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The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue Summary & Study Guide

Mackenzi Lee
This Study Guide consists of approximately 50 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue.
This section contains 1,263 words
(approx. 4 pages at 400 words per page)
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The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue Summary & Study Guide Description

The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains Quotes and a Free Quiz on The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee.

The following version of this novel was used to make this study guide: The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue. Lee, Mackenzi. Harper Collins Publisher, 2017. Hardcover.

The novel begins in Cheshire, England where Henry “Monty” Montegue is about to head out on his continental Grand Tour with his best friend, Percy. However, it is revealed that Monty was recently kicked out of school and this is his last chance to earn back his father’s favor and return home to run the estate. His father warns Monty that he will be disowned if he does not clean up his act or is caught sleeping with men. Monty, Percy, and a man named Mr. Lockwood leave with Monty’s sister, Felicity, joining until they reach her finishing school.

Their first destination is Paris where they are asked to attend a summer ball with ambassador Worthington at Versailles. Once there, Monty meets the Duke of Bourbon, the king’s former prime minister. When Monty tries to have a conversation with Bourbon, the Duke insults him, making it clear that Monty’s father has told everyone about Monty’s troublemaking ways. Furious, Monty ends up in Bourbons apartment with a woman named Jeanne and steals a box for petty revenge. However, the two are caught about to sleep together and Monty runs mostly nude back into the party before he, Felicity, and Percy can get away. At home, Lockwood tells him the Grand Tour is over once they reach Felicity’s school.

However, on the way to Marseilles, their carriage is attacked by highwayman demanding that they tell them where an unknown item is. Monty, Felicity, and Percy all escape with the box and Percy’s violin case. For the next three days, they travel to Marseilles where they hope to learn about Lockwood’s fate. Once there, Monty recognizes the highwaymen’s leader as Bourbon and realizes they are after the box. When he goes to tell the others, Percy has a seizure and Monty asks an apothecary named Pascal to help. Pascal takes them to their boat and Percy and Monty argue over why Percy never told him about the illness. Then, Pascal brings over two women named Eva and Erensta. They tell the group that the box is a Baseggio box that belongs to an alchemist named Mateu Roble. It needs a cipher to open, and likely contains something important to Mateu’s research. Ernesta tells them to return to the box to Mateu in Barcelona. Bourbon arrives and the group is able to hide under the guise of sick women and he leaves. The next day, they leave for Barcelona.

Once they arrive, they locate Mateu’s house and meet Helena and Dante, Mateu’s children. They learn that Mateu is dead, and the children are thrilled to have the box back. However, Monty thinks they are lying about something. This is later confirmed when he finds a letter from the Duke of Bourbon asking them for an item called the Lazarus Key. The group stays until an opera that weekend where Monty and Percy learn that Mateu is not dead, but imprisoned for refusing to give Bourbon the cipher for the box.

Later, Dante explains that Mateu discovered how to make a perfect panacea, but it needed to be placed in a human heart to work. Their mother volunteered, but the panacea stopped her heart, leaving her in a half-dead state. Mateu sealed her in a vault, unable to destroy her heart and locked the key away. Bourbon wants the heart to heal the king so his family can maintain their power. Felicity worries about the chances that they will replicate the experiment. Monty, who believes that the panacea can cure Percy’s epilepsy, volunteers to go meet Mateu in prison. Once there, he convinces Mateu to give him the cipher, but lies to Dante about it. At home, he opens the box and hides the key in Percy’s violin case before Helena attacks him, demanding to know where it is. He is rescued by Percy and the three leave the home to find a boat to Venice where Mateu’s wife is. However, they are forced to sneak aboard as the boatswain refuses to give them passage because Percy is a person of color.

Along the way, they are boarded by pirates and taken hostage after Monty accidentally reveals that he is a nobleman. On the boat, they meet the captain, Scipio, who Felicity thinks is not actually a pirate. The French Navy arrives and Monty uses clothes and documents they stole to pretend that the ship is his father’s, sending the Navy away. Later, Scipio thanks them and says he and his crew were enslaved during the war, then wrongfully imprisoned when their letter of marque (a letter allowing them to take the cargo of hostile ships) was removed and they were accused of piracy. They escaped when pirates attacked and stole their ship. Monty asks him to take them to Venice, and Percy says that his Uncle (who Scipio knows ) can give him a new letter of marque if Scipio helps them. The crew agrees and they head to Venice.

In Venice, Monty learns that Bourbon is already there. Regardless, he asks Percy to go out into a party on the streets. The two end up kissing and nearly sleep together. However, they get into an argument when Percy asks Monty to run away with him and Monty (who has been asking Percy that the whole book) realizes that they would have nothing to support them. Monty gives Percy the Lazarus Key so he can make his own decision with the panacea, and Percy says he and Monty need time away from each other. Scipio finds Monty alone, but both are kidnapped by Bourbon and Helena. When he learns Monty does not have the key, he tells Scipio to send Percy and Felicity to meet them on the island (Maria e Maria) where the tomb is with the key, or he will kill Monty.

The next morning, Helena leads Bourbon and Monty to the tomb. Once there, Bourbon reveals that Monty’s strict father actually gambled away his own fortune as a teen, and even married a French woman after sleeping with her. It was Bourbon that go them out of Paris. This causes Monty to lose all sympathy for his father, and no longer respects his authority. Eventually, Percy and Felicity arrive and use the key to reveal Helena’s comatose mother. Bourbon tells Helena to remove the heart, but Felicity ends up doing it with surgical accuracy. Helena takes the heart at Bourbon’s request, but throws it into the fire when he reveals that he is going to leave the other three to sink with the island. The four run, with Bourbon leaving himself to die.

They make it back to Scipio, who takes them to an island named Santorini. Once there, Scipio tells them he can take them back to England, and asks Felicity if she would be willing to join his crew as a surgeon. She hesitates, but it is clear that she wants to go (as Felicity has no interest in finishing school, but actually wants to be a doctor). Monty decides to run away with Percy and sends back a letter to his father proclaiming this. He tells his father that he is happy and free for the first time in his life, and will seek his own future without his father’s inheritance.

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