The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue
Author: Mackenzi Lee
“God bless the book people for their boundless knowledge absorbed from having words instead of friends…”
Monty is a bit of a rake whose getting one last chance not to embarrass his father when he goes on a tour of the Continent with his best friend Percy (who he’s in love with) and his younger sister Felicity. Absolutely nothing goes as planned and embarrassing his father becomes the least of his worries.
This book is definitely in my top ten, probably five, of the year right now. It was absolutely adorable. It’s an adventure, a romance, a coming of age and it has some sci-fi like elements that I don’t want to spoil. (Or maybe they’d be considered more fantasy? I mean the alchemy stuff isn’t totally out there.)
But for all the fun its also a book that deals not only with homosexuality but race, gender issues, serious illness and parental abuse and even PTSD from the abuse. And yes, in some cases it’s really just touched upon but considering the tone of the book the author balances everything really well. There’s a cringe worthy scene with Percy and a “well-meaning” French wife at a ball that stands out. Though the abuse is told in flashbacks and memories it was enough to be brutal without going over the top.
I adored Felicity from the time we meet her with her head buried in a book. She wants to study medicine but had to beg just for the honor of attending a finishing school. She’s a great character because she’s smart as whip but didn’t see some of the things that were going on in her own home. While she loves her brother when she learns certain truths about him she struggles to accept and doesn’t always say the right thing but she does try.
Also serious points for Felicity calling Monty out when he’s found with someone’s wife (or girlfriend or mistress- that wasn’t clear) and runs away by pointing out that it was a cad thing to leave her and it always goes worse for the woman.
Percy was probably the weakest of the three characters for me but I think he suffers from cinnamon roll syndrome especially since we only see him through Monty’s eyes and Monty adores him. He’s strong and stalwart loves his friends and stands up for what he believes in. The back and forth between him and Monty was a little annoying at times but you could certainly understand since he knows Monty’s past all to well.
Monty was great. Due to the cover and some of his overly talkative charming while also being completely obnoxious I kept seeing him as Eddie Redmayne- whose a little too old for the character but could otherwise be perfect. (Yes- I totally think this one needs to be a movie!) Him retelling the Biblical story of Lazarus was a standout.
Monty is another fine line the author walks because he is far from perfect. He is like I said quite obnoxious at times and somewhat selfish and he does recognize all those things and he does try to change. He’s one of those that you both want to hug and shake. That does the right things for the wrong reasons but you always understand and see his point of view. Monty (and Felicity and Percy to be honest) are a bit like Buffy era Joss Whedon characters thrown back in time. But I absolutely loved them.