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A Christmas Hope: A Novel

A Christmas Hope: A Novel

3.8 18
by Anne Perry, To Be Announced To Be Announced (Read by)

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Anne Perry's "vastly entertaining" (Newark(NJ)Star-Ledger) holiday novels are "as delicious as mince pie and plum pudding" (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel).A Christmas Hopeis just as delectable, the gripping story of an unforgettable battle between goodness and evil in Victorian London—and a lonely woman's search for meaning in her life.

Claudine Burroughs, a


Anne Perry's "vastly entertaining" (Newark(NJ)Star-Ledger) holiday novels are "as delicious as mince pie and plum pudding" (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel).A Christmas Hopeis just as delectable, the gripping story of an unforgettable battle between goodness and evil in Victorian London—and a lonely woman's search for meaning in her life.

Claudine Burroughs, a volunteer in Hester Monk's clinic for sick and injured prostitutes, no longer expects closeness with her coldly ambitious husband and dreads the holidays. Then, at a glittering yuletide gala, she meets the attractive poet Dai Tregarron, and suddenly her spirits lift. But an hour later, this fascinating man is enmeshed in a nightmare—accused of killing a young streetwalker who had been smuggled into the party.

Even though she suspects that an upper-class clique is quickly closing ranks to protect the real killer, Claudine and the clinic's disreputable bookkeeper, Squeaky Robinson, vow to do their utmost for Dai. It seems, however, that hypocritical London society would rather send an innocent poet to the gallows than expose the shocking truth about one of their own.

Nevertheless, it's the season of miracles, and Claudine and Squeaky finally see a glimmer of hope—not only for Dai but for an innocent young woman teetering on the brink of a lifetime of unhappiness. Anne Perry's heartwarming new holiday novel is a celebration of courage, faith, and love for all seasons.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Set in December 1868, Perry's well-crafted 11th Christmas-themed mystery (after 2012's A Christmas Garland) features a character from her William Monk series. Claudine Burroughs volunteers at the clinic for sick or injured prostitutes run by Monk's wife, Hester, an activity that's just one of the points of friction between her and her disapproving husband, Wallace, an investment adviser. At a party they attend in London attended by the socially prominent, Claudine meets acclaimed Welsh poet Dai Tregarron, who suggests that she change her outlook on life. Before she can fully process his suggestion, another guest, Winnie Briggs, is savagely assaulted, and Tregarron is accused of the attack, which proves fatal. Convinced that the poet is innocent, Claudine works to save Tregarron from execution over her husband's objection. While the book lacks the political content of some of the author's other work, a compelling story and lead make this a winner. Agent: Donald Maass, Donald Maas Literary Agency. (Nov.)
From the Publisher
“Perry’s Victorian-era holiday mysteries . . . are for many an annual treat.”—The Wall Street Journal
A Christmas Garland
“In Anne Perry’s gifted hands, the puzzle plays out brilliantly.”—Greensboro News & Record
A Christmas Homecoming
“Could have been devised by Agatha Christie . . . [Perry is] a modern master.”—Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
A Christmas Odyssey
“[Perry] writes with detail that invades the senses.”—Lincoln Journal Star
A Christmas Promise
“Poignant . . . should be on the Christmas stocking list of anyone who likes a sniffle of nostalgia.”—The Washington Times
A Christmas Grace
“[A] heartwarming, if crime-tinged, complement to the holiday season.”—Booklist
Library Journal
In Perry's 11th Christmas novel, Claudine Burroughs (friend of William Monk's wife, a Perry regular) is bored at yet another festive event until a charming poet arrives with his prostitute companion. When the woman is found dead, Claudine starts to play sleuth.
Kirkus Reviews
Veteran Perry (A Christmas Garland, 2012, etc.) draws back the curtain on an 11th round of decorous Yuletide skullduggery among the oh-so-proper Victorians. Claudine Burroughs doesn't expect much from the Christmas party her distant husband, Wallace, has dragged her to. Forbes Gifford, his second wife, Oona, and their guests are as colorless as they are correct. The only bright spot Claudine finds is a chance meeting with rough-edged Welsh poet Dai Tregarron when she ventures onto the terrace for a breath of fresh air. But the stimulation his company offers pales before the news shortly afterward that the party gets from Creighton Foxley, Cecil Crostwick and Ernest Halversgate, the sons whose parents are among the guests. According to them, Tregarron has set upon Winnie Briggs, another guest, and seriously wounded her. When Winnie dies in the hospital with Claudine at her side, the charges against the missing Tregarron are upgraded to murder, even though Claudine, in whose stable he had taken refuge after fleeing the scene, suspects that the testimony against him is a tissue of self-serving lies. Taking time out for her volunteer work at the clinic Hester Monk runs for sick and wounded prostitutes, she makes the rounds of the other guests, probing ever more deeply into their relations with the dead woman. Though there's precious little mystery here, there's considerable pleasure to be had in watching Perry, on her annual sabbatical from her cumbersomely virtuous anatomies of Victorian social mores (Acceptable Loss, 2012, etc.), manage Claudine's nimble cut-and-thrust conversations with young people, society hostesses and her own husband.

Product Details

Blackstone Audio, Inc.
Publication date:
Christmas Mysteries Series , #11
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
5.20(w) x 5.80(h) x 1.00(d)

Read an Excerpt

Claudine Burroughs did not look forward to the party. This November of 1868 it had been bitterly cold, the kind of chill that creeps into one’s bones and makes them ache. Now it was early December and warm again. People were predicting the mild spell would last. Here in London there might not even be any snow! Most unseasonal.

Claudine regarded her face in the glass, not because she admired it, but because she must do the best with it that she could. She had never been pretty, and now in middle age she had not even the bloom of earlier years. She had strength, something not always admired in a woman; and character, also not necessarily cared for; but excellent hair, thick, shining, and with a natural wave. When her maid dressed it in a glamorous style, as she had this evening, it always stayed exactly where she wished. It was the one aspect of her appearance in which her husband, Wallace, had ever expressed his pleasure.

Not that that mattered to her anymore. He disapproved of too much that was at the core of her, like answering honestly when she was asked her political opinions—­which were definitely more radical than most people’s. She laughed at the jokes it would have been more ladylike to pretend not to understand. And, despite Wallace’s disapproval, she worked at Hester Monk’s clinic for sick or injured prostitutes—­voluntarily, of course; she had no need of money, and the clinic had none to offer. She had begun there looking for something better to fill her time with than endless committees. Now she loved it for the fellowship, the variety, and above all, the sense that she was doing something of genuine worth.

She looked away from the glass. There was nothing more to accomplish here. She stood up and, thanking her maid, went out onto the landing and down the stairs, walking carefully so as not to trip over the hem of her rich teal-­green gown.

Wallace was standing in the hall with his coat on. He was a big man, more overweight than his expensive and skillfully cut suits allowed to show. The flicker of impatience on his heavy features told her that she had kept him waiting.

He made no remark, no compliment on her appearance, simply held her cape for her and then nodded to the footman as he followed her out of the front door. Their carriage had drawn up to the curb ready for them. The coachman must have known the address to which they were going because Wallace did not offer him any directions.

They did not speak on the journey. They had long ago run out of things to say to each other about life or feelings, and Claudine imagined he did not want to pretend any more than she did. There would be enough of that when they arrived. The other guests were all socially important, which was the reason for their going. Wallace was a successful investment adviser to several people of considerable importance, and she admitted that he deserved his success. Apart from being gifted, he worked very hard at cultivating all the right connections. He never failed in anything he regarded as his duty. It was the laughter, the gentleness, and the imagination he could not manage. Perhaps it was beyond his ability, as well as his nature. During rare moments, she hoped he was happier in their life than he had ever made her.

And yet, it would be graceless not to acknowledge that she had never gone without any of the physical comforts of life. She had never dreaded that a letter or a knock on the door would be a request to pay a debt she could not meet. He had never lied to her, so far as she was aware, never drank too much, never embarrassed her in public, and certainly had never been unfaithful. She sometimes thought she might have understood if he had been, possibly even forgiven him for it. It would have shown a quality of passion she had never felt him to possess. Instead of admiring his rigid tidiness, it infuriated her. He folded everything, even the discarded newspaper, matching the corners exactly. He put everything away where it belonged as soon as he finished using it.

But that was a self-­defeating argument. If he had understood passion and loneliness, the same desperate hunger for warmth, then she might have loved him, despite everything else. She had tried to love him. But here they were.

At least she could behave with gratitude. She would do her part this evening: She would be gracious to the Foxleys and the Crostwicks, the Halversgates and the Giffords, and everyone else it was necessary to please.

They alighted at the entrance to the Giffords’ magnificent house. Forbes and Oona Gifford were wealthy enough to entertain in the most lavish style, and seating thirty to dinner was no effort to their staff. Claudine and Wallace were welcomed into the hall, relieved of their outer clothing, and shown into the first of the large reception rooms. They had timed it perfectly: not the last to arrive, which would be slightly ill-­mannered or self-­important, but very far from first, which made one appear overeager.

Oona was Forbes’s second wife, his first having died some ten years earlier. No one knew where Oona had lived before their marriage, and she never mentioned it, which was an interesting omission. She was very striking to look at, some might say truly beautiful. She came toward Wallace and Claudine now, her dark hair swept up luxuriantly and her slender gown the height of fashion. Wide crinolines were suddenly out. No one with the slightest pretensions to style would be seen in one.

“Delightful of you to come,” Oona said with a smile. “Thank you, so much. In spite of the clemency of the weather, Christmas will be upon us before we know it. Let us begin to celebrate as soon as we can, I say.”

“Indeed,” Wallace agreed, forcing a warmth Claudine knew he did not mean. “What better way to begin the season?” He spotted Nigel Halversgate and moved toward him, realizing Nigel was standing with his wife, Charlotte—­known as Tolly—­only when it was too late to change course.

Oona saw what had happened and shot a surprisingly candid look of amusement at Claudine.

“Beginning to gain the Christmas spirit, I see,” Oona said ambiguously.

“Such a party is definitely the best place to do so,” Claudine replied, equally ambiguously. She was thinking of the discipline it took to be agreeable to a number of people she did not know very well or especially care for, but she certainly would not say so aloud.

“Goodwill to all men,” Oona murmured under her breath. She sighed. “And women.” Lifting her chin a little, she turned as Euphemia Crostwick approached, a delicately blond woman whose pretty face was always at attention, looking this way and that to be sure she missed nothing.

“I’m sure you know Mrs. Burroughs,” Oona said, motioning toward Claudine.

“Of course.” Eppy Crostwick smiled brightly. She looked up and down at Claudine’s dress; it was a very handsome one, but it certainly would have overwhelmed her own diminutive figure, and its dramatic coloring would have bleached her skin. “It seems like ages since we last met,” she added, letting the underlying meaning hang in the air.

“Indeed.” Claudine inclined her head, her good intentions already vanished. “So much has happened. But surely it is one of the pleasures of life to be busy, don’t you think?”

Eppy’s eyes widened. “I had no idea you were . . . busy. Your charities, no doubt . . . You must tell me all about it”—­she waved her hand delicately—­“sometime.”

“Of course,” Claudine agreed. “I should be happy to. However, this is an evening to celebrate our own good fortune, rather than commiserate about the tragedies of others.”

Eppy gave a sigh of relief, which was only a trifle forced. “I’m sure you’d love to meet some of the other people here. You know Verena Foxley, of course. Such a good-­looking boy, Creighton, don’t you think?”

They all looked over at the Foxleys. Claudine did agree that Creighton Foxley was handsome enough, if not quite as superb as he himself imagined—­but then, Eppy had not really meant it to be a question. It was an opening for Claudine, who had no children herself—­another way in which she had disappointed Wallace—­to argue that Eppy’s son, Cecil, was just as distinguished, in his own way. Actually, Cecil was very ordinary looking, but one did not say such things, for Cecil and Creighton were good friends. Occasionally Ernest Hal­versgate tagged along with them, half disapproving most of the time but reluctant to say so in case he found himself excluded.

Claudine took a deep breath. “Very handsome, in a certain way,” she agreed. “But there are others perhaps a little more . . . interesting to look at, don’t you think?” She smiled as she said it, allowing her implication to be understood.

Eppy was satisfied. “I do so agree. Have you heard that Lady Lyall is to be married . . . again? The woman is quite . . .” She searched for a word.

“Extraordinary,” Claudine supplied. It was the perfect cover-­all word for disapproval that could never be quoted against you. Its entire meaning depended upon the expression with which you said it, the degree of uplift in the voice.

And so the early part of the evening progressed: a series of encounters with people Claudine had met on scores of other such occasions, from a world she used to be part of. But since her work in the clinic and her introduction to a different reality, it felt more alien than ever. Did she look as strange and lost as she felt? The thought occurred to her that perhaps everyone felt the same, in their own way; as if each of them were trapped in his or her own little bubble, jostling and bumping with others but never breaking through.

No, that was complete nonsense. There was Tolly Halversgate, elegant in the extreme of fashion, wearing a shade of purple-­pink no one else would get away with. She was imparting some confidence to an elderly woman Claudine knew had a title of some sort, but she could not remember what. Countess or marchioness of somewhere. Tolly was a great royalist, always looking upward.

Lambert Foxley was talking business with a couple of hearty men at least ten years older than he. Both of them nodded to emphasize a point.

A couple of girls laughed just a shade too loudly, attracting the disapproval of their mothers, and the interest of several young men.

It was all colored silk, chatter, the glitter of lights from chandeliers, and lots of laughter.

Instead of mingling her way through the crowd again, as Wallace would have expected of her, Claudine turned away and walked through a garden room. At the far side she opened the French doors onto the terrace and stepped out. It was extraordinarily pleasant: a wide paved area extending all the way to the wall bordering the street. There were flower beds—­bare now, of course, but no doubt full of daffodils or hyacinths come spring. There were also ornamental stone tubs at different heights, giving a most agreeable variety, and several attractive holly bushes. The terrace was overlooked by the windows of at least two of the neighboring houses, but they were all dark, leaving Claudine with an agreeable sense of solitude.

It was at that exact moment she realized with a jolt that she was not actually alone. Half in the shadows between the soft glow from the Giffords’ lighted windows, there was a man standing watching her. For an instant she was frightened. Then, when she realized he could only have come from the party, since there was no other way to reach the terrace, she was merely annoyed.

“Good evening, sir,” she said coldly. “I apologize if I am interrupting you. I did not see you in the shadows.”

“I didn’t greatly wish to be seen,” he replied. His voice was very deep and a little slurred, and yet there was a music in it, a lilt even in those few words. “Then I should have to make polite, inane conversation,” he added.

She herself was not in the mood to be polite, or inane. Her eyes were becoming accustomed to the half-­light now, and she could see him more clearly. He was of average height, which meant only an inch or two taller than she. It was hard to tell his age. His heavy hair was dense black, with not a touch of gray, even at the temples, but his face was ravaged by some inner wasting. His dark eyes were ringed with what looked like bruises, and his cheeks were blotched and sunken. His features were strong, his mouth generous, but already either disease or drink had marred him.

“That is what parties are for,” she said, still coolly. “Polite conversation. What were you expecting?”

“Just one person who can see the stars,” he replied, apparently not stung by her tone. “And you never know where you’ll find them.”

She recognized the music in his voice now. He was a Welshman, probably long left the valleys but never quite forgotten them. Surprising herself, she answered him honestly.

“No, you don’t, but they are more likely to be found among those who are searching than those who would get a crick in their necks if they looked upward.” She wished at once she had not said it. It sounded more judgmental than she had intended.

He laughed. It was a sound of pure pleasure.

“Well spoken, Mrs. . . . never mind, it doesn’t matter. You will tell me your name and I’ll think it doesn’t suit. I shall call you Olwen . . .”

She was about to object, then she realized that she liked the name better than her own. She wanted to ask him why he had chosen it, and perhaps what it meant, but that would have betrayed far too much interest.

“Indeed,” she said quietly. “And what shall I call you?”

“Dai Tregarron,” he replied. “I would say ‘at your service,’ but I do little of use. Poet, philosopher, and deep drinker of life . . . and of a good deal of fine whiskey, when I can find it. And I should add, a lover of beauty, whether it be in a note of music, a sunset spilling its blood across the sky, or a beautiful woman. I am regarded as something of a blasphemer by society, and they enjoy the frisson of horror they indulge in when mentioning my name. Of course, I disagree, violently. To me, the one true blasphemy is ingratitude, calling God’s great, rich world a thing of no value. It is of infinite value, so precious it breaks your heart, so fleeting that eternity is merely a beginning.” His bold stare demanded she answer.

Meet the Author

Anne Perry is the bestselling author of ten earlier holiday novels—A Christmas Garland, A Christmas Homecoming, A Christmas Odyssey, A Christmas Promise, A Christmas Grace, A Christmas Beginning, A Christmas Secret, A Christmas Guest, A Christmas Visitor, and A Christmas Journey—as well as the William Monk series and the Charlotte and Thomas Pitt series set in Victorian England, five World War I novels, and a work of historical fiction, The Sheen on the Silk. Anne Perry lives in Scotland.

Brief Biography

Portmahomack, Ross-shire, U.K
Date of Birth:
October 28, 1938
Place of Birth:
Blackheath, London England

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A Christmas Hope: A Novel 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 16 reviews.
Sophia-Rose1 More than 1 year ago
Each holiday season I look forward to getting the latest installment in The Christmas Stories series. I love how the author has taken her minor characters from her regular series and given them their own stories all set against the backdrop of Christmas and their own mystery to solve along with a minor romance for them to dabble in. In this case, it is Claudine Burroughs from the William Monk series. This was an enjoyable bit that showcased Claudine's strength, determination and honor and that of a young couple willing to place love and honesty above convenience and money. Claudine and her husband attend a party where she no sooner meets a poet who challenges her thinking a bit than shortly after he is accused of drunkenly beating a prostitute to near death on the balcony. Three young men from powerful families were there and all claim he did it, but Claudine has her doubts. Her husband acts superior about it all and treats her concerns like they are nothing. She has been married for many years and it was a marriage of convenience. She might not have loved him, but until now she thought he was at least an honest, decent, good man, but now it saddens her that he is willing to accept the comfortable easy answer and turn a blind eye to the fact that guilt is being determined based on connections to money and power instead of facts and truth. She determines that she will do what she can to discover the truth half-way believing the poet is still the guilty party. Claudine enlists the help of the reluctant Squeaky Robinson who is a reformed character, but still knows the dark places well. She does her sleuthing amongst afternoon tea visits, evening parties, concerts and soirees. Hints here and there lead her to the truth and to a pair of young lovers that she is determined to help along the way. Time is running out to help Dai avoid the hangman's noose, but Claudine has a bit of Christmas hope for him and for the others. It's always a real treat to read anything by this author because of how clever she is with blending authentic period backdrop with in-depth real people characters. They have flaws, they have emotions and they experience so much even in these shorter Christmas novellas. This one is set in the mid-Victorian period amongst the glitter and gaiety of the Christmas season for the wealthy of London society. Claudine is nearly drowning in a sea of people because she feels more and needs more than just looking charming on her husband's arm, engaging in trivial conversation and meaningless pursuits. This is why she is drawn to the intensity of the Welsh poet who she meets outside on the balcony at a dinner party and why against everyone telling her otherwise including her own brain she believes he is innocent of brutally beating Winnie Briggs. She's a great heroine because she pursues her course no matter what even though she is well aware of what it may cost her. She even lays out her most private misery for a young couple and the girl's parents to save someone else from a sad marriage. She's just an ordinary woman trying to do what's right and I think that's what I connected with the most. The mystery wasn't really a big part of the plot other than it was the catalyst to send Claudine on her search to find justice and that revealed a young couple's romance. The holiday setting was very backdrop too even though the theme of Christmas hope is always there in this story for several people. My only niggle was that when the truth came out, there wasn't much follow-up to see what happened with the secondary characters or really what the fall out ended up being for Claudine after that last big argument with her husband. Just my curious mind wanting more. Maybe the next book in the regular William Monk series will say something more. All in all, it was a nice heart-warming Christmas story in a historical setting with a strong heroine and a bit of a mystery for her to solve. My thanks to Net Galley for the opportunity to read and review this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
An excellent short novel (98 pages) that is written by an author whom I expect quality writing!! I was not disappointed.
Mirella More than 1 year ago
As a first time reader of Anne Perry’s Christmas novels, I thoroughly enjoyed this Victorian cozy mystery. The heroine is compelling in her aloneness and search for meaning in her life, while the whodunit part of the story is a strong part of the story without being overpowering. Underlying themes of forgiveness, compassion, and love makes this Christmas tale stand out from other mysteries. Clear, succinct writing, with poignant scenes and the sympathetic main character kept me turning the pages. This is a wonderful story, not too long and perfect for the holidays. Very much recommended. 
robbie65 More than 1 year ago
I am an Ann Perry addict. Love her historical detail and story lines. Wouldn't miss one of her books. A Christmas Hope is no exception. Can't wait for the next one.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
As always in her Christmas stories Anne Perry takes one of her supporting characters from one of her series as the major character. Highly enjoyed this novel as well as all her previous Christmas offerings
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love Christmas related stories. They are usually cute corny and uplifting. Perfect for the holiday season. This book is none of the above. The heroine is a downer and her husband is worse. She is caught in a miserable marriage and is doing nothing to disentangle herself. She does nothing to her bullying know it all of a husband. The victim is rather shady and does nothing to ingratiate himself to the heoine or reader. The true heroine and hero is the young couple who sarcrifice to tell the truth and they end up the happiest. Pretty much a zero for a Christmas book. Blah story, blah characters and blah results.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The book was a good story. This is my first time reading Anne Perry's books.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
hunneypreader22 More than 1 year ago
I haven't read any Ann Perry novels in a while and was unfamiliar with these characters. It was a fun, quick Christmas themed read, though a little light on any suspense or involved plotting. Kind of anti-climactic ending I thought. But fun atmosphere and the main character is interesting. All in all a solid 3 out of 5, for me, anyway.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I always enjoy any book by Anne Perry.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Once again, Anne Perry ventures into a different take on a Christmas story. Part mystery and all Victorian mores, it is an enjoyable, rather dark tale set during Christmas time. With a few favorite characters from her Monk series she spins an interesting mystery that illustrates the class struggle and division that was Victorian England and permeated every aspect of the lives of each character. If you enjoy Anne Perry mysteries, Victorian England and a quick read you should pick up A Christmas Hope. It may wet your appetite to try the other books in her William Monk Series and her Thomas and Charlotte Pitt series.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
honeygrams5 More than 1 year ago
The Christmas can be the heart of of the season. The characters will remind you of some folks that need to see hope that we would like to give the world. This story would be a gift to all.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
As always, Anne Perry pleases the British palate with tales of not necessarily the rich, but the tales of the not so rich who need to interact with the said rich. The semi-rich folk can actually enjoy volunteering and helping the poor while not putting on 'airs' with these folks that they may be above them at all. So many marriages of this time period are not of love but of necessity for the career of the master of the household. The wife is simply a pawn. I have read almost all of Anne Perry's books as we own an old Victorian home in Omaha. Book Clubs could certainly use any of her books to discuss numerous topics.
Delphimo More than 1 year ago
Yes, finally an enjoyable Christmas story than embellishes the spirit of the season. Perry writes a short, yet poignant story of honesty, courage, and forgiveness in Victorian England. Of course, Perry centers on the upper crust of English society, but she exposes the horror and unfairness of the dregs of society. The story focuses on Claudine Burroughs who has the gumption to fight for what she believes. This is only a Christmas novella, but the lessons and characters are endearing.