A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Lady's Guide to Petticoats and Piracy is a sequel to the popular historical novel The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue. Both are set in the 1700s. Reading the first book isn't needed to follow the story, but it will add depth to understanding the characters and some of their relationships. Violence includes fights with hitting, kicking, and smashing with weapons such as knives, swords, and guns. There's a large sea battle and peril from a fantasy creature. Blood and pain are mentioned without much detail or gore. Brief mention once that husbands can force themselves on their wives, that men have done terrible things to women, and that women are powerless to do anything about it. Sexy stuff includes a few kisses, and main character Felicity thinking and talking about her lack of physical attraction to anyone and lack of interest in romance. Her brother is in a long-term, same-sex relationship, which Felicity accepts as positive for them while wondering about being taught that it's wrong. She herself kisses a man and a woman and has no strong reaction to either. A bad guy is addicted to a combination of tobacco and a fictional narcotic that he takes in snuff form. There are a few brief mentions of alcohol, but no drunken behavior is shown. Felicity is a strong, girl-power role model who embodies themes about how women deserve to occupy space in the world and how their value isn't related to how desirable they are, about studying and learning for its own sake to deepen your own understanding, and about finding your own way instead of trying to shove yourself into pigeonholes others have made for you.
What's the story?
In THE LADY'S GUIDE TO PETTICOATS AND PIRACY, Felicity and her brother, Monty, are back on home soil. Unwilling to return to their abusive and neglectful father, the siblings part ways to pursue their own lives and freedoms. Felicity decides to try her luck getting into medical school in Edinburgh, Scotland -- no easy task for a young woman in the 1700s. When every door closes in her face, and the only open door is marriage to a nice guy she doesn't love, Felicity goes to London to stay with Monty and Percy and try her luck there. One night she meets a mysterious female pirate, Sim, who offers Felicity the chance to go back to Europe and join an expedition with one of her idols, Alexander Platt. Felicity jumps at the opportunity, but when she joins Platt, she soon learns it's not for the reasons she'd hoped. Also joining the expedition is Johanna, Felicity's childhood friend, who's trying to preserve and continue her naturalist mother's legacy by following a secret map to a great scientific and natural discovery. Felicity, Johanna, and Sim will have to uncover secrets, fend off pirates, and find the dragon nesting grounds first if they're going to forge their own paths through a man's world.
Is it any good?
This entertaining sequel doesn't quite have the wit and wackiness of the first book, but its more serious tone still leads us on an exciting adventure. The Lady's Guide to Petticoats and Piracy shifts narrators so that now we follow Felicity in her quest to take her rightful place in a male-dominated world. She fights for equal access to education and against being constantly underestimated or seen as valuable only as far as she makes herself desirable to men. Teen girls especially will benefit from Felicity's frequent reminders that she deserves the space she occupies and shouldn't have to hide her skills and talents in anyone's shadow.
But after a while the reminders become so frequent and expressed in pretty much the same way each time that the repetition gets a little dull. And though the overall story moves at a good pace, with excitement and intrigue along the way, it's a bit disappointing in the end that she and Johanna have to be rescued from men by men. It's best for teens who like adventure and who are ready for nongraphic discussions of homosexuality and asexuality. Fans of the first book will enjoy catching up with Monty and Percy as they model a committed and loving same-sex relationship. And teen girls will hopefully be inspired by Felicity's models of bravery and determination to control her own life.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how The Lady's Guide to Petticoats and Piracy portrays Felicity. What are her character strengths and weaknesses? Would you like to be like her, or like one of the other two strong women, Johanna or Sim? Why or why not?
Felicity thinks a lot about her right to "take up space" in the world. What does she mean by that? Have others ever made you feel like you don't deserve to do what they're doing, whether it's because of your gender, abilities, race, or anything else? What happened?
Did you read the first book? If so, which do you like better? Do you like it as much as other historical fiction you've read? What's your favorite historical novel?
- Author: Mackenzi Lee
- Genre: Historical Fiction
- Topics: Adventures, Brothers and Sisters, Friendship, Great Girl Role Models, Pirates
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
- Publication date: October 2, 2018
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 13 - 18
- Number of pages: 464
- Available on: Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Last updated: June 19, 2019
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