Ever since I met Mackenzie Lee at Sunday Street Team creator Nori’s book event Bookitcon! last year, I’ve been waiting for a new title. The one I picked up at the time, A Monstrous Thing, was a unique take on the Frankenstein tale and it was such a well written book that I wondered what else this author might have in store for her readers.
Luckily, for today’s Sunday Street Team stop, I have an interview with the author herself where I got to ask some questions I had about her upcoming release, The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue,
The Hermit Librarian: If you were going to take your own Grand Tour, what spots would you want to hit?
Mackenzie Lee: I sort of designed the route Monty, Percy, and Felicity follow in the book my ideal tour–they’re my favorite cities in Europe. But if I was going to Europe right now, I’d want to see new places I haven’t been, so I’d definitely hit Prague, Budapest, and the Amalfi coast….and then throw in Venice for good measure, because I’ve got such a crush on Venice.
THL: What about the concept of a Grand Tour appeals to you?
ML: I’m a big proponent of the idea that across centuries, what makes us human and the fundamental components of humanity don’t really change. We all want the same things. The concept of the Grand Tour immediately appealed to me because it reminded me of our modern gap years, and all that Pinteresty wanderlosty travel aphorisms we still buy into. We are still traveling to find ourselves and broaden our horizons, same as people in the 1700s.
THL: What made you want to write an 18th century novel as opposed to, say, a contemporary road trip novel?
ML: I’m a firm believer in the idea that, though the times change, people never really do. Humans are the same across centuries, and I love the idea that, back in the 18th century, young people were seeking out travel to expand their horizons and find themselves, as we often do now. The roadtrip might have gotten faster, but has existed for centuries.
THL: I’m not sure what year A Gentleman’s Guide takes place in precisely, but if they’re late enough in the 18th century, what’s the possibility of Monty and Percy ever having run across Alasdair Finch or his family from your previous novel, This Monstrous Thing?
ML: Ha! The timing is a little bit off–Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue is set circa 1726, and This Monstrous Thing in 1818, so they won’t cross paths without a little time travel. But, if you squint, you might see a relation to a side character in This Monstrous Thing make an appearance.
THL: Monty’s sexuality is mentioned prominently in the summary for A Gentleman’s Guide and even Felicity’s has been brought up by early readers. Why and how important was it to you to include characters from across the sexuality spectrum in a novel that takes place in the 18th century, even without using modern terminology?
ML: It was super hard to present Monty’s sexuality in a way that modern readers would pick up on it, but also is realistic to his time period. Primarily because his ideas about sexuality would in no way resemble ours–even the idea of sexual identity would be foreign. However, I wanted to make sure that diverse sexualities were presented in the book, because queer people have always existed. We often erase those narratives from history, or lump them into monoliths of tragedy. Queer people in historical narratives are generally relegated to being the tragic subplot of period dramas. But queer people have not only always existed, they’ve been able to live full romantic and sexual lives with the people they love before our modern days, and I felt really strongly that I wanted that to be represented in the novel.
Thank you so much to Mackenzie for taking the time to answer my questions and allowing me to share them with you all. I hope, if The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue wasn’t on your TBR before, that this spotlight and others on the tour will encourage you to add it. I’m going to pick up my own copy at the launch event at Books of Wonder in NYC on the 27th. Maybe I’ll see you there!
Until next time, happy reading!
Henry “Monty” Montague was born and bred to be a gentleman, but he was never one to be tamed. The finest boarding schools in England and the constant disapproval of his father haven’t been able to curb any of his roguish passions—not for gambling halls, late nights spent with a bottle of spirits, or waking up in the arms of women or men.
But as Monty embarks on his grand tour of Europe, his quest for a life filled with pleasure and vice is 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.
Still it isn’t in Monty’s nature to give up. Even with his younger sister, Felicity, in tow, he 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 that spans across Europe, it calls into question everything he knows, including his relationship with the boy he adores.
Witty, romantic, and intriguing at every turn, The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue is a sumptuous romp that explores the undeniably fine lines between friendship and love.
About the Author
Mackenzi Lee is a bookseller, history nerd, and the author of THE GENTLEMAN’S GUIDE TO VICE AND VIRTUE, THIS MONSTROUS THING (Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins), and the forthcoming SEMPER AUGUSTUS (Flatiron Books, 2018). She holds an MFA from Simmons College in writing for children and young adults. She loves Diet Coke, sweater weather, and Star Wars. On a perfect day, she can be found enjoying all three. She currently calls Boston home.
Tour Host Stops
6/4 Tour Blogs Stops
Character Profiles – Blame It On The Books
Review – Bookishly Thinking
Review – Charmingly Simple
Interview – The Hermit Librarian
6/11 Tour Blogs Stops
Review – Tween to Teen Book Reviews
Interview – Sarcasm and Lemons
Unique Post (Ships to Travel With) – Roecker Reviews
Interview – Books Buying Beauty
Review – The Ultimate Fangirl
6/18 Tour Blogs Stops
Review – Books and Ladders
Interview – Book Stack Amber
Review – YA and Wine
Review – A Thousand Words A Million Books
Unique Post (Characters in Social Media) – Live Love Read YA
6/25 Tour Blog Stops
Interview – Hopeful Reads
Review – Olivia’s Catastrophe
Review – Bayy in Wonderland
Review – Curly Hair Bibliophile
Unique Post (Mood Board) – A Book and A Cup of Coffee