussions

  • Whereas The Gentleman’s Guide was an epic road trip adventure, The Lady’s Guide speaks volumes to girl power and discusses the strength and rights of women in a world ruled by men. This theme may take place in a historical society of the 1700s but it will also strike home to readers at its timeliness.
  • Lee brings more to her discussion on gender roles in the author’s note which is certainly a must read. She breaks down each aspiration the female leads had, giving readers a look of real-life history. Lee also makes a few book recommendations to find out more on each subject—you can bet I'll be checking out the pirate book she mentions! 
  • Despite the title giving it away, there are pirates. However, they aren't formally introduced until past the halfway point which is rather disappointing. Though the wait for them to appear is certainly worth it as Lee enchants us with a new take on pirates. In The Lady’s Guide, pirates are the sort to protect their sea boundaries and all that live within their waters. And, of course, threaten those who come too close. Lee opens another discussion here, this time about environmentalism and the importance of protecting rare wildlife. Despite the lack of pillaging and plunder from the pirates, there are some well-written action sequences abroad the ships!

Time to Say Goodbye, Or Is It?

  • Both Monty and Felicity will always have a place in my heart—as well as all the amazing side characters of these books: Scipio, Sim, Johanna, and Percy. Mackenzi Lee has created such a fantastic adventure series. 
  • While I thought there weren't any more siblings, Mackenzi Lee has surprised us with another installment of the Montague Siblings series, which I'm eagerly anticipating. It's set to release in November of 2021 (but the date has been pushed back so many times that it may even change again, though I hope not). I am looking forward to hearing what the siblings have been up to!


The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy by Mackenzi Lee was, unfortunately, not as good as The Gentleman’s Guide. However, comparison aside, this book has the ability to move mountains—it begins such fantastic discussions, creates an inspiring role model for readers, and the superb writing makes for some amazing scenes! 

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  1. I loved Felicity in Gentleman's Guide, and was thrilled when her book was announced. To see her grow and shine was wonderful. Ms. Lee presented us with three female leads, all very different, all in varying degrees of displaying their femininity, and all equally strong and badass. I loved that.

    And I loved this book so, so much. I think I needed it.