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.
Henry “Monty” Montague was born and bred to be a gentleman, but he was never one to be tamed. The finest boarding schools in England and the constant disapproval of his father haven’t been able to curb any of his roguish passions—not for gambling halls, late nights spent with a bottle of spirits, or waking up in the arms of women or men.
But as Monty embarks on his Grand Tour of Europe, his quest for a life filled with pleasure and vice is in danger of coming to an end. Not only does his father expect him to take over the family’s estate upon his return, but Monty is also nursing an impossible crush on his best friend and travelling companion, Percy.
Still, it isn’t in Monty’s nature to give up. Even with his younger sister, Felicity, in tow, he vows to make this yearlong escapade one last hedonistic hurrah and flirt with Percy from Paris to Rome. But when one of Monty’s reckless decisions turns their trip abroad into a harrowing manhunt that spans across Europe, it calls into question everything he knows, including his relationship with the boy he adores.
Fiction Historique – Young Adult
After months of seeing The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue all over the internet, I eventually caved and started this novel. I was very anxious about it at first because I had never read any historical fiction before. But all the great reviews convinced me to give it a shot, and I’m glad I did.
I was afraid not to like it, and I ended up loving this novel. So much so in fact that halfway through the audiobook (god bless that Audible free trial), I decided to get myself the hardback.
The main strength of this novel are the characters. Indeed, the story heavily relies on our golden trio. Funny and endearing, I loved Monty, Percy and Felicity right from the start. Monty’s sarcasm was his main appeal and I loved reading from his perspective. But as I kept reading, I realize there was more than met the eyes with him. His growth throughout the book and the evolution of his relationship with Percy were amazing. Percy who is, by the way, a very moving character dealing with quite a lot of very hard issues.
“God bless the book people for their boundless knowledge absorbed from having words instead of friends.”
But, more than anything, I LOVED Felicity. She’s a young bad-ass female character who knows what she wants. I love that despite the time and prejudices, she’s determined to learn about medicine. I can’t wait to see what’s coming for her in the second novel, The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy.
Furthermore, I loved the plot, which really surprised me. Because, while reading the synopsis I assumed this novel would be all about the characters. And it definitely is. But there’s also a strong storyline with lots of twist and turns. Despite a slow pace, I found myself really pulled into that story.
Plus, I loved the road trip aspect of The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue. Obviously, this is an old-school, 18th century kind of road trip. But nevertheless, the road trip feel is there: going from city to city, chapter after chapter.
Finally, I must applaud the author for dealing with such difficult topics. Abuse, racism, sexism or alcoholism are just a few of the topics covered in this novel. The author makes us realise that even though this story is historical fiction, those problems are still very real to this day. Monty’s open and assumed bisexuality is just one example of how important this book is.
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