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The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue Hardcover – June 27, 2017
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★ “The book’s exquisite, bygone meter and vernacular sit comfortably on a contemporary shelf. And the friction of racism, tyrannical entitled politicians, and misguided disapproval of homosexuality also have a relevance rooted in current culture’s xeno- and homophobia. Austen, Wilde, and Indiana Jones converge in this deliciously anachronistic bonbon.” (Kirkus Reviews (starred review))
★ “Tongue-in-cheek, wildly entertaining, and anachronistic in only the most delightful ways, this is a gleeful romp through history. Monty is a hero worthy of Oscar Wilde.” (Booklist (starred review))
★ “This is a witty, romantic, and exceedingly smart look at discovering one’s place in the world. A stunning powerhouse of a story for every collection.” (School Library Journal (starred review))
★ “A gloriously swashbuckling affair.” (Publishers Weekly (starred review))
★Mackenzi Lee (This Monstrous Thing) combines her knowledge of European history with a contemporary, comic sensibility to create an over-the-top romantic adventure complete with cliff-hanging chapter endings and sometimes outrageous narration. Monty is a licentious, flawed and engaging 18th-century hero. (Shelf Awareness (starred review))
“Monty is pitch-perfect as a yearning, self-destructive, oblivious jerk of a hero who inspires equal parts sympathy, frustration, and adoration from reader. A genre tribute, satire, and exemplar in one.” (The Horn Book)
“If you’ve ever mentally shouted ‘NOW KISS’ at a pair of fictional male best friends, this is the book for you.” (NPR)
“Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue is the queer teen historical you didn’t know was missing from your life.” (“Best Queer Books to Celebrate Pride 2017”) (Teen Vogue)
“A rollicking ride that also turns a keen eye to issues like class, racism, homosexuality, and identity.” (Brightly)
“Careening from fete to fiasco on a Grand Tour of 18th century Europe, THE GENTLEMEN’S GUIDE TO VICE AND VIRTUE is a dizzying, dazzling, and roguishly romantic romp. This book makes me want to unrequite my own love so I can requite him all over again.” (Heidi Heilig, author of THE GIRL FROM EVERYWHERE)
From the Back Cover
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 traveling 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.
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This book is undoubtedly one of the most humorous and entertaining YA historical fictions I’ve read, beside My Lady Jane of course. The Gentleman’s Guide is filled to the brim with comedic moments that are balanced out by surprisingly serious topics introduced throughout the characters’ long and arduous journey
Not only does Mackenzi Lee create a fun adventure filled with witty dialogue, bouts of debauchery, and intrigue, she also does an excellent job in exploring the human experience by providing situations and character relationships that inspire deep conversation.
Her characters Monty, Felicity, and Percy are each so unique, well-developed, and multifaceted. Monty, our far-from-perfect protagonist, is self-centered, self-serving, blasé, reckless, insensitive, and cowardly. However, his heart is in a good place. Most of the time, at least. He is hyper-aware and very accepting of his sexuality; however, his confidence falters in the face of his father’s bigoted and domineering presence. Monty’s father plays a much larger role than expected as his treatment of Monty cuts very deep and affects his son’s behaviors in a seriously notable way. It was extremely heartbreaking to read in a book that I thought would be all laughs and jokes. Well, it isn’t, just so you know.
As for the other characters, Felicity was an amazing female character. Though initially insensitive to Monty’s plight, she becomes fairly sympathetic towards the end. She proves to have an open mind, and on top of that, she has agency and a great sense of independence. I was impressed with her experience in medicine and her ongoing pursuit of knowledge. Because of this, I think it would be safe to say she’s the most clever and useful member of the group.
Percy is truly a sweetheart. Only he truly knew how to deal with Monty, and it was very amusing to see how the two boys interacted. I greatly appreciated how Lee didn’t shy away from race and discrimination during this time period and instead dives right into these issues. Percy’s biraciality provides another dimension to this dark comedy and not only that, Percy’s medical condition also provides another topic of discussion.
All the characters slowly evolve and become better versions of their past selves by the end. Monty and Percy’s relationship goes through rough times, but they eventually find their way. And in doing so, they’ve become one of my favorite OTPs!
The story takes a surprising turn and transforms into a hectic, suspenseful journey accented with piracy and a touch of magic/alchemy. Unexpected? Yes. But still very captivating and even more romantic and dangerous than first anticipated.
A Gentlemens’ Guide is a book that expertly balances humor and charm with provocative social commentary. I was very surprised by the darker, more weighty elements. The author navigates themes centered around racism, slavery, domestic abuse, sexism, homophobia, disability and mental illness, dysfunctional familial relations, and so much more. These heavier themes add great purpose to this romp of a good time, and I really couldn’t have imagined a better way of going about it. As a whole, this book is a perfectly blended adventure complete with fantastic characters. A total reread, if you ask me.
Warning: You will read this book in the voice of an English gentleman. It can't be helped.
Due to the immense amount of hype surrounding the book, I was concerned that my expectations would far outweigh the abilities of this book to meet them; and while I can't say I am as enamored with it as most of the book community, I have to admit that this was a very fun ride that I found extremely enjoyable.
This book follows Monty, a product of English nobility, who has been bread to be a gentleman; however, he is more inclined to live a roguish lifestyle and is the picture of debauchery. He likes to seduce both ladies and men, imbibe impressive amounts of alcohol, and essentially live a life against his father's expectations.
As a last hurrah before he is expected to take over his family's estate, and Percy, his best friend and love interest, heads to law school, they are going to take a tour of "the Continent," which is basically mainland Europe. But the tour is complicated by the fact that Percy's father, a domineering and abusive man who is completely embarrassed by Monty's hedonistic lifestyle, hires a babysitter to accompany them on the tour which turns the tour into an overwhelmingly dull experience. It is further hampered by the presences of Monty's sister, who is temporarily accompanying them until she is taken to finishing school.
However, the trip suddenly takes an adventurous turn after the group finds themselves pursued by the Duke of Bourbon who, we come to find out ,is after an item that Monty has stolen from him believing it to be a worthless trinket. The book then takes a turn into the mysterious and magical as the group tries to uncover the importance of this box and then use it to their own advantage.
I'll admit that this story began slowly for me. I was not compelled by the plot until the actual mystery entered into the story and took the plot in a direction that was different from what I was expecting. Thought it wasn't quite a four star read for me, there were plenty of positive points. Here are my favorites:
1. I love the voice in which the story is written. Lee does a fantastic job of capturing the vocabulary and style of 18th century English language. She also has a way of writing that is clever and witty.
2. I also enjoyed the relationships that are formed within the story. I particularly enjoyed how a quasi-pirates essentially take the group under their wing, particularly Monty, and gives him the fatherly relationship he never has.
3. Felicity is the character that truly made this book for me. I found Monty slightly irritating as he was usually selfish, stubborn and cowardly, but Felicity was amazing. She was bold, sarcastic, witty, smart, and not afraid to be brave in a time that was not kind to women.
4. I really enjoyed and appreciated the historical context Lee added at the end of the book. Though it was at the end, it really added to my overall understanding and enjoyment of the plot.
All in all this was a fun and enchanting read. Definitely worth a go
I looked forward to the Grand Tour storyline, which was the selling point for me. But the Grand Tour was but an excuse to get the characters to the Continent—much to my disappointment.
The abbreviated Grand Tour morphed into an adventure/teens in danger storyline l, but that plot was overshadowed by the characters’ (mostly Monty-caused) multiple problems.
Again I was surprised as the adventure storyline was eclipsed by a fantasy storyline about an almost-desperate search for an magical, all-powerful alchemical panacea.
The incredibly interesting and well-drawn characters saved this book for me. Of the characters, I loved Felicity most, not to mention her intelligence, bravery and self-confidence.
This book is written in first person, so at approximately page 150 Monty’s witty, self-centered chatter began to grate. Yes, Monty was funny, but how I yearned for multiple POVs—Percy and Felicity—to occasionally spare me Monty’s voice.
Recommended but if you get this novel, ignore the blurbs about the Grand Tour.
Unlike the majority of readers, I’m rating this 3 Stars.
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