The Benevolent Society of Ill-Mannered Ladies, with its catchy title and witty heroines, was a gem!
Title: The Benevolent Society of Ill-Mannered Ladies by Alison Goodman
Category: Adult Fiction, 464 pages
Genre: Historical Fiction, Mystery, Historical Romance
Release date: May 30, 2023
Content rating: PG-13 for mature subject matter (child prostitution, ill-treatment of the mentally ill)
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 itself: 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.
Lady Augusta and Lady Julia are two "spinster" twin sisters who, at the mature age of forty-two, are bored with high society and are too smart to sit back and do nothing when opportunities present themselves to help out women disadvantaged by their position or status. I love historical fiction with women who are ahead of their time. The sisters perform daring rescues, but the one that takes place in an insane asylum, as they were called back then, was an eye-opening read, as the author does not spare us the abhorrent treatment of its patients.
There is much to like about this novel. First off, it's witty, with a clever plot and memorable characters. There's a bit of romance too. It's well written with never a dull moment. And it's fun for a change to have the heroines be of a more mature age.
This first book in the series starring the Colebrooke sisters is off to a fantastic start. Don't let the page count deter you. I raced through this one and it turned out to be one of my best reads this year. If you like entertaining historical fiction with worthy themes, adventure, mystery, and heart-pounding rescues, you will love this book.
Alison is also the author of New York Times Bestsellers, EON and EONA (also known as The Two Pearls of Wisdom and The Necklace of the Gods). The award-winning fantasy duology is set in a mythical China and has sold into 20 countries, and translated into 12 languages.
Alison's other novels are the SF thriller, Singing the Dogstar Blues, and her wickedly dark adult crime novel, A New Kind of Death, which has just been re-released as a Kindle e-book. Her artist husband painted the cover, which is - Alison says without any bias, whatsoever - totally brilliant and the best cover she has ever had on any of her books.
Visit Alison's website at www.alisongoodman.com.au