Brilliant, stubborn, and very prickly Felicity Montague has set out into the world on her own, determined to gain entry to medical school and the recognition of the men who reign supreme in the world she so fiercely desires entry to, a not-so-easy task for a young lady no longer of means in 18th century Edinburgh. When an unwanted marriage proposal sends her rather abruptly back to London to stay, unannounced, with her brother Monty and his partner Percy in their tiny (and, let’s be honest, rather squalid) flat, Felicity is bedraggled and irate, but undeterred. So when, after a disaster of an interview with the board of surgeons at a London hospital ends in still more rejection, Felicity hears that her hero, the revolutionary Dr. Alexander Platt, is gathering scientists for an expedition after his impending wedding in Stuttgart, she knows that this must be where her path lies. Especially because Dr. Platt is marrying her childhood best friend, Johanna Hoffman. Never mind that Felicity and Johanna’s friendship is, perhaps, currently a bit non-existent due to a spectacular falling-out. Or that Felicity has neither means nor transport to travel to the Continent in under three weeks. She is nothing if not resourceful.
When Monty’s pirate friends turn up with new sailor in tow who also has an interest in Stuttgart and the Hoffman family, Felicity decides to ignore the perhaps slightly dubious motivations of a pirate wanting to gain entrance to the home of a wealthy society family. Together, she and Sim, the pirate girl, set off for Germany and the future.
What follows is a quest across oceans and into the realm of the impossible as Felicity travels deep into the heart of her own passions and thirst for knowledge – and to feel as through she deserves to not just take up space in the world, but to be in complete control of her own fate and future. Fiercely feminist, wickedly funny, and full of historical detail, this marvelous tale of friendship, family, exploration, thievery, pirates, one very large (and very slobbery) dog, the high seas, exotic discoveries, and sea dragons (!!) was so much more than I wanted it to be. If you’ve already read the tale of Monty, Percy, and Felicity’s Tour in The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue, you already love these characters, so pick up The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy and follow them off the map of the known world – and learn just how versatile petticoats really can be.