Another Review at MyShelf.Com

Publisher: Headline
Release Date: December 2003
ISBN: 0755321146
Format Reviewed: Hardback
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Genre: Historical Crime [1852, Berkshire & Scottish Highlands]
Reviewed: 2004
Reviewer: Rachel A Hyde
Reviewer Notes:  

A Christmas Journey
By Anne Perry

     Fans of Anne Perry's series about Thomas and Charlotte Pitt will know all about the stately society beauty, Lady Vespasia Cumming-Gould, but only as an elderly widow. This Christmas novella goes back to when she was only thirty, married to a kind but dull man and wistfully remembering her days as a revolutionary in Rome. At a house party in early December, she witnesses two widows pursuing the same man, somebody who could give either woman the position and money that she needs. A chance cruel remark leaves Gwendolen devastated and the next morning she is found dead in the lake. Their host, Omegus Jones, has the surprising idea to make the guilty party do penance for their sin by taking Gwendolen's sealed suicide note to her mother who lives in the north of Scotland. Fingers point at Isobel and so she must go forth or be in permanent disgrace, and with her goes her devoted friend Vespasia. It will be a surprising and revealing journey for both of them.

     This is a surprise Christmas package from Anne Perry, the length of a novella and featuring a character that is not exactly one of her usual sleuths. As usual, you can expect surprise revelations, plenty of suspense and some interesting characters, although the one who seemed most convincing was the flawed but very human Isobel.

     Here is the inevitable picture of society life with its glittering surface above a morass of cruelty, insecurity, greed and pettiness that Perry paints so expertly and, of course, a murder to solve.

       Add also the oddly mediaeval idea of a pilgrimage to expiate sin, the unreal ghostly landscape of north Scotland in the depths of winter and the presence of Christmas and you have all the ingredients of an ideal holiday season story. This would make a good introduction to Perry's work. Her work continues to delight and absorb.