Cover Image: No Life for a Lady

No Life for a Lady

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Member Reviews

I don't read a lot of historical novels but this was quite refreshing. It showed how stifling and restrictive life was for women in Victorian times. The fact that a father can make decisions for a 28 year old is shocking! Violet is a breath of fresh air. Trying to stick within social norms and preserve her reputation while investigating her mother's disappearance 10 years previously. A light, refreshing read. #netgalley #NoLifeForaLady

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At 18 years old Violet's mother vanished from her life, having kissed her goodbye that evening. Having been last spotted on the Hastings Pier, she vanished without a trace. Now 10 years later Violet is desperate to find her beautiful - if not slightly flighty and flirty - mother. In her desperation she hires the private detective Frank Knight to investigate, but with every interaction with Frank, Violet senses she will need to solve her mother's disappearance on herself since Benjamin Blackthorn, the son of a PI is determined to remain simply the owner of a furniture shop.

This book came as a bit of a surprise, I was not expecting to enjoy it as much as I did, but Violet's antics were hilarious and kept me engaged and entertained even if the pacing of the book was a bit slow at times.

Violet herself is fiesty and courageous, if not woefully ill equipped for the realities of the world. Naivete cannot be avoided though considering Victorian sensibilities and a father who virtually ignores her unless it's trying to set her up with another hapless chap. While her father desperately wants her to get married, Violet is an expert at warding off potential suitors.

No, for Violet she is singularly focused on finding her mother, which while this is the main driving plot of the novel was not my favourite part of it. I prefered the moments of absurdity that came with Violet's antics and adventures - they were much more compelling and interesting.

In the end it is a lovely coming of age tale, for a woman that at 28 in this era should really have come of age long ago. It's a fun, charming, and lighthearted read sure to amuse readers.

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Charming, inspiring and hilarious, it was a perfect read for the International Women’s Day!

The story follows Violet Hamilton, a twenty eight year old woman whose mother disappeared ten years earlier. Violet is determined to find out what had happened and, without telling her father, hires a detective. As the detective proves to be less and less trustworthy, she tries to hire another one - enter Benjamin Blackthorn, an adorable giant who really wants to drop the whole detective business and live a quiet life selling furniture.

The pacing of the first half of this book was very slow but this is my only complaint. No life for a lady is an engrossing historical mystery with a wonderful cast of characters (trust me, you want to meet Maria Monk, a former courtesan and an occasional sex-ed teacher) and a compelling storyline. I loved Violet’s inner monologue, this book made me laugh out loud so many times! Violet was brilliant in the way she scared off her suitors and absolutely adorable when trying to escape an uncomfortable situation. Benjamin was like a big puppy; good natured but clumsy at times, I just wanted to hug him 🤗 While romance is not the center of attention in this story (no smut, pervs!) it surely adds to its charm.

Highly recommended, we need more women like Violet!

Thank you Aria & Aries and NetGalley for the chance to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

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Ohmygosh this book! This was an absolute charm of a read, so witty - some of it is laugh out loud, I mean if you've read the bit about the turkey neck/ mushroom you know exactly what I mean.

Violet Hamilton is an independent, strong minded, driven woman - in 1896. She does not want to follow the rules, she doesn't want to court men or get married (especially not to please her father) - what she really wants to do is live her life the way she wants to, and find her mother who went missing 10 years ago.

On a mission to unravel the circumstances that surrounded her mother's disappearance Violet crosses paths with private detectives, and gets a taste of wanting to do her own detective work. Let me just leave it there without spoilers - but expect: bucking the rules, humour, a great insight into the times, some fabulous vocabulary (Popinjay, Camphor, Bombazine, Mycology - just some of the fab words I googled!) oh and yes I did also google THAT mushroom!

I'm really hoping there will be a sequel...

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No Life for a Lady is a bold, historical fiction read, centred around 28-year old Violet Hamilton, an unmarried spinster who struggles to fit into the confines and expectations set by society.
This was such a fun read! The book started off quite slow and did take me quite a few chapters to really get into, but once I was half way through and the mystery finally started to unravel, I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Violet is a strong, independent character who just doesn't fit into the mould of a women of that era, much to the dismay of her father who is desperate for her to get married and forget about her mother's disappearance ten years prior. Violet knows her own mind and isn't afraid to stand up for herself (without feeling like an unrealistic character for the time period), and I love that.
Violet finds herself spending time with detective/furniture seller Mr Blackthorn, who is just an absolute delight, and I adored reading about them together.
My one gripe with this story was that the end felt a little rushed. Once the mystery was solved and the twists unravelled, I would have liked to have seen some more of what happened afterwards and what it meant for the relationships between certain characters.
I would describe this book as a 'cosy mystery' with a tiny sprinkling of romance thrown in for good measure. A book with plenty of wit, humour and feel good vibes, that doesn't take itself too seriously - I would recommend!

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🕵🏻‍♀️Violet is a protagonist that you can’t help but love. From the start she had me giggling away with her witty comments or on-point observations. Her naivety to the social norms only made me love her more but I did fear for her safety.

🔎 The mystery surrounding Violet’s mother’s disappearance was the focus of this story and what led us to our two detectives. Mr Knight was a character that no one trusted from the start, you can’t put your finger on what it is but he is definitely shifty! The whole way through, different theories were running through my head, but I never predicted the final conclusion.

🏛️Set in the late 1800’s we learn a lot of fascinating facts about that time. What was expected of women, and what ‘careers’ they were allowed to have. The addition of characters such as Mrs Monk, Hildebrand and Mrs Tibbs showed all sides of life as a lady in those times.

💙The blossoming romance between Benjamin and Violet was the easter egg of the story. From the moment she knocked on his furniture shop door, I could see exactly where their story would lead and I was egging them on the whole way.

⭐ What a wonderful and fascinating story, full of mystery, romance and laughter. I can highly recommend it to all lovers of historical fiction. It will leave you with a big smile on your face.

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No Life for a Lady by Hannah Dolby is a fun historical mystery. This breath of fresh air is a good laugh and a learning opportunity. It's a great read for anyone looking to find out more about the lives and struggles of young ladies in the 1890s. I love the setting of this book and look forward to more from this author.

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Violet now aged 28 and in 1896 regarded as edging toward spinsterhood knows that she does not want to marry but will need to find a paid occupation. In an attempt to find her mother who disappeared 10 years ago, the idea of becoming a lady detective springs to mind I inhaled this novel. Violet was an absolute delight and her attempts to find her path in life, while remaining respectable, are at times hilarious. A romance and mystery with not everyone, quite as they seem this is the perfect book to cosy up with during these cold evenings. Many thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the ARC of this novel in return for an honest review.

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"No Life for a Lady" would be best described as a lovely historical fiction about a woman ahead of her time, trying (or not) to fit in 1800s Victorian England. I saw another reader's review comparing this to "Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine," and while the protagonists in each book share some similar quirks, the story here was on the more humorous spectrum (honorable mention of the hilarity that was chapter 40). I might not have been too fond of the pacing at first, especially in the first third of the story, but it's just one little thing among many things I loved, such as the playing the detective aspect of this book, all the hilarious misunderstandings, and one very interesting gentleman named Benjamin Blackthorne (and the marvellous science that went behind chapter 58). And I simply adored Violet. She's one of the funniest female characters I've encountered in a while! If you're looking for a very entertaining historical fiction novel, look no further and read Hannah Dolby's new book.

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This was one hell of a book to read. Loved every minute of it. Well worth more than 5 stars.

Thanks to Netgalley and publisher for this ARC

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Still in the process of finishing this one - full review to come! I will update my star rating also.

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As light humorous historical romance stories go this one was excellent. I enjoyed the setting of turn of the century Hastings and found the characters engaging. A fun read.

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A quirky, funny Victorian mystery, Dolby’s debut novel was a refreshingly original story about a young woman who wants to find mother. Viola doesn’t want to get married. She wants to be independent, have a career but finds herself being forced by her father to meet a multitude of young bachelors that she has no intention on marrying.

Hiring a detective to help find her mother is a bold step, but soon Viola is over her head and pins her hope on Mr Blackthorn, another detective to help her out of her predicament. Viola decides that she could be a lady detective and nothing or no one is going to stand in her way.

This was such a fun read! If you like Miss Marple and Enola Holmes, Viola will be a character you will enjoy. Her innocence and naïveté as a young 28 year old woman who hasn’t received any guidance from her mother is highlighted throughout and Dolby uses this to bring about some hilarious and touching moments in the story.

This is not just a book about a mystery- it’s about women breaking conventions and making a place for themselves in the world regardless of what society dictates to them. The romance sub-plot adds a further dimension to the story and I loved the banter between Bernard and Viola. Another stand out character is Mrs Monks- she’s a tyrant to Viola but their interactions bring about some of the funniest scenes in the book.

An entertaining coming of age story with plenty of humour and mystery. I hope that Hannah gives Viola another book and can’t wait to see what she writes next. Thanks to NetGalley and Aria & Ares for the arc. No Life for a Lady is out now! 4 ⭐️

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I voluntarily read an advanced copy of No Life For a Lady by Hannah Dolby. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Thanks to NetGalley and Aria & Aries for this ARC.

I started this book and, from the start, was confused about the tone. The flip from independent woman to sheltered daughter was too extreme. But I kept with the book, thinking that eventually, everything would click. I also wanted to know what happened to the mother. Unfortunately, that plot arc was very disappointing. I give this book 2/5 stars.

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This was a slow one, especially the first half. While I did find myself wanting to stop reading it altogether at times, the humor and mystery helped me want to finish it. This is a unique book, one that I would not normally go for, but overall I’m happy I read it. Thank you to NetGalley for the ARC in exchange for a honest review

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Violet Hamilton is twenty eight, she can clearly remember the day her mother Lily left their house in Hastings, she was going to visit friends and she never returned. Violet’s father alerted the police, they looked into her disappearance, Lily was seen near St Leonards Pier, the police assume she drowned and her father ordered the staff pack up all his wife's possessions and store them in the attic.

Ten years later, Violet’s father has been trying to marry her off for years, what he doesn’t understand is after her mother went missing, Violets friends stopped talking to her, they cross the street when they see her and some men no longer treat her with the respect she deserves.

Violet doesnt want to get married, her greatest wish is to find out what happened to her mother and she secretly hires a private detective to look into Lily's disappearance and she doesn’t want her father to know. Mr. Knight uncovers some shocking information about Lily, what her mother had been doing for the months prior to her vanishing, Violet didn't have a clue and this makes her extremely curious and she now wants to investigate the case herself.

In 1896, a lady of her social standing shouldn’t go out in public without a chaperone and could never be a sleuth, and Violet comes up with some clever ways and reasons to leave the house. Violet is frustrated by her lack of life inexperience, she has no idea about basic things a grown woman should know and what she has been told is rather vague and couldn't possibly be correct?

I received a copy of No Life for a Lady by Hannah Dolby from NetGalley and Aria and Aries in exchange for an honest review. The narrative is based around a long term missing person’s case, and the main character Violet wanting to break free of the silly rules women are forced to follow and start working as a private investigator. Violet wants to test society’s boundaries, at her age she’s considered a spinster any way, she makes some amusing blunders along the way and discovers the possibility her mother is still alive.

A Victorian era mystery and a humerus coming of age story all rolled into one narrative and Violet is a rather inquisitive and funny character, I enjoyed reading about how she outsmarted the creepy suitors her father found and her hilarious verbal exchanges with Benjamin Blackthorn and Maria Monk and four stars from me.

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Fabulous! I loved Violet so much and the story was hugely entertaining. I’d love to see a Netflix adaptation! Very VERY highly recommended. Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for an ARC of this book.

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This was quite a quirky and at times a funny read. Violet was such a naive young lady and she had no one to guide her. However, she was determined and wanted to find herself something useful to do. Violet wants to find out what happened to her mother. This brings her in contact with Benjamin, a one time detective and now shopkeeper. She feels an attraction to Benjamin but is unsure what to make of it. This was an entertaining read, it was good to see Violet maturing throughout the story and becoming more self aware and confident. This appears to be the first in a series and I will be interested in seeing how this series develops. I found this to be an entertaining read with a good variety of characters. I received a copy and have voluntarily reviewed it. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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“Delightful” describes Hannah Dolby’s No Life for a Lady. Despite the central character’s frustrating but understandable naivete and her bumbling, or perhaps because of them, I was quickly drawn into Violet Hamilton’s loneliness, her desire for independence, and her search for her mother who had been missing for a decade.

A fan of Victorian fictional female detective Loveday Brooke, Violet lives with her banker father in Hastings, England. She has never had any adult responsibilities other than running his household since her mother left home as if to go to one of her frequent social engagements, giving no hint she wouldn’t return later in the day. Even running the household, Violet has the help of two full-time servants and a weekly laundrywoman. Regarded as a spinster at twenty-eight, Violet is happy with her single status. In fact, she has long found creative ways to reject every suitor her father brings home.

Violet is a determined woman. Without telling her father, she hires Frank Knight, a detective, to search for her mother, but she soon regrets her decision for more than one reason. Wanting to replace Knight, she finds an advertisement for Bernard Blackthorn, only to find him deceased and his son Benjamin running a furniture shop at the address. Might Benjamin be able to help her find her mother? After all, he had learned the detective business from his father. Despite Benjamin Blackthorn’s insistence that he is now a furniture salesman and nothing more and his advice to let Frank Knight continue doing the job, Violet hopes Blackthorn will change his mind. As a married man with a large brood of children, he inspires Violet’s trust, and she feels safe around him.

What’s more, she has found an object in his shop—a means to learn a respectable trade and to achieve the independence she craves and has been held back from achieving as a woman.

Surprisingly, Violet soon finds herself attempting seemingly simple detective jobs on her own and managing to botch the jobs in ways frustrating or embarrassing to her but humorous to readers.

What will the future bring for Violet Hamilton? Will she find her mother with or without Detective Frank Knight? Will she achieve the independence she so craves? Pick up this delightful book, turn the pages, and find out.

Thanks to NetGalley and Aria for an advance reader copy.

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The year is 1896 and it’s now been a decade since Violet Hamilton’s mother vanished without a trace, determined to find out what really happened to her she hires a detective who turns out to not be who she thought he was and this in turn drags her into a whole world of things she shouldn’t be involved in…

Despite being about someone going missing this book is fun and pretty light hearted and I raced through it. At the centre is a mystery but the book is very much about women breaking convention and being who they want to be in a time where that was almost impossible.

There’s also a romance side plot which I absolutely adored and could’ve read an entire book about! I hope this is the beginning of a series as I don’t think the characters are finished with yet!

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