The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue
by Mackenzi Lee
“If the Good Lord didn’t want men to play with themselves, we’d have hooks for hands”
Lord Henry Montague (Monty), a lover of revels and vices, is going on his last hurrah, a trip to the continent with his best friend, Percy, and his sister, Felicity. Afterward he is to settle into his role as the eldest son of his house. Only problem is, he is madly in love with Percy and can’t stand to be around his annoying sister. And of course, as any story goes, the plan doesn’t exactly go the way it was supposed to. Filled with awkward moments, hilarious dialogue, the occasional pirate and a few scandals, this novel is a fun trip around Europe.
The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue had me laughing and swooning from the first chapter, that continued throughout the novel and right up until the very last page. Within moments of beginning the novel, I was hooked. The writing and witty banter made me want to revel in the moment, emerging myself into the story.
Monty in a self-centered, mess of a young man. He can’t seem to keep himself from trouble, whether its with the drink, the ladies, or the lads, he always seems to get himself into the worst situations. While Monty may not have been someone I wanted to idolize, he had several characteristics that made me love him. The dimples. Yup. the amount of times he whipped those beautiful things out was hilarious, and I will be honest, I would probably have swooned too. He may have been cocky, but there is something very magnetic about a character that loves themselves – even if it may have been a tad too much. His love for Percy, and occasionally Felicity, was a contrast to his actions. Despite his reckless attitude, he truly wanted to be better for his loved ones. Monty was a dynamic, hilarious character that had flaws (a lot of them) and became a living being through Lee’s writing.
The plot was a hilarious road-trip fantasy gone wrong and done right. I couldn’t seem to stop thinking about these characters and what would happen next. On top of the wonderfully dynamic characters and scenic setting, the writing flowed with the perfect tone of the novel and rose and fell with the characters and the way the plot was progressing. It may have been a fun read, but sewn into it were some really difficult topics like gender inequality, homophobia, racism, abuse, and illness. It seems that Lee was able to create a world that was fun and engaging by entwining such relevant and pressing societal and economic topics into a somewhat silly narrative. The way it was all handled was done so well and it made for a very real novel and characters that were engaging and easy to relate to.
Overall, I couldn’t say enough about how wonderfully written the characters, struggles, and adventure plot was done. It was a movie playing in my mind that I would read over and over again.