The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy by Mackenzi Lee
Felicity Montague is determined to study medicine. Unfortunately, eighteenth-century society has other ideas about what a woman is supposed to do with her life (i.e. marry the kind baker and bear children), and despite her obvious talent, Felicity faces constant rejection in her efforts to achieve her ambition. When she learns that her estranged childhood friend, Johanna, is engaged to a renowned and eccentric physician, she sees it as a unique opportunity and accepts the aid of a mysterious female pirate, Sim, in travelling uninvited to the wedding. Soon, all three young women are ensnared in a far riskier, and more thrilling, quest than any could have predicted.
Felicity, Sim and Johanna form the heart of this book and I loved how distinctive all three were from one another. Through them and their relationships, Mackenzi Lee demonstrates that there is no ‘right’ way to be a woman, and challenges popular notions that romantic love is the only truly fulfilling form of love. Felicity is recognisably asexual and aromantic, while both Sim and Johanna have strong passions and attachments outside of the romantic sphere that give their lives meaning.
The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy is a companion novel to Lee’s award-winning The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue and fans of the former will be delighted to learn that Felicity’s brother Monty and the lovely Percy play a part in her story too. However, newcomers will not miss anything by diving straight into this novel. Just as practical, pithy Felicity is a different creature to the roguish, reckless Monty, so is a story with her at the centre. Felicity’s story is one of resilience, feminism, friendship, claiming your identity, and yes, sea monsters too.
A tribute to bold women in history, The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy is a funny, swashbuckling historical adventure for ages 12+.