I have been in a bad reading slump, audio books, no problem, but to sit with a book/kindle just hasn't been in the cards for me. Until I started reading this book. Maybe I was just in the mood, but something about the characters drew me in and kept me reading every chance I got.
I enjoyed the characters, and the story, I will admit I knew what was going on before the 50% mark, but that didn't dim my enjoyment of the story. I will definitely read more books from this author and this series!
Of Manners and Murders is the first book in a new series set in the late 1800s in England. Violet has returned with her half-sister, Sephora, from many years in India upon the death of her diplomat father. Having lived in India for years, encouraged by her father to see and learn everything, Violet has managed to avoid the prejudices of the English abroad. She would be called a "bluestocking" in every sense. Sixteen-year-old Sephora, however, is as empty-headed as a young lady was expected to be in Victorian England. The sisters are living with their flamboyant Aunt Adelia, who has suddenly taken off to the Continent with her "gentleman friend." Imagine Violet's surprise when Aunt Adelia discloses that she is Miss Hermione, author of England's most popular advice column. Not only that, she expects Violet to take over the column. Violet is in her twenties, firmly considered "on the shelf," and has no romantic experience other than one unhappy love affair. She feels obliged to act as her Aunt's proxy due to her fondness for Adelia.
Opening the first letter, she finds something far removed from a plea for romantic advice. Ivy Armstong, from a village close to London, is a newly married woman convinced that someone is trying to kill her. She even encloses newspaper clippings with pictures of her suspects circled. Violet feels that the matter is pressing enough to travel to the village of Willingdale to speak with her. Upon her arrival, however, she finds that Ivy's burial service is taking place. Violet presents herself as a friend of Ivy's from boarding school and sets out to find the culprit. Is it the handsome new husband, a jealous curate in love with Ivy, or a woman from the village angling for the new husband herself? What part did the village doctor play? While traveling back and forth from the village, she needs to pay attention to Sephora, who gets herself in massive trouble.
I found Manners and Murder enjoyable, with a couple of exceptions. I don't usually object to multiple POVs, but the breakaways to Sephora were annoying in this case. The reader already knows Sephora is an empty-headed, selfish, and self-involved twit. Her secondary drama was not particularly interesting, at least to me. One of the villains, and there were several, was almost cartoonishly evil. I do, however, like Violet very much and am interested in what may happen between her and the dashing American gentleman. He might be Violet's perfect match.
RATING- 3.5 Stars
It's 1885, London, and Violet and her stepsister Sephora are living with her Aunt Adelia. When Adelia goes off traveling the world, Violet inherits her aunt's advice column. Her first letter is from a young woman in the country who fears for her life. When Violet travels to see her, she arrives to find the funeral for the young woman in process. Violet is a smart young woman who has this job thrust upon her while she is also dealing with her beautiful, young, thoughtless stepsister. With some help she manages to find out what happened to the young woman and save her stepsister from being shunned by society. I can't wait for more books with Violet getting brought in to solve crimes with her advice column.
More please! A little slow at first, but this book got significantly more intriguing as it went on. It seems this may be the start of a series where each book sees a mystery solved but an overarching story line ties them all together.
I loved the heroine's secret identity as Miss Hermione. Bunty seems a most worthy and adept assistant to all matters murder and mystery, and I'm most inrterested to see more of Mr. Marsh.
Definitely looking forward to the next Miss Hermione mystery!
When I first read the description of this first book in a new series, I knew I had to read it. It just sounded so entertaining and refreshingly different! I'm glad I read this book. It was a completely entertaining story!
The basics: When Violet's aunt takes off on a trip to distant parts with her lover, Violet is forced to take on her aunt's persona as Miss Hermoine, the most popular women's advice columnist in 1885 London. When the writer of the first letter she receives turns up dead, Violet finds herself on the trail of a killer.
This book is a wonderful mix of period cozy mystery, humor and wit. Just a fun story to read! I enjoyed every word! There is an audio book out as well, and I plan to listen very soon. I can tell this story will be one that is just as fun to listen to as it was to read.Totally worth a second visit!
I am definitely going to keep reading this series. This first book has me hooked! I can't wait to find out what happens next!
**I voluntarily read a review copy of this book from St Martins Press. All opinions expressed are entirely my own.**
Violet and Sephora are half sisters who couldn't be more different. Sephora is the airhead heiress who was raised to find a man who can keep her happy and comfortable while she waxes poetic about the latest fashion. Violet is sensible older sister who was allowed to have her independence so she could grow her mind and learn self-reliance. Once they go to live with their aunt after their parents' early deaths, their aunt decides she can trust Violet with her biggest secret, that she's the infamous advice columnist, Miss Hermione, and now Violet is going to take over. The first letter Violet opens, though, sets her on the trail of a murderer, whose victim almost had him all figured out when he killed her!
I liked this book, though I didn't LOVE it. I think I might've been slow on reading it because I had so many other distractions, so I took too long to really get focused on it. At the same time, I felt like it was a bit of a slow burn of a story, perhaps taking too many detours at the beginning. I think if I'd really given it my attention from the beginning, I may have enjoyed it a little better, though. I will say that I really didn't enjoy the vapidness of Sephora. I suppose women like that did (and still do) exist, but they're not the types that I particularly enjoy spending any length of time with, so having to be in her head on occasion was rather grating.
I think I might look out for the second in the series when (if?) it comes, if only to see what happens with the potential that came along in Eli Marsh. I like him as the ally Violet is reluctant to embrace, and I'd like to see where that goes.
I received an Advanced Reader Copy via NetGalley in return for sharing my thoughts on this book. Thanks to the author and publisher for this opportunity!
This book is the first in a new mystery series set in Victorian England. Violet and her sister, Sephora live with their Aunt Adelia. When Adelia leaves London for a trip to the continent, she leaves the responsible Violet in charge of her secret life as Miss Hermione, an advice columnist. When a letter comes in that sparks Violet’s interest, she becomes involved in solving a murder in a small village outside of London. I really liked the character Violet, a woman not accepting of her subservient place and limited expectations. Add in Eli Marsh, and the future looks bright for this cozy mystery series. Thanks to NetGalley for the ARC.
✉️ Book Review ✉️
#NetGalley published 2/7/23
✉️✉️✉️📃/5 (3.5 rounding up for ratings)
The story begins in 1885 London. With one adult sister's POV. 3/4s of the book is Violet. She is the one that has been given the secret job of Miss Hermione. Think, Dear Abby. And she is 12 years the senior to her half-sister Sephora. Yup Sephora! All I could think of was makeup 💄 🤦♀️ Every. Single. Time. I. Saw. Her. Face. Smh. But that's probably just me. 🤷♀️ But one thing that might not be me is that the POVs were so lopsided. If I want to read different POVs, make it somewhat even. Let me see both of their sides. I saw many times where I thought it was going back Sephora again but nope. Darn. Many missed opportunities. The only time I found an uneven POV book well done was when only the second to last chapter was a different POV. It made it interesting.
The first 25% of the book was OK. Not great. But once Violet discovered that her letter writer was dead, the story picked up considerably. If the book didn't have such a slow start I probably would have given it a 4.5⭐ even with the uneven characters.
I loved the opinionated housekeeper, Bounty. I wish there was more of the aunt that handed down the advice column in the first place. I know bc letters moved so slowly, she couldn't be included by writing letters but another missed chance to not just write off (no pun intended) the aunt was missed. The author could have let any of the 3 MCs that knew her speak of her more. Say what she would and wouldn't like. Show how she would have thought or solved the murder herself. Instead of Violet working 100% intuitively.
Many missed opportunities for zaniness. It is a cozy after all. But I'd give this author another go bc I didn't realize how many things bothered me until I sat down to write the review. I just knew that I would recommend it to my followers.
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Historical mystery is the first in a new series.
In 1885, Violet Manville takes over the role of Miss Hermione, a popular Agony Aunt column in the local magazine, <i>A Woman's Place</i>. The usual advice author is Violet's own Aunt Adelia who has decided to take a trip with a current lover. Despite her protestations, Violet is well-suited for the job and finds the first letter from a young woman who is fearful for her life. Unfortunately, the newlywed in need of help ends up dead. And Violet, aided by the housekeeper, Bunty, is up to the task of discovering what happened.
This was an easy read, typical of a cozy, with an independent protagonist in Violet -- someone who does not follow the typical societal norms of the time and place. Definitely level-headed and sensible, she's also the older, protective half-sister of Sephora, a particularly vacuous young girl set on finding the appropriate man to marry. Sephora is keeping a secret that may prove harmful to her hopes and dreams.
I enjoyed the story well enough, but really did not like the chapters that were from Sephora's point of view. The plot was predictable and there were no surprises. I enjoyed the period details. Not sure if I am interested enough to read future installments of Victorian era amateur sleuthing. I honestly would have liked a lot more of the letter writing and advice responses.
Thank you to NetGalley and St. Martin's Press for this e-book ARC to read and review.
I really enjoyed this first book of a new series. The setting, the characters and the fact that it was written in multiple perspectives all made this a fun and entertaining read. Thanks to NetGalley for the privilege to read and review this book.
Fun new series set in Victoria England.
It's 1885. Violet and her half-sister Sephora have been living with their Aunt Adelia for the past year since the death of their father when Aunt Adelia decides to go on a trip with her latest paramour and reveals her big secret to Violet: she's Miss Hermione, Britain’s best loved Agony Aunt (aka - something like Dear Abby). She had been planning to slow turn the job over to Violet, but as she's running off to Paris, she's turning it over to Violet a little in advance. It's highly secret; the only person we met who knows the secret is Bunty the all-knowing housekeeper. Adelia hands off the latest batch of letters as she runs out the door, noting that one appears to be a repeat letter writer and to stop with it.
The letter is anonymous, although Violet is able to figure out the author's name is 'Ivy' because of how she signs her name. She's afraid someone is trying to kill her. Violet answers several other letters, then plans to visit Ivy the next day, only to arrive in the middle of Ivy's funeral, her death due to an unfortunate ‘accident.’ Violet has her suspicions and decides to investigate. I don’t think it’s a spoiler given the genre that it was no accident.
I enjoyed this book. The point of view is split between Violet and her half-sister. Both are young, although there’s a twelve-year difference between then and what feels like twice that in maturity. Violet’s mother was more academic and encouraged her to read and learn while Sephora’s mother was a tea plantation heiress who brought up Sephora to be a lady, interested in fashion, getting married, and so forth. By having the split point of view, we get a different perspective of society. It also builds some tension as we can see Sephora heading for trouble.
The blurb mentions this is the first in a new series, and I can see multiple ways the Violet can be introduced to new ‘cases’ in future books, possibly by characters she meets in this one or letters to Miss Hermione or even through her sister or aunt.
I received a copy of this from Net Galley that I voluntarily chose to review.
Of Manners and Murder was an okay cozy mystery. While I really like the premise of Violet answering letters as Miss. Hermione and solving mysteries that end up being linked to the people asking for her advice I found most of this novel pretty lackluster and I never felt a very strong connection to any of the characters. I really didn't like Sephora. I thought she was a terrible character and didn't really understand why her chapters were important to the novel until the very end, but my dislike for her overshadowed her usefulness as a plot device especially when she still managed to be pretty awful even when being rescued. The potential romance with the American detective felt rushed and thrown into the novel for what reason I'm not sure other than to give Violet a man to be interested in. Overall I didn't think this was a bad book, but it just wasn't my favorite cozy mystery series. Thank you NetGalley and Minotaur for the copy of this Arc.
Perusing the NetGalley offerings, this book screamed, “Read me!” Set in Victorian England in 1885? A headstrong female protagonist solving a mystery? Yes, please.
As I started reading the first in this new mystery series, I was immediately struck by how Violet reminded me of Eliza Scarlet from the compelling PBS Masterpiece series Miss Scarlet & The Duke. Add to that the storyline of Violet, the protagonist, taking over her Aunt Adelia’s Agony Aunt column, which reminded me of A J Pearce’s lovely book, Dear Mrs. Bird, where the protagonist Emmeline Lake works for the columnist who writes the Agony Aunt column in a floundering magazine. I was all set to love this book, but for me, the writing was somewhat flat on the page and I found it a bit slow-going plot-wise. I’m sad to say this book wasn’t for me, but I know it will be a home run for many others, especially those who love mysteries set in the Victorian era. And, when author Anastasia Hastings publishes book 2 in this series, I will certainly give it another try!
Thank you to NetGalley for the ARC of this new book, and the very best of wishes to Of Manners and Murder as it makes its way in the book world!
When Violet is entrusted with her Aunt Adelia’s anonymous women’s column she can’t help but be a little overwhelmed. As the year is 1885 in London, Violet consoles herself with the fact that most of her questions will likely be woes about men or households, but the first letter she gets shocks her. A woman is fearing for her life and she lays out her suspects. Violet goes to this woman’s village to follow up in person and finds the writer dead- Violet can’t leave things alone, she must solve the murder!
“Of Manners and Murder” by Anastasia Hastings is your typical whodunnit murder mystery. From the beginning, the stage is set and we have all the main players, now we just have to watch the scenes unfold and spot the right clues to piece it together.
I really enjoyed getting to know Violet in this book. As far as first books in a series go, I felt like this one gave us enough about Violet to feel like we could like her, but also just enough that we know we would need to read more of the series to see her fully revealed.
In the end, I guessed the killer about 50% of the way in and had my suspicions about how and why. Some of the little details I guessed right, some not. Either way, I felt like this was a good book to pick up on a rainy day and piece together in one sitting. For that it earned a 4 star rating from me. I’ll definitely be back to this series as more books are released!
Thanks to St. Martin’s Press and NetGalley for the ARC in exchange for my honest review!
I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for my review.
Of Manners and Murder is a charming mystery set in Victorian England. Violet is a woman ahead of her time, reading annd studying and refusing to let social norms constrain her. Her sister Sephora just wants to find a proper match and to focus on fashion and frivolity. Though they don’t see eye to eye, both girls get pulled into the mystery of a suspicious death until Violet puts all the pieces together.
This isn’t weighty, deeply meaningful writing that will stick with you and answer life’s greatest questions, but it’s enjoyable and a welcome diversion from reality. I would certainly read future adventures of Violet Manville.
I enjoy books that feature women with a backbone who don’t follow convention. Ivy is just such a woman. Determined to act, rather than sit back and act like the other society ladies, she gets involved in a murder and won’t stop until she has solved it. “Ripping fun!”, as they might have said in the day.
Truly a delightful book! This is the first time I had the opportunity to read a book by Anastasia Hastings and it won't be the last. I loved her development of characters, her storyline, and her style of writing. I did not see the twist coming at the end of the story and always love when that happens! If you love a good murder mystery, then this is a book you would thoroughly enjoy reading. ( I received a copy of this book from NetGalley for my honest. opinion, which I have gladly given. I can truly say, I would have been happy to purchase this book!)
4 stars, rounded up from 3.5
1885, England - Violet’s aunt is secretly the author of the Dear Miss Hermione advice column in the newspaper and with no warning, she dumps this responsibility onto Violet, so she can hightail it out of England with a lover for a while. She wants Violet to start by tackling one particular letter-writer’s messages and this becomes the basis for the mystery Violet winds up investigating. This is a fun concept for a series and I mainly enjoyed it. Violet is a strong, independent-minded young woman, who is more interested in going to a museum than in fashion and other “typical” feminine interests. She has a very naive younger half-sister, Sephora, who I found rather annoying. She does seem to grow up a bit by the end of the book so I’m not totally writing Sephora off as a character. There’s also a potential love interest for Violet, who, although in her 20s, is considered a spinster by the standards of the era.
There were a number of plot holes along the way, however, and those took me out of the story a bit. But I liked it well enough to consider checking out the next book in the series when it gets published.
Thank you to to Minotaur Books and NetGalley for the opportunity to read an advance reader copy of this book and to Dreamscape Media and NetGalley for the opportunity to listen to an advance copy of this audiobook. Mia Hutchinson-Shaw did a good job with all the voices and accents.
All opinions are my own.
What a delightful read! After a series of emotionally heavy and challenging reads, Of Manners and Murder was a breath of feminist fresh air. I'm not typically much of a cozy mystery fan, but this read more like a general mystery to me. No silly simpering or overly enthusiastic/optimistic investigating within.
In this first of the mystery series, Violet is charged with taking over her aunt's secret Dear Miss Hermione news column when her aunt absconds on a romantic adventure. Violet is on her way to being a "spinster" of the Victorian time, but she is no "shrinking violet" when it comes to being the modern woman she wants to be. Off with the bustle and on to independent train adventures, Violet takes her Miss Hermione responsibility seriously and tries to lend assistance to her letter writer ... only to find that she was too late. Was it an accident or murder? Well, you have to read the story to find out!
I loved how multiple story lines converged and loose ends tied up in a neat little bow. As a spinster of sorts myself, there was a scene at the end that made me swoon and my frozen heart go pitter-patter. I just can't wait to see how that plays out in subsequent Miss Hermione adventures!
Thank you to St. Martin's Press and #NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review this AR
This one was just ok for me. I had a hard time getting into it and understanding it. There were parts I genuinely liked but felt a bit of a disconnect. There’s nothing actually wrong with the book and I’m sure others will enjoy it!