While this is the companion novel to The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue, it is not necessary to read/finish that novel to read (and enjoy!) this one. It certainly is recommend because Montys story is glorious. This happens to be Felicity’s story and I thought I was ready for it. I really thought I was because I loved her tenacity in Gentleman’s Guide but she was better than I could have imagined.
Felicity Montague wanted nothing more in the world than to become a doctor. This seemed simple enough but Felicity lived in a time when women were oppressed and could not be seen as anything other than a homemaker, wife, and mother. That was not the life Felicity wanted and refused to settle for it. She decided to pursue her dream by acquiring a job with her idol – a famous male doctor who just so happened to be engaged to her former childhood best friend. Together with this former friend, they set out to the middle of Europe to try to make Felicity’s dream come true. What could go wrong?
Everything. Everything went wrong. Felicity ran into road blocks the entire way and therein was the grand adventure.
Felicity did not go on her journey with just her former childhood friend, she also enlisted the help from an Algerian Muslim pirate, Sim. No doubt these three had their share of obstacles. With a heavy amount of sarcasm, wit, determination, and common sense Felicity was out to show the world what she was made of. There were times I belted out laughter and wished I could write down the one-liners because they were just so clever. I quickly fell in love with the characters and was their biggest cheerleader. I devoured this book and was sad when it was over. I will always want more of Felicity and Monty.
While I say this story was an immense amount of fun, there are serious topics that are addressed as well. This story was written in a time when misogyny, racism, and more were common. It was nothing out of the ordinary for a male to openly mock a female for wanting to better herself or reminder her that her place is in the home raising children and cooking dinner. Reminders that women were treated like this daily made the story difficult to get through at times. Not to mention the way Sim, the Algerian Muslim pirate, was treated. It was downright heart breaking.
This novel was everything I wanted and more. Lee did an outstanding job of creating characters that were deeply flawed and wonderfully complex. They felt very lifelike and like people I would want to be friends with. The world Lee created was breath-taking, lush, and believable. I often felt I was right beside Felicity on her journey. It was almost magical at how well this entire novel was written. I do not feel I will ever find a book of hers that I do not enjoy. If you have been on the fence about this, you want to read it. You will not regret it.