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No Life for a Lady

"This romp about a Victorian lady becoming a detective will solve all your uplifting historical fiction problems "

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LoveReading Says

LoveReading Says

Violet is an independent and ambitious 28-year-old in the 1890s, constantly having to say she is ‘not inclined to marry’. Treated with both pity and alarm, she’s fed up of being constantly compared to her beautiful absent mother, yet keenly feels her absence – especially when it comes to advice on finding a career available to women, and to courting an appropriate man. 

The mystery of Violet’s mother’s disappearance propels the reader onwards between flashbacks to her past – it was particularly intriguing when we start to discover the more, ahem, indecorous and unbecoming side of her mother’s hidden past. 

It’s all told with an inviting and warm humour that revels in Victorian language and sensibilities, particularly with Violet’s enforced naivety around sex: when her mother first told her about the male ‘Matterhorn mushroom’, for example, Violet ‘made a vow never to marry, so I would never, ever have to put myself through it. It seemed like a perfectly nasty way to spend time.’ 

I enjoyed the moments where Violet deliberately puts men off their attempts to court her, in acts which are both self-protective and self-destructive: ‘My father was [...] urging me to behave. He did not need to. These days, I did not push men into bodies of water.’ 

(And there’s a little treat subplot storyline involving gay characters, which, while trying not to give spoilers, reminded me of a jollier Tipping the Velvet!

The reader’s rooting for Violet when she starts taking control of her own fate, overturning more of the patriarchal and social rules, and finally realising she is already the very lady detective she thought would be impossible to become. 

Lily Lindon

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