A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Some brief medical information like the anatomy of human hands, or what epilepsy does and how it was treated in the 1700s. Author's note explains historical women scientists, doctors, pirates of the era who inspired some of the characters and events.
Women deserve their place in the world as much as men do; their primary value is not how much they're desired by men. Beauty is not a tax you pay to be allowed to take up space in the world. It's OK to adjust your expectations and even change your goals when you find yourself in unexpected circumstances; make a fresh start instead of trying to force your old ideas to work when they just won't. Don't wait for men's approval or try to fit into their hierarchy; do what you want and need to for yourself, and eventually you'll carve your own place.
Positive Role Models
Felicity is role model reminding girls, women that they deserve a place in the world. She can face many dangers by reminding herself who she is, what she's capable of. She wants to learn for sake of knowledge, understanding. She learns to take opportunities to do that when and how they present themselves, not forcing herself into someone else's idea of how it should be done. She accepts, supports her brother's same-sex relationship even if it doesn't make sense to her. Johanna likes wearing feminine clothes but is smart, strong, wants to be a naturalist. Sim is successful in traditionally male world of piracy but learns she won't be truly happy or win her father's approval by trying to outdo men at everything.
Violence & Scariness
A few fights, scuffles with hitting, kicking, smashing against things. Blood and pain are mentioned but not described in detail. Mention that a husband can force himself on his wife, that men have done terrible things to women; the women have no recourse. A sea battle with cannon fire, shrapnel, gunfire. A chest wound is briefly described but not gory. The carcass of a fantasy creature and people harvesting from it are described. Characters frequently in peril, once from a fantasy creature.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
A few kisses, mostly between same-sex couples. "Fornicating all day" mentioned. Loud mention of menstruation meant to embarrass a group of men. A same-sex kiss is described briefly. Felicity's feelings about romance, physical attraction can be categorized as asexual, though she doesn't use that term. She feels she understands romantic, sexual attraction but just isn't interested in it. Syphilis mentioned.
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"S--t," "son of a bitch," "bastards," "piss," "pr--k" (name-calling), "ass," "bitch," "goddammit," "hell," and "penis."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Wine mentioned as an antiseptic and relaxant. A character pours an amber liquid. A character is addicted to what's thought to be a mixture of opium and tobacco in snuff form. The opium is eventually revealed to be a substance of a fantasy nature that has opioid characteristics. Felicity eats a narcotic-like fictional substance, describes the feelings positively, but she advocates for non-opioid forms of treatment and prevention to reduce or eliminate addiction to those types of substances. A minor character mentioned smoking a pipe.
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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.
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.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.