Cohen, Jennieke

My Fine Fellow

(2) YA This clever, gender-swapped retelling of My Fair Lady is set in an alternate version of 1830s England ruled by Queen Charlotte (who, a historical note explains, was King George IV's only heir but died before ascending the throne). Gender roles have taken steps, albeit small ones, toward being less restrictive than they actually were at that time, and the profession of Culinarian is reserved for women, with its practitioners revered. Culinarian-in- training Helena Higgins sets her sights on turning street-food vendor Elijah Little into a "gentleman chef" for her final project. Those familiar with the musical can almost imagine the rest, though some intentional plot deviations may keep them on their toes. The mostly jovial novel (full of nods to the source material; song lyrics serve as chapter titles) thoughtfully explores real-world issues: Elijah is hiding his Jewishness; Penelope Pickering, whose ancestry is partly from the Philippine Islands, is passing as white; and Helena's evolving attitude toward both adds depth to her snobbish character. This creative take on a classic musical (itself an adaptation of a play) could stand on its own, but for My Fair Lady fans it's especially delicious.


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