Wednesday, May 17, 2023

The Benevolent Society of Ill-Mannered Ladies - Historical Mystery

Goodreads:  The Benevolent Society of Ill-Mannered Ladies by Alison Goodman

Rating:  Really Liked It (4 Stars)
Source:   Publisher

Description:  A high society amateur detective at the heart of Regency London uses her wits and invisibility as an ‘old maid’ to protect other women in a new and fiercely feminist historical mystery series from New York Times bestselling author Alison Goodman.

Lady Augusta Colebrook, “Gus,” is determinedly unmarried, bored by society life, and tired of being dismissed at the age of forty-two. She and her twin sister, Julia, who is grieving her dead betrothed, need a distraction. One soon presents to rescue their friend’s goddaughter, Caroline, from her violent husband.

The sisters set out to Caroline’s country estate with a plan, but their carriage is accosted by a highwayman. In the scuffle, Gus accidentally shoots and injures the ruffian, only to discover he is Lord Evan Belford, an acquaintance from their past who was charged with murder and exiled to Australia twenty years ago. What follows is a high adventure full of danger, clever improvisation, heart-racing near misses, and a little help from a revived and rather charming Lord Evan.

Back in London, Gus can’t stop thinking about her unlikely (not to mention handsome) comrade-in-arms. She is convinced Lord Evan was falsely accused of murder, and she is going to prove it. She persuades Julia to join her in a quest to help Lord Evan, and others in need—society be damned! And so begins the beguiling secret life and adventures of the Colebrook twins.

Genre: Mystery - Historical   

Why I Picked This Book:  The premise sounded intriguing and I love historical mysteries.  

My Impression:  I can't think of any other book I've read quite like this mystery.  For starters the book is divided into 3 different cases all involving women in serious and terrible situations.  As well, Gus and her sister Julia are both a bit older than the typical main character and financially independent.  Gus is daring and adventurous and willing to risk herself to help her friends and protect her sister.  Julia is a bit quieter and nicer.  Her edges are a bit smoother than Gus's in your face manner and she isn't quite so quick to jump without thinking.  That said she is just as smart and brave and Gus is.  As well these aren't typical mysteries.  There are no murders but the situations Gus and Julia are involved in are perhaps even more serious with everything on the line.

I enjoyed this read and really liked the format of essentially 3 short stories but in chronological order.  I enjoyed getting to know the main characters and understanding their motivations.  Also, Julia's health issues were heartbreaking and it was interesting to see how breast cancer was treated and thought of in this time period.  My main issue was that Gus's obsession with Lord Evan annoyed me a bit.  She's an adult and is supposed to be mature but she just won't even pause to listen to anyone's advice.    

This is my first experience with this author but it definitely won't be my last.  I really enjoyed the writing style, the characters and the stories.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author? Yes!  This was an interesting read and I'm looking forward to reading more from this author.

Would I Recommend this Book?  I would!  This was a compelling historical mystery with some very different aspects to the story.

* I received this book in exchange for an honest review.  As always my opinions and impressions are completely my own. *


  1. It's great when a book gives you characters that have different personalities. Makes things interesting.

  2. I usually don't read historical fiction, but lately the historical mysteries have been sounding good.

  3. This sounds really interesting. I like that it was 3 stories.

  4. Sounds fascinating in spite of a few flaws. Hmm interesting too that three short stories even though following on from each.