• The Bilingual Reader

“The gentleman’s guide to vice and virtue” by Mackenzi Lee

Updated: Mar 20


Act 1: Geneva Airport, Switzerland.

A girl is sitting on the floor, reading a book.

Act 2: The girl misses her plane to Sofia, Bulgaria.

The girl doesn’t mind. The book is good.

Act 3: Book and girl end up in Warsaw, Poland. Not even close to home.

The girl still doesn’t mind. The book is really good.

 Yep, that is a real story starring me as  “The girl” and “The gentleman’s guide to vice and virtue” as “The book”. 

 On the day I bought and started reading this book, my friend and I missed our plane, boarded a train to the countryside without a ticket, talked about orchids in dim lighted waiting room of a train station in the middle of nowhere, spend a night on an airport in a foreign country, took a plane to a third country, met weird people along the way, took another plane, than another train and after more than 40 hours of travel, finally crashed into our beds. 

 And if that’s not a book-to-life adaptation of this book, I don’t know what is. I’ll explain…

 “The gentleman’s guide to vice and virtue” by Mackenzi Lee is a historical fiction novel, that follows a group of friends on their Grand Tour of the Continent.

“The Grand Tour was a journey through the prominent cities of Europe, undertaken by upper-middle- and upper- class young men, usually after completing their formal education.” “The purpose of the Tour was twofold: partly to expand yourself culturally […] and party to sow those wild oats, and get the drinking, partying, and gambling out of your system before returning home to become a functioning member of society.”

 In the beginning of the book Henry Montague and his best friend Percy are set to go to on a tour. Their last hurray before “settling down”. Monty will take over his parents estate work, and Percy will go to law school in the Netherlands. Monty’s sister Felicity is joining them too as she is on her way to “finishing school”.

“Clean up, sober up, stop letting lads climb in through your bedroom window at night or else.” “Try to be a gentleman, Henry. Just try.”

 And it sounds good, but it’s not because:

  1. Henry Montague really doesn’t want to be a gentleman, or to work on the estate, especially with his resentful father.

  2.  He is hopelessly, madly in love with Percy.

  3.  Also, Percy might not feel the same way.

 On top of that their bear-leader – Lockwood, is very strict, to say the least. 

That’s how their Tour starts: 

Percy and his fiddle, Felicity and her books, Lockwood and his insufrible enthusiasm and Monty with a hangover. That’s all you need to know for now.

This is a book about an epic journey, full of hilarious lines and absurd moments, written in the most whimsical way possible!

 It’s amazing how many social issues are incorporate in this story. 

• Percy’s skin is “the color of sandalwood” – it’s implied that his mother is from Barbados – a place where his father’s family has an estate. There are a lot of moments in with we can see the different way the society treats Percy because of that. 

• As I mentioned, Monty is bisexual, so his father’s disappointment of him has been a big part of his life.

• Felicity, Monty’s sister is all about equal rights and opportunities for man and women. 

• There is also the idea that some of diseases we now know to be physical (like epilepsy) were treated like “a spiritual disorder’s” and that the people suffering from them, are to be shunned by society.

• The book also gives us a look into the politics of 1720’s France and the way the upper class society functions. 

 It was really interesting to see there topics in the context of 18’s century setting. It Is evident that Mackenzi Lee has really put a lot of effort and research into this book, making sure it’s as accurate to the era.

 This is a delight to read! The next book in the series, will be centered around Felicity, and I cannot wait for it! 

#EnglishReview #LGBT #YoungAdult

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Teddie Rafailova

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