No Life for a Lady by Hannah Dolby | Book Review

“So many private battles are fought between men and women, she said. ‘And so often we do not know what happened, because the women are silenced. I do not know what I will do. But I will not let this man, who is so unimportant to you and me, who is so angry that he is unimportant to us, to invade our lives anymore.”

Violet Hamilton is a woman who knows her own mind. Which, in 1896, can make things a little complicated.

At 28, Violet’s father is beginning to worry she will never find a husband. But every suitor he presents, Violet finds a new and inventive means of rebuffing. Because Violet does not want to marry. She wants to work, and make her own way in the world. But more than anything, she wants to find her mother Lily, who disappeared from Hastings Pier ten years earlier.

Finding the missing is no job for a lady, but when Violet hires a seaside detective to help, she sets off a chain of events that will put more than just her reputation at risk. Can Violet solve the mystery of Lily Hamilton’s vanishing before it’s too late?

4. No Life for a Lady

This ARC dropped in my inbox out of the blue and I started reading it without much expectation. Although, I can’t deny the lure of a good mystery might have had a hand in it.

Violet does not appear to have an aim in life. At least, not yet. Labelled a spinster at 28, her days are wholly consumed thinking about her mother’s disappearance. Obsessed with finding out what happened, she hires a detective without her father’s knowledge. This, however, proves to be a bad decision when he begins to unearth secrets that could likely ruin her mother’s reputation as well as that of her family. Unfortunately, the detective has caught a scent and refuses to give up the case despite Violet’s insistence that she will no longer pay him.

As a character, Violet is smart, courageous, and determined. Her lack of self-awareness can be irritating, but it is 1896 and women have a code of conduct they must strictly adhere to. Violet has more questions than she can possibly ask, which lands her in plenty of prickly situations. She is naïve to the ways of the world but she uses her wit to escape with her head held high. And as you get to know her, you begin to understand her predicament and confusion.

This is a novel with a burning mystery at its core but is also a coming-of-age story about a young woman in Victorian times, trying to make a difference. Her search leads her to another detective, Mr. Blackthorn, who turns out to be a furniture seller. In her efforts to convince him to take her case, she frequents his shop and somehow ends up as his co-worker.

Mr. Blackthorn is unlike any man she has met till date and she often catches herself thinking of him. It is a pity he is married with a large brood for he is perfect in every other way. Benjamin Blackthorn is really the wind beneath Violet’s wings who, albeit unknowingly, puts her on the path to self-discovery.

There are hints of a scandal, a perplexing mystery, and even the possibility of a romance on the horizon. The humour takes a bit of getting into before you realise the awkwardness to it is what makes it funny. My favourite part of the book, though, is Violet seeing herself as a lady typist in her hopes to find financial stability, before she decides she wants to become a lady detective.

A story with an endearing and audaciously sassy protagonist, this was a fabulously quirky mystery-rom-com. One I definitely hope to see more of as the Violet Hamilton-Lady Detective series.

No Life for a Lady by Hannah Dolby. Due to be published on 2nd March 2023 by Aria, an imprint of Head of Zeus. This ARC courtesy of NetGalley and Aria & Aries.

Book 4 of 2023.

Aquamarine Flavours Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟.

Available on Amazon*.

About Photo: Considering this book is set in the Victorian age, I could finally try out something I’ve always wanted to embroider – an antique-style framed silhouette.
This pattern is embroidered in cross-stitch on 14 count aida using Coats Anchor stranded cotton embroidery yarn. The paper frame is made from 220gsm cardstock.
4. No Life for a LadybAbout the Author: Hannah’s first job was in the circus and she has aimed to keep life as interesting since. She trained as a journalist in Hastings and has worked in PR for many years, promoting museums, galleries, palaces, gardens and even Dolly the sheep.
She completed the Curtis Brown selective three-month novel writing course, and she won runner-up in the Comedy Women in Print Awards for this novel with the prize of a place on an MA in Comedy Writing at the University of Falmouth. No Life for a Lady is her debut novel.
She currently lives in London.
You can connect with her on Instagram and Twitter.

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