November’s book club at The Bookmark store was a little bit different from the rest of the book clubs. This is was due to the fact that Mackenzi Lee was stranded in an airport and was unable to video chat with us. Still, that didn’t stop us from having a good time and discussing the book amongst ourselves. Even though she wasn't available via video call, she did answer some of our questions. A few disclaimers! It's only Gabi here. Josie has moved on to a graduate program at SCAD and Luna was working.
This book was one of my most anticipated reads of 2018 and was more than thrilled when it was announced as the book club read. It follows the story of Felicity Montague, who is the younger sister of Henry Montague, the main character of the first book The Gentlemen’s Guide to Vice and Virtue. Felicity wishes to pursue a career in medicine, but due to her being a woman in 18th century England, that career path is one that women were not allowed to even think about. Still, Felicity’s determination to become a physician is enough for her to travel all the way to Germany to meet her idol, Dr. Alexander Platt, in the hopes of impressing him enough for him to take her in as his apprentice. When she arrives, she discovers that everything that she once believed in is a complete lie. Felicity unites with Sim, a pirate, and Johanna, one of her childhood friends, and embarks on a journey throughout Europe, where she discovers more about herself and what she truly wants.
I absolutely loved this book, I loved how incredibly well written all of the characters were. This book breaks a lot of stereotypes about women at the time, and they fill certain roles that are normally filled by men. Once they all unite, it’s like Ocean’s 8, but a little more dysfunctional and a much riskier mission than stealing diamonds. All three women were completely different, and I loved how they all managed to come together and set aside their differences in the face of danger. There was also a lot of action in the book involving pirates, I love pirates and I hadn’t read a book about them in a long time. Every scene involving the pirates was awesome! There are also fantastical elements to this novel that was unexpected, but very much welcome.
We also see our favorite characters from the first book and even though they didn’t appear much since this was Felicity’s story, they play a pivotal role and are still much loved and welcome. Since Mackenzi Lee has a BA in History, the historical background in the novel was incredibly accurate. At the end of the book, there are a lot of historical notes about historical figures that inspired the characters in the novel. Overall, it was an extremely fun read that I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a story that is inspiring and filled with adventure and badass women.
Now, since we could not converse with Mackenzi Lee, she was kind enough to answer our questions via email. So without further ado, here is Mackenzi Lee:
Her Campus at UPR: It would be interesting to read a book about Glass, would you someday consider writing one?
Mackenzi Lee: I don’t think so—but she’s based on a real woman, Maria Meriam, so you can read about her!
HCUPR: Have you thought about writing a third book about the Montague brothers?
ML: I have! Stay tuned!
HCUPR: What’s the best way to combat a writer’s block?
ML: Do something that isn’t writing! Go for a walk, do the dishes, listen to music—let the idea simmer on the back burner of your brain for a while. I find it particularly helpful to consume other media that’s similar to mine, whether it’s film, TV, or theatre.
HCUPR: Have you wondered writing a book in Percy’s POV?
ML: Nope—I don’t think I’m the right person to write from the point of view of a queer, chronically ill biracial man in the 1700s.
HCUPR: Felicity, Johanna or Sim? Who was your favorite from this trio?
ML: Impossible to pick! Probably Johanna, because she has Max the giant dog and a great wardrobe.
HCUPR: Why was Felicity so adamant to be licensed when she could consider maybe other options in the fields of medicine?
ML: In Felicity’s head, in order to prove definitively that she’s as good as the boys, she has to do everything just like the boys do. She has to do it in a way society considers legitimate. She’s almost as obsessed with getting the degree as she is in learning things about medicine.
HCUPR: We noticed that you have a BA in history, has that influenced your writing? If so, how?
ML: Yes definitely!
HCUPR: Throughout the book, there are clues that affirm that Felicity may be asexual. Is it true?
ML: Yes! She’s aromantic and asexual.
HCUPR: If Felicity wouldn’t have the opportunity to read medicine books in her childhood, would she have developed another interest?
ML: Definitely! Felicity is not a girl to sit around bored and purposeless. I could see her being an advocate for women’s rights in many capacities, or going into some other field of science
HCUPR: Would it have been Sybille Glass’ letters and the games Felicity and Johanna played when they were kids that inspired Felicity to be a doctor? If not, what was it?
ML: I think it was a lot of things, but mostly just natural curiosity, and also a desire to understand herself and have control over her body and understand how she “works” because she has so little power in life as a woman.
HCUPR: And finally, did you have a good flight?
ML: Other than the delays! I’m so sorry I missed you all!
Thank you, Mackenzi! I do hope that one day we will be able to talk about your fantastic book in person! Feel free to check out The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy as well as the companion The Gentlemen’s Guide to Vice and Virtue!
The next Bookmark Epic Reads Book Club will be held on January 30th of 2018 at 6:30 PM. The book is The Resolutions by Mia Garcia. You can find more info here. Please join us! There are giveaways and you can get some delicious coffee inside the shop! Can't wait to see y'all!