The Benevolent Society of Ill-Mannered Ladies
The Benevolent Society of Ill-Mannered Ladies is the first book in Allison Goodman’s new Ill-Mannered Ladies series of historical mysteries. It’s nicely told, featuring two older heroines who find themselves becoming detectives, which definitely alleviates the boredom of their orderly lives.
The Colebrook twins, Lady Augusta – called Gus – and Julia, are two well-heeled sisters who are currently completely without male companionship. They go to church, they go to tea – and they’re positively bored stiff. Since they’re past their mid-forties the word ‘spinster’ continues to pop up in conversations, if not precisely aptly. Julia is mourning her fiancé, and Gus is not of a marrying mind. Ergo, they use their position within society as benignly ignored figures to help up the vulnerable. In this case, they seek to help their friend’s daughter, Caroline.
Caroline is apparently being abused by her husband, and Gus and Julia seek to protect her and spirit her off to safety. But they find themselves accosted by a highwayman on the way to her home. Both women are shocked to find love along the way – in Gus’ case, with Lord Evan Belford…whom Gus has shot accidentally. He is accused of a crime he insists he never committed and had been exiled from polite society years ago. Gus vows to help him, and is definitely intrigued by his ways. Might love have arrived for her at last – along with an extra sense of purpose and a way to use her position in society for the betterment of the world?
My biggest problem with The Benevolent Society of Ill-Mannered Ladies is that Julia doesn’t’ get as much time to bake as a character. I think she could have served to anchor more of the plot, but this is Gus’ show. Not that I really minded, since she’s a wonderfully lively character to follow. There’s a lot of twin magic going on with these characters, who can sometimes anticipate each other’s actions thanks to their twin-ness. But that’s a small quibble, as I really loved Gus’ determination.
The book spotlights three cases in which the two women help others and are surprised greatly by the arrival of romance. The book’s great at switching the plot up, making you suspect the unexpected. Be warned that the cases these ladies deal with are not ‘gentle’; they fight for the rights of prostitutes and the abused without fear.
The period research here is excellent, as is the way Goodman keeps her characters’ thought processes period apropos. Everything else about The Benevolent Society of Ill-Mannered Ladies is just a little extra sugar in a cup of tea.
Lisa Fernandes is a writer, reviewer and recapper who lives somewhere on the East Coast. Formerly employed by Firefox.org and Next Projection, she also currently contributes to Women Write About Comics. Read her blog at http://thatbouviergirl.blogspot.com/, follow her on Twitter at http://twitter.com/thatbouviergirl or contribute to her Patreon at https://www.patreon.com/MissyvsEvilDead or her Ko-Fi at ko-fi.com/missmelbouvier
|Review Date:||May 19, 2023|
|Book Type:||Historical Mystery|
|Review Tags:||Ill-Mannered Ladies series|
This looks interesting especially with some older characters in the leads – for a nice change! However, a quick look at the author’s oeuvre indicates she uses a bit of supernatural and that some of her books are apparently YA. Would you say that either of these two characteristics are part of this new series? If the book steers clear of these two things, I think this book might be just what I would like to read. Thanks, Lisa.
The book does feel slightly YA in tone, but not to a bad end. No supernatural elements in this one at all as far as i can recall.