On My Bookshelf: The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee

June 11, 2018

The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee is so much more than historical fiction. The narrator Monty is hilarious and the novel is full of adventure and action. There's romance in the plot, but also some mystery. The author even tackles issues of race, gender, and sexuality. Read on for more of my review and ideas for classroom application.
The basic plot from Amazon: A young bisexual British lord embarks on an unforgettable Grand Tour of Europe with his best friend/secret crush. An 18th-century romantic adventure for the modern age written by This Monstrous Thing author Mackenzi Lee—Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda meets the 1700s.

Henry “Monty” Montague doesn’t care that his roguish passions are far from suitable for the gentleman he was born to be. But as Monty embarks on his grand tour of Europe, his quests for pleasure and vice are in danger of coming to an end. Not only does his father expect him to take over the family’s estate upon his return, but Monty is also nursing an impossible crush on his best friend and traveling companion, Percy.

So Monty vows to make this yearlong escapade one last hedonistic hurrah and flirt with Percy from Paris to Rome. But when one of Monty’s reckless decisions turns their trip abroad into a harrowing manhunt, it calls into question everything he knows, including his relationship with the boy he adores.

Witty, dazzling, and intriguing at every turn, The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue is an irresistible romp that explores the undeniably fine lines between friendship and love.
The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee is so much more than historical fiction. The narrator Monty is hilarious and the novel is full of adventure and action. There's romance in the plot, but also some mystery. The author even tackles issues of race, gender, and sexuality. Read on for more of my review and ideas for classroom application.

Why I liked it: The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue falls under the genre of historical fiction, my favorite genre, but it is so much more than that. The narrator Monty is hilarious and the novel is full of adventure and action. His tour includes a visit to Versailles that end with him running through the gardens nearly naked,  an ambush by highwaymen on the road to Marseilles, a kidnapping by pirates while stowaways at sea, and narrowly escaping a sinking island. There's romance in the plot; Monty is head over heels for his best friend Percy, but also some mystery; what does the puzzle box Monty steals hold and why does everyone want it so badly? Finally, the author tackles issues of race, gender, and sexuality. Percy is black, as are the pirates, in a time period when people of color were not treated well in Europe and slavery was still in other parts of the world. Felicity, Monty's sister, who is set to go to finishing school, but would rather be going to medical school, is barred from experiences because of her gender. Once Monty and Percy profess their love for one another, the question of how and where can they live a life together becomes a reality.

Classroom application: This is one I would recommend for high school and up because, as the title suggests, it is heavy on the vices: drinking, gambling, sex, etc. The novel would appeal to a wide range of students because it touches on so many genres: historical fiction, action/adventure, romance, and mystery.

If you are interested in purchasing a copy of The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue for yourself, you can find it on Amazon here.

Note: The Literary Maven is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

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