Tuesday, 24 April 2018

The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue

Monty can't wait to leave on his Grand Tour with his best friend Percy, his last year before he must settle down and be the son his abusive father wants him to be. He should deliver his sister Felicity to her finishing school and see the sights and sounds of Europe, and drink all the drink. Oh, and Monty is hopelessly in love with Percy.

The great tragic love story of Percy and me is neither great nor truly a love story, and is tragic only for its single-sidedness.

Monty is a high born scoundrel and Percy is mixed race, raised by his aunt and uncle. Felicity wishes to study medicine but as girl, finishing school is the best education she can hope for. None of them is particularly pleased with their situation in life. Their tour should be fun but Monty's father appoints a serious bear leader, with strict rules. If there's any hint of Monty messing around with boys, his father will disown him.

Monty can be pretty insufferable, arrogant and self-absorbed. I found the "he has no idea I love him" arc a bit too drawn out. Percy gives plenty of signs and Monty goes on to pretend he's only interested in having fun. I know that at the time (18th century) it was incredibly dangerous to be openly gay, so a bit of reluctance can only be expected, but it retrod a lot of ground. Monty's the narrator and his tone and attitude can be quite abrasive. I gave him the benefit of the doubt that it was an act to hide his true self, but honestly, could could have done with a few more slaps at times.

Perhaps fashion is just a reinforcement of a lady’s chastity, in hopes that the interested party may lose interest and abandon any deflowering attempts simply for all the clothing in the way.

Percy was very accepting of his friend, even if they do fall out a bit. Monty often makes matters worse for Percy, not really understanding his privilege. I did like Felicity though and she is getting a book of her very own (which I'd be more inclined to read than a direct sequel). She hides her medical textbooks in trashy romances and secretly educates herself. She's not really allowed a Grand Tour, but when things go awry she gets an adventure along with the boys.

It's mostly a fun romp across Europe with loads packed in. It covers not only the attitude to homosexuality but also epilepsy, the fear and superstition associated with it as well as the slow change in medical opinion. There are the courts of Louis XV in Paris, highway robberies, pirates, sinking islands of Venice and an alchemy based supernatural element.

God bless the book people for their boundless knowledge absorbed from having words instead of friends.

I'm glad an author's note was included because I was a little sceptical on the historical accuracy of somethings, but each point is explained. It's well-researched historical fiction even if it does have some modern inclinations.

One of the drawbacks to ebooks is that the length of a book can be somewhat of a surprise. I liked it well enough, but for this type of fun book I just thought it was far too long. I wanted something short and snappy and I was a little fed up of Monty by the end.

POPSUGAR Reading Challenge: 12. A book with an LGBTQ+ protagonist

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Book Source: Purchased

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