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The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee - Review

Monday, March 11, 2019

Where did I get it? I bought it upon the recommendation of my friend Lucinda. 

What's it about? It's set in the 1720s, firstly in England, where we meet Henry Montague. He is eighteen and about to go off on his Grand Tour around Europe before settling down to run his father's estate. He's in some disgrace, having been expelled from Eton after being found messing around with other boys, so is under strict instruction from his father that if he is caught doing the same again, he will be disinherited. 

Monty takes off to the continent with his best friend, Percy, and his sister, Felicity, under the watchful eye of Mr Lockwood, their cicerone. They go to Paris, where Monty soon runs into trouble, and they have to take off for Marseilles. 

Monty is in love with Percy, who he's known for most of his life, but Percy doesn't know it. Percy is biracial, and is treated badly by some of the people around him because of it. Monty doesn't like his sister, and finds her often too reminiscent of their abusive father. The party will drop her off at finishing school in Marseilles, even though she really wants a proper education, but can't, because she's a girl.

That's the basic premise, but this is a long book and TONS happens. It's a real romp of a story, with plenty of excitement and twists and turns. It reads a lot like fanfic, and in the back Mackenzi Lee freely admits it's full of tropes - and that's a good thing! It's a really FUN book, I found it utterly gleeful and lovely to read. Monty is an irascible but loveable character, I really liked him. 

What age range is it for? 14+, probably 

Are any main characters LGBTQ+? Well, the terms we use nowadays definitely weren't in use then, but yes, there's definitely a story around this theme. I will also warn for homophobic violence, which is quite hard to read, but I loved the way it was done. 

Are any main characters people of colour? Yes, Percy is mixed race, as I've said. Mackenzi Lee talks about this in the back of the book. 

Are any main characters disabled either mentally or physically? I'm not going to post a spoiler, but yes. I thought the way this was handled was really well written, utterly realistic and a little bit heartbreaking too 

Is there any sex stuff? There's some nudity, but nothing very explicit. A lot of it is implied. 

Are drugs mentioned or used? I don't think so 

Is there any talk of death? Yes, but it's not graphic. There is some violence. 

Are there swear words? Not really - I actually really liked the 18th century slang! 

What criticisms do I have? None! It's a fun book. 

Would I recommend the book? Yes, especially if you like fanfic AUs where people go off to sea or get involved in japes and scrapes. 

Why did I choose to read it at this point in life? I didn't buy it that long ago, but it was already on the shelves, and I was looking through them, remembered how much Lucinda had liked this book, and decided to pick it up. 

What other books is it like? It reminded me of the Raven Cycle in terms of the camaraderie between the characters. 

How many stars? Four out of five. 

Where is the book going now? I'll definitely keep it... and probably buy the sequel!

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