“Felicity Montague is through with pretending she prefers society parties to books about bone setting—or that she’s not smarter than most people she knows, or that she cares about anything more than her dream of becoming a doctor.
A year after an accidentally whirlwind tour of Europe, which she spent evading highwaymen and pirates with her brother Monty, Felicity has returned to England with two goals in mind—avoid the marriage proposal of Callum Doyle, a lovestruck suitor from Edinburgh; and enroll in medical school. However, her intellect and passion will never be enough in the eyes of the administrators, who see men as the sole guardians of science.
But then a small window of hope opens. Doctor Alexander Platt, an eccentric physician that Felicity idolizes, is looking for research assistants, and Felicity is sure that someone as forward thinking as her hero would be willing to take her on. However, Platt is in Germany, preparing to wed Felicity’s estranged childhood friend Johanna. Not only is Felicity reluctant to opening old wounds, she also has no money to make the trip.
Luckily, a mysterious young woman is willing to pay Felicity’s way, so long as she’s allowed to travel with Felicity disguised as her maid. In spite of her suspicions, Felicity agrees, but once the girl’s true motives are revealed, Felicity becomes part of a perilous quest that will lead her from the German countryside to the promenades of Zurich to secrets lurking beneath the Atlantic.” (via Goodreads)
This is a book about womanhood and femininity, about how men have forced unflattering stereotypes onto women and how women carve out space within those limitations. In the beginning, Felicity thinks herself the ideal woman. She’s spent so much of her life being told women are worthless that she’s come to believe it. The less girly she behaves, the more she hopes to be taken seriously by men, but the patriarchy doesn’t work that way. All her efforts are spent trying to convince men to let her into their testosterone-drenched world instead of focusing on her strengths. She cannot improve the patriarchy, but she can create a new system built on equity and inclusion. But first she must shed her own biases against her gender.
For the rest of my review, head over to Tor.com.
I have just taken an overly large bite of iced bun when Callum slices his finger off.
We are in the middle of our usual nightly routine, after the bakery is shut and the lamps along the Cowgate are lit, their syrupy glow creating halos against the twilight. I wash the day’s dishes and Callum dries. Since I am always finished first, I get to dip into whatever baked goods are left over from the day while I wait for him to count the till. Still on the counter are the three iced buns I have been eyeing all day, the sort Callum piles with sticky, translucent frosting to make up for all the years his father, who had the shop before him, skimped on it. Their domes are beginning to collapse from a long day unpurchased, the cherries that top them slipping down the sides. Fortunately, I have never been a girl overbothered with aesthetics. I would have happily tucked in to buns far uglier than these.
Callum is always a bit of a hand wringer who doesn’t enjoy eye contact, but he’s jumpier than usual tonight. He stepped on a butter mold this morning, cracking it in half, and burned two trays of brioche. He fumbles every dish I pass him and stares up at the ceiling as I prod the conversation along, his already ruddy cheeks going even redder.
I do not particularly mind being the foremost conversationalist out of the pair of us. Even on his chattiest days, I usually am. Or he lets me be. As he finishes drying the cutlery, I am telling him about the time that has elapsed since the last letter I sent to the Royal Infirmary about my admission to their teaching hospital and the private physician who last week responded to my request to sit in on one of his dissections with a three-word missive—no, thank you.
“Maybe I need a different approach,” I say, pinching the top off an iced bun and bringing it up to my lips, though I know full well it’s too large for a single bite.
Callum looks up from the knife he’s wiping and cries, “Wait, don’t eat that!” with such vehemence that I startle, and he startles, and the knife pops through the towel and straight through the tip of his finger. There’s a small plop as the severed tip lands in the dishwater.
The blood starts at once, dripping from his hand and into the soapy water, where it blossoms through the suds like poppies bursting from their buds. All the color leaves his face as he stares down at his hand, then says, “Oh dear.”
Thanks to Katherine Tegen Books for sending me a review copy.
Do the world a favor and buy this book from your local indie bookstore or borrow it from your public library.