The Quotable Mackenzi Lee,
The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy
13 Times Mackenzi Lee Drops Knowledge Bombs
I don’t know that I had any real expectations for The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy by Mackenzi Lee.
And I was blown away. This book has everything I wanted and more. Rich children fallen from wealth! A flawed, strong female protagonist! A queer lady pirate of color! A sensitive, beautiful, kick-ass sidekick! A girl gang I definitely want to be a part of!
Science! Treachery! Piracy! Mystery!
Seriously, The Lady’s Guide has it all. I fell in love with this book and Fecility about ten pages in. She’s laugh-out-loud funny (at least chuckle-worthy!) and watching her grow throughout the book is a joy. The Lady’s Guide addressed racism, sexism, sexuality, colonialism, homophobia, disability, and even menstruation with a smartness, humor, and sensitivity not always seen in YA. Plus, I felt camaraderie Felicity when she was at a fancy party and opts to socialize with the dog, rather than the other party-goers. A girl after my heart!
One thing that struck me is how quotable The Lady’s Guide is, so I bring you my favorite quotes (no spoilers!):
When Felicity is trying to convince herself:
“You deserve to be here. You deserve to exist. You deserve to take up space in this world of men.”
When Felicity takes on a room full of doctors:
“That policy is antiquated and fooled, sir.”
“Antiquated is quite a large word madam,” he says.
So is patronizing, I think, but bite my tongue.
“You seem hysterical now.”
“I’m not,” I say, annoyed that my voice pitches on the second word. “I am speaking passionately.”
(Soon after this exchange, Felicity mentions menstruation and a room of wealthy, educated men burst into flame.)
When Sim calls Felicity out on her “other girls” baggage (one time of many!)
“No one calls a girl spirited or opinionated or intimidating or any of those words that you can pretend are complementary and means to be. They’re all different ways of calling her a bitch.”
Her fingers tug at the ends of my hair. “You’ve heard these words a lot, have you?
“Girls like me do. It’s a shorthand for telling them they’re undesirable.”
“Girls like you.” She laughs outright this time…”The only girls who talk like that are the ones who assume there are no other women like them in the world.”
“I’m not saying I’m a rare breed,” I reply. “I just mean…you don’t meet many girls like me.”
“Maybe not, Sim replies…”Or maybe you don’t look for them.”
One of many disagreements between Johanna and Felicity
“You made it clear you thought me less of a woman because I don’t care about balls and card parties and boys and ridiculous blue dresses.”
[Johanna] folds her arms. “Well, you seemed to think I was less of a person because I did.”
Life advice from Johanna:
“Everyone should give themselves an aspirational fake name.” – Johanna
Johanna, calling out Felicity AGAIN, because she has a lot to learn:
“I’m not telling you how to feel, I’m telling you how yo make me feel. I felt so silly for so long because of you. But I like dressing this way…I like curling my hair and twirling in skirts with ruffles, and I like how Max looks with a big pink bow on. And that doesn’t mean I’m not still smart and capable and strong.”
Felicity, having one of many, many, moments of growth:
Not ridiculous, I correct myself. Softness can be an armor, even if it isn’t my armor.
Sim, standing her ground:
You expect me to believe that just because your intentions are noble, all the English are? Or all Europeans? The Imazighen- who you would call the Berbers, have already fought wars over [redacted]. We don’t need to fight you too.”
Felicity having a(nother) revelation:
“As I watch the other passengers, it’s hard not to notice that Johanna and I are some of the only fair-skinned Europeans abroad, and the three of us are some of the only women I can see. I have often been the only girl in the room, but I can’t think of a time I was in the minority like this. It must be daunting for Sim to travel to Europe, knowing everywhere she goes, she won’t be around people like her. Of course I’ve thought of this before…but there’s something about being here…that distills like loneliness of it for the first time.”
Felicity dropping knowledge:
While I don’t think that’s where his head is at, I’ve learned from years of stories passed in whispers that men have needed much less of a reason to do much worse to a girl.
Sim, with more knowledge:
He’d rather follow in the great tradition of women cleaning up the messes made by men.
I guess you could call this flirtation and admiration:
“We’d grow weary of each other eventually…We’re cactus girls. We’d prick each other at a glance.”
“I withdraw my cactus comparison. Or, if you’re to be a cactus, you’re one of the furry ones. The ones that look like they have spines, but if you’re brave enough to press your hand against it, you realize it’s soft…You’ll be the first of your kind. Wild and rare and impossible to forget.”
A tribute to the beauty and power of girl gangs:
In the company of women like this- sharp-edged as raw diamonds, but with soft hands and powerful hearts, not strong in spite of anything but powerful because of everything- I feel invincible.
And my favorite quote, from Felicity:
Everyone has heard stories of women like us- cautionary tales, morality plays, warnings of what will befall you if you are a girl too wild for the world, a girl who asks too many questions or wants too much. If you set off into the world alone.
Everyone has heard stories of women like us, and we will make more of them.”
Don’t worry, I’ve left plenty of quotes un-shared, waiting for you to discover and fall in love with them. I love Felicity, history, and the depths of this book and I know you will too!
Grab The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy from Barnes and Noble or your favorite local bookseller, or your library!