Cover Image: No Life for a Lady

No Life for a Lady

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Member Reviews

I really enjoyed this book, it was riddled with humour and wit, the protagonist was very engaging and I enjoyed the story immensely.
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This story had me laughing out loud despite some instances of the author stretching credulity!  Back in the early 1900s Victoria Hamilton is determined to discover the reason for her mother’s disappearance ten years ago - though quite why she leaves this momentous decision for so long is unclear!  She hires a rather dubious detective but gets caught up in the detective business herself!  Not happy with the first detective she tries to hire another who has just retired due to a broken leg!  Victoria is a wonderful character who tends to let her tongue run away with her!  She even has trouble with alcoholic dogs at one point!  There is a lovely unexpected twist at the end!  A fun story!
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This book did not work the way that I anticipated. It was a completely different tone than the cover (and the title) led me to believe. If I had paid more attention to the blurb, I would have been more accurate in my expectations.
That said, it is a fun story, even with the sorrow that our lead protagonist has to deal with. Violet had a mother who was vibrant and beautiful. She put her on her pedestal, and not even her having gone missing (with no reports of foul play) has diminished the images Violet holds dear. 
It is only when she sees an advertisement for a private detective who seems interested in taking new cases does she start to do something about her missing mother.
She takes her limited resources and the case to the detective. It is here that the tone of the narrative switches a little. Every escapade that Violet gets into after letting someone 'investigate' the disappearance of her mother is dealt with with a light touch. It is only towards the end that the seriousness of the situation sinks in and actual dangers surface. This tonal difference is probably the main reason for my final rating. 
There are two halves to the plotline. One is of Violet trying to figure out everything about relationships and how to behave as a 'lady' while not knowing the first thing about living out in the wilds of the city. The other is the odd situation with her mother and the scandalous information that keeps surfacing. The ending also weighed in on both these aspects. One was a serious reflection on the end of the mystery, and the other was of Violet's personal life and the number of misjudgements she had to make on the way.
I would recommend it to fans of the genre since this is definitely a different story than the ones I usually encounter with such titles.
I would like to try more books by the author if I get the chance.
I received an ARC thanks to Netgalley and the publishers, but the review is entirely based on my own reading experience.
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I am not typically one for a historical romantic comedy but this one was so fun! It was funny, lighthearted, and had a unique take with the historical aspect!
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No life for a lady filled the brigerton shaped hole that needed to be filled. So sharp and funny perfect escapism. Highly recommend. I can't wait to read more by Hannah Dolby.
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I wasn't sure what to expect of this book, but I'd heard about it on social media and figured it was time for a break from my usual diet of gruesome murder mysteries!

The story focuses on Violet Hamilton, a 28-year old woman living with her father in Hastings in 1896.  Her father has ideas about marrying her off, but Violet is much more interested in what happened to her mother who vanished from Hastings Pier ten years before.  An advert in the local paper leads her to engage the rather odd Frank Knight as private detective.  However, it isn't long before Violet becomes unhappy with Mr Knight's methods and takes matters into her own hands - with the sometimes unwilling help of Benjamin, son of a detective but who would rather have a quiet life selling furniture.

Violet was an absolute star!  I loved that she heartily resists marriage and follows her own path - I was really rooting for her to discover the truth about her mother.  I liked that revelations about her mother started to open Violet's mind to the ways of the world - she moves from naive to more knowing without losing any of her charm along the way.  

What made this book a joy to read was the humour - Violet's naivete was good source of comedy, but Dolby also has a sharp eye for situational comedy.  Violet's attempt to swap a footstall for some help from Benjamin was just lovely, as was the way that she engaged in a battle of wits with Mrs Monk.  Her revelations about the mushrooms also made me laugh so read it to see!

I'd recommend this to anyone who enjoys historical mysteries - it's quite a gentle investigation with some larger-than-life characters on the way.  I wasn't totally sold on all the elements of the ending, but I was certainly glad that we seem poised to get another instalment of Violet's adventures.
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Set in the 19th century in Hastings and St. Leonard’s. This is a story how how women were restricted, especially those of a certain standing, in every way. The way they dressed, acted, conducted themselves and almost how to think.
Violet is 28, old by standards of not being married. Her father is keen for her to be married and brings home a ‘suitable’ selection of gentlemen that Violet knows in her own mind, she just doesn’t like, much to the frustration of her father.
Far from marriage being on Violet’s mind, is the disappearance of her mother 10 years prior.
She decides to hire a private detective Mr Knight who is odd to say the least and in desperation, finds a another detective Mr Blackthorn who having given up the profession, is determined not to take her case on. Violet being the strong minded woman she is, won’t take no for an answer.
It’s an easy read with humour and Violet’s determination and naivety gives you laugh out loud moments.
The story in many ways would appear to be quite modern touching on subjects no longer taboo but would have definitely happened in way described in the 19th century.
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This quirky, funny story is a romance, but it is also the story of a determined woman, a lot of steep streets, detection, the mysteries of male anatomy, the really mysterious mysteries of married (and unmarried) sex, evil obsession, a beard (well, a couple) and the sparkiest heroine who made me laugh out loud. From Hastings to Buxton, this was a delight from start to finish.
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Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for this ARC.

This was a thoroughly enjoyable romp through Victorian Hastings. Violet Hamilton is a great character and you root for her throughout, and I particularly enjoyed her determination to find out just what jiggery-pokery happens in the marriage bed. I did get slightly frustrated at the many fake obastacles put in the way of her and Benjamin but it's all in the name of a good romance. And the added element of her mother's mystery disappearance was a good narrative to drive the story forward.
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No Life for a Lady by Hannah Dolby transported me into the 1890’s, and our strong heroine Violet made that journey quite memorable!


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?

I am beyond thankful to Tandem Collective, Head of Zeus and Hannah Dolby, for letting me join this special readalong. I was lucky to receive an exclusive interactive readalong edition copy, full with QR codes, challenges and topics to discuss whilst reading the book. The format of the book was very interactive and although it distracted me a bit, I enjoyed finding out about this period in history. What people wore, what was popular at the time, how the streets and towns used to look like, what were people’s main professions, and most importantly, what were the women’s roles in society at this point in time.

First of all, Violet is an amazing character. She knows exactly what she wants(to find her mum) and also what she doesn’t want (to marry). She hires a detective to search for her mum, and she’s also quite busy rejecting men left, right and centre – much to the annoyance of her father. 

The more clues are being discovered, the more unsure Violet is about the investigation and the detective. She starts interacting with Mr. Blackthorn in the hopes that he would be a better detective for this case, but Mr. Blackthorn is set to give up that career path. 
The book highlights the era so well, the way women are treated in society and the audacity that men have.

No respect towards women (with exceptions), yet all they seem to care about is reputation. The part that hurt and angered me the most is the lack of freedom, and no freedom of choice. To be rejected for books in a library, to be denied education and a career, if you so wish to have… Yet they are able to get away with murder. In an environment like this, where all the odds are stacked against her, Violet was a breath of fresh air. I loved that she would stop at nothing to achieve the things she wants.Her determination, dedication and sense of humour made this book so enjoyable. The pace of the book started slowly at first, but then it picked up, and by the end I couldn’t stop turning the pages.
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A very unexpectedly  pleasant mystery set in the late 1800s. The mother of a young woman suddenly disappears without a trace. It is as if she vanished into thin air. After 10 years with her mother still missing, Violet Hamilton decides it is time to take matters in to her own hands and find her mother. Or rather, she decides to hire the first detective with a detective sounding name that she could find. Unfortunately for Violet, Mr, Knight was far from chivalrous and his motives not the most pure. The clues he was able to find of her missing mother painted her as a wonton woman who left her family willingly. Did she though?  What danger would Violet find herself in?  Would she ever find her mother?
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This was well written and all the characters were fantastic and relatable. This is the first book ive read by this author and i will definitely look out for others by her!
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General Thoughts 🤔

Historical fiction isn’t usually my jam, however the cover and synopsis of this one caught my attention and I was super keen to give it a go. It was Violet’s character that interested me the most and it was her character that I enjoyed the most about the book. We will come back to that in the next section though.

I loved the mystery aspect to this story and the little mini investigations that I was able to follow along the way. Violet found her niche in the lady detective world and I was 100% there for it.

Characters 👫👭👬

I immediately liked Violet and knew that she was going to develop into a character that I admired and wanted nothing but the best for. I was so happy to see her stand her ground and hold her own in situations when a female of that time wouldn’t usually do the same. I wish that she had been able to do so a little earlier with the dodgy detective, but at the same time I liked the way that the tension between them grew as the story progressed.

I had mixed feelings about Violet’s father. I think that he was a victim of being stuck between different generations. He wanted Violet to follow tradition, get married (to a man hand picked by him of course) but deep down I think he knew that that was never going to be his daughter. I think he admired her independence but worried for how Violet would be seen by others outside of their family home.

Writing Style ✍️

The reason I don’t read a lot of historical fiction is because I have stuck this stigma on it (yes me, I take all of the blame) that it’s not going to be relatable or it’s going to be boring or it’s not going to be engaging enough to keep me interested. What I really liked about Hannah Dolby’s writing was that this didn’t read like is was set in the 1800s and I often forgot that that was the case. Not only that, but when I was reminded, I wasn’t mad about it. There was plenty that was relatable within the story and I was definitely engaged.

Conclusion & Scoring 🎖

I really enjoyed this story and I loved following Violet on her little mini adventures that were all part of her big journey to becoming a Lady Detective.. She was such a fantastic character and completely carried the book. I loved her strong mindedness, independence and her total disregard for what anyone may have thought of her. If there was one reason I would recommend this book, it would definitely be Violet. A great book that was relatively easy to follow and entertaining throughout. I hope to read more from this author and also more about Violet.
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Dolby’s debut novel is the coming-of-age story of Violet, a young lady whose mother left her. Ten years have passed since Violet’s mother mysteriously left. Now at 28 years old (and becoming a spinster according to 1896’s social hierarchy), Violet has decided to take matters into her own hands and hire a private detective to help her uncover what happened to her mother. 

Dolby’s writing was engaging and clear. The characters were enjoyable, and it was a delight to see Violet grow into herself and become self-aware. While this book takes place in 1896, society still contrives to stifle a woman’s voice in many ways. Violet pushed against the constraints of her world and saw that everything might not be as she thought it was. She admits that she’s naïve but recognizes that she wants more from life, and that sentiment rings true for many women today. This book is also part mystery and romance—a perfect blend. 

I especially appreciated how Dolby ends the book. Flaws and insecurities were revealed and required contemplation for the characters. That was an appropriate way to end the book. I hope we will see more of Violet and that Dolby turns this into a series. I would gladly read every book!

Thank you to NetGalley and Aria for the ARC.
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Violet Hamilton doesn’t want to get married. Instead she would prefer to work. Her desire is to become a female detective, which isn’t such a popular idea in the 1800s. Violet has determination, though, and the result is an entertaining story and that will have you laughing, rolling your eyes at men’s opinions, and filled with hope at how just about anything is possible with enough determination.

Violet is determined to find her mom who left without a trace ten years ago. While many people think she is dead, Violet refuses to believe it. Her investigation, because the person she hired is taking his time or so it seems, leads her on quite an adventure with some very interesting characters along the way.

I am interested to see if this turns into a series with Violet as our sleuth.

Thank you to Aria and Aries for the copy of this book. All views are my honest opinion.
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No Life for a Lady by Hannah Dolby

I received an advance review copy for free thanks to NetGalley and Aria and I am leaving this review voluntarily.


It's remarkable how men react when women break the rules... but the people of Hastings are about to discover, women can be remarkable too...

1896. At 28, Violet's father is beginning to fear she will never marry. But every suitor he puts forward, she finds an increasingly creative way of rebuffing.

Because Violet is a woman who knows her own mind – and her mind is on her mother, who went missing 10 years earlier, vanishing from Hastings Pier without a trace.

Looking for the missing is not a suitable pastime for a lady. But when Violet hires a seaside detective to help, she sets off an unexpected chain of events that will throw her life into chaos.

Can Violet solve the mystery of Lily Hamilton's vanishing? Or will trying cost her more than she can afford to lose?

My Opinion

Violet wants to find out to her mother who had disappeared 10 years earlier, she enlists the help of a local detective to discover what happened on that night. Violet is not interested in finding herself a husband much to the annoyance of her father. Whilst this was not a book I would usually have chosen, it is a highly entertaining read. 

This book was one of those that while I thought I could put it down, I found myself picking it up a few minutes later to read a few more chapters. The first half of the book is slow, but the pace does pick up. 

Rating 4/5
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It is not bad. At first, I was really hooked and cannot wait what is going to happen next. But then, it become more boring and boring... 

I like the idea, but I was under impression that alll of that was, in fact, just flat. The characters were kinda boring and I was not engaged at all into their lives.

So... there is a potential here, but for me, it was just meeeh.

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No Life for a Lady is light-hearted, cosy historical mystery with a touch of romance from Hannah Dolby.

‘There are ladies who don’t like what they are made for, the cleaning and the domestic business, the caring and the mothering. We might think badly of them for it, but it does happen.’

Violet Hamilton would prefer a profession to a husband, at twenty-seven she continues to fend off the latter, much to her father’s disapproval, but is yet to find the former. In part this state of affairs stems from the sudden disappearance of her mother in 1886 when she was eighteen, and as the ten year anniversary approaches, Violet is determined to find out what happened to her. 

Discretely hiring a private detective is the first step but there is something about Frank Knight and his interest in her mother that Violet finds disturbing. An advertisement discovered by chance leads her to an another private eye, and though Benjamin Blackthorn initially turns her down, Violet eventually convinces him to help.

Violet is a likeable lead character. She chafes at society’s expectations but with the naivety of a well-raised lady. This means she is caught unawares more than once, but to her credit she is rarely discouraged and persists regardless. 

There are several amusing scenes, including Violet’s efforts to turn away unwanted suitors, discretely tail a gentleman with her chaperone in tow, and a picnic with unexpected nature views. I also enjoyed the banter between Violet and Benjamin. Their low key romance is a sweet feature of the novel. 

The mystery surrounding Violet’s mother’s disappearance plays out well, though I felt there were some small issues with the plotting, and the pacing was a little even. I enjoyed the reveal of the villain, and the drama of the conclusion.

No Life For a Lady is an engaging read with the potential to become a series.
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Violet Hamilton lost her mother 10 years ago, on the cusp of her come out.  As a result she has loved in solitude and melancholy since then, vowing never to marry.   She gets the idea she must find out what happens to her mother, and it leads to intrigue, new friends, and love.

His story has good bones, but the execution was painstakingly slow.  Just wanted it to move on with the action and discovery.
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A beach holiday has had me catching up with a set of fabulous novels which I've finally got round to reading. And enjoying!! Really enjoyed this one. Very original, a Victorian novel but with a difference and with a joyful and feisty protagonist to boot! Violet is just a dream!
There'a great writing, a great plot and a great mystery. Some oohs and ahs along the way, and definitely some laugh out loud moments.
Set in 1896, Violet is 28 and avoiding marriage for as long as she can. She has other ideas about how to spend her days, inventing rather strange charities to explain away the time she is, in reality, spending on a quite different pursuit!
Original, well written, 5* novel to get your teeth into!
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