No Life for a Lady by Hannah Dolby – review

Published by Aria Fiction

Publication date – 2 March 2023

Source – review copy

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 10 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?

Violet’s life has been altered since the disappearance of her mother. Now, nearly 10 years later, she has decided to find out what happened the night Lily Hamilton vanished. Unfortunately for her digging up the past sets in motion a chain of events that will soon get out of hand. But with the truth be revealed?

Violet is well aware of her place in society. She is a woman, unmarried at that, who is tainted by the actions of her mother. She is determined not to wed, worried that men are only interested in her because of her missing parent, and also scarred by the scary description of the wedding night imparted by her mother before she disappeared. She is aware of the impropriety of engaging a detective but is driven by her need to know the truth. She is soon aware though that she has made a mistake in employing Frank Knight, which leads her to know Benjamin Blackthorn and unwittingly a chance to change her life.

As the story progresses Violet begins to bloom. She becomes more knowledgeable about the world, more determined to forge a career for herself and aware of the social norms she is willing to bend. She grows as a person, and comes to realise that she may not wish to remain a spinster after all. She is very naïve at first, not believing her instinct not to trust Mr Knight. But she learns to listen to her own voice and to listen to those instincts. She learns more about the lives of women outside of her little group of acquaintance and begins to see her father, taciturn and aloof on the surface and then perhaps understands him a little more. Benjamin is a kind character, who clearly finds Violet amusing, even if it is not clear to her and he allows her to follow her dream of becoming a lady detective without question.

There is a gentle pace to the story, it is after all Victorian so it wouldn’t be seemly to be be gadding about here, there and everywhere, though there is a little bit of gadding.

There is room for growth, for both the characters and storylines and I do hope this is not the last we see of Violet and Benjamin.

A fun little mystery with a character that grows on you as she grows into herself.

You can buy a copy of the book here.

(This is an affiliate link so I may make a small amount should you purchase through it. You can also buy No Life for a Lady from your local independent bookshop).

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