Bestseller Perry's sixth Christmas novel (after 2007's A Christmas Beginning), one of the stronger entries in the series, explores further mysteries of the soul. A few weeks before Christmas, 1895, Emily Radley, the sister of Charlotte Pitt (last seen with husband, Thomas Pitt, in Buckingham Palace Gardens), answers a summons from Father Tyndale, spiritual leader of a small Western Ireland community. The Catholic priest is concerned about Emily's dying aunt, Susannah Ross, who's been estranged from her family since marrying outside their Protestant faith. Once in Ireland, Emily finds her aunt's entire village in the grip of fear, haunted by a secret. A shipwreck during a ferocious storm, the rescue of a young man from the sea's clutches and another young man's mysterious murder complicate Emily's mission. Perry effortlessly evokes the region's insularity and isolation while imbuing religious themes into a whodunit without being preachy. (Nov.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
A Christmas Graceby Anne Perry
When the season brings a chill, nothing warms the heart or elevates the spirits like a new novel by Anne Perry, whom the Chicago Sun-Times calls “the most adroit sleight-of-hand practitioner since Agatha Christe.” Perry’s gifts are on full display in A Christmas Grace–a hope-filled tale of forgiveness that is rich with mystery and… See more details below
When the season brings a chill, nothing warms the heart or elevates the spirits like a new novel by Anne Perry, whom the Chicago Sun-Times calls “the most adroit sleight-of-hand practitioner since Agatha Christe.” Perry’s gifts are on full display in A Christmas Grace–a hope-filled tale of forgiveness that is rich with mystery and intrigue.With Christmas just around the corner, Thomas Pitt’s sister-in-law, Emily Radley, is suddenly called from London to be with her dying aunt. Leaving her husband and two children behind, Emily makes the long journey to an all-but-forgotten town in the county of Connemara, on the western coast of Ireland. She soon discovers that a tragic legacy haunts the once closeknit community. Violent storms ravage the coast and keep alive painful memories of an unsolved murder and unsettling fears that a killer may still live among the residents of the lonely Irish town. Determined to lighten her aunt’s heart and help the troubled community, Emily sets out to unmask the culprit. When a lone shipwreck survivor washes up onshore, he brings with him not only the key to solving the terrible crime but the opportunity for the townspeople to make peace with the past–and with one another.
Best-selling author Perry offers her sixth annual Victorian Christmas offering (after A Christmas Beginning). Emily Radley is drawn to a remote Irish village to care for her dying aunt. A violent storm looms on the horizon, and a terrible secret haunts the villagers. Will Emily solve the mystery and weather the storm? A slight tale that will appeal to Perry's fans; for all mystery collections. [See Prepub Alert, LJ7/08.]
Read an Excerpt
Emily Radley stood in the center of her magnificent drawing room and considered where she should have the Christmas tree placed so that it would show to the best advantage. The decorations were already planned: the bows, the colored balls, the tinsel, the little glass icicles, and the red and green shiny birds. At the foot would be the brightly wrapped presents for her husband and children.
All through the house there would be candles, wreaths and garlands of holly and ivy. There would be bowls of crystallized fruit and porcelain dishes of nuts, jugs of mulled wine, plates of mince pies, roasted chestnuts, and, of course, great fires in the hearths with apple logs to burn with a sweet smell.
The year of 1895 had not been an easy one, and she was happy enough to see it come to a close. Because they were staying in London, rather than going to the country, there would be parties, and dinners, including the Duchess of Warwick’s; everyone she knew would be at that dinner. And there would be balls where they would dance all night. She had her gown chosen: the palest possible green, embroidered with gold. And, of course, there was the theater. It would not be the same without anything of Oscar Wilde’s, but there would be Goldsmith’s She Stoops to Conquer, and that was fun.
She was still thinking about it when Jack came in. He looked a little tired, but he had the same easy grace of manner as always. He was holding a letter in his hand.
“Post?” she asked in surprise. “At this time in the evening?” Her heart sank. “It’s not some government matter, is it? They can’t want you now. It’s less than three weeks till Christmas.”
“It’s for you,” he replied, holding it out for her. “It was just delivered. I think it’s Thomas’s handwriting.”
Thomas Pitt was Emily’s brother-in-law, a policeman. Her sister, Charlotte, had married considerably beneath her. She had not regretted it for a day, even if it had cost her the social and financial comforts she had been accustomed to. On the contrary, it was Emily who envied Charlotte the opportunities she had been given to involve herself in some of his cases. It seemed like far too long since Emily had shared an adventure, the danger, the emotion, the anger, and the pity. Somehow she felt less alive for it.
She tore open the envelope and read the paper inside.
I am very sorry to tell you that Charlotte received a letter today from a Roman Catholic priest, Father Tyndale, who lives in a small village in the Connemara region of Western Ireland. He is the pastor to Susannah Ross, your father’s younger sister. She is now widowed again, and Father Tyndale says she is very ill. In fact this will certainly be her last Christmas.
I know she parted from the family in less than happy circumstances, but we should not allow her to be alone at such a time. Your mother is in Italy, and unfortunately Charlotte has a bad case of bronchitis, which is why I am writing to ask you if you will go to Ireland to be with Susannah. I realize it is a great sacrifice, but there is no one else.
Father Tyndale says it cannot be for long, and you would be most welcome in Susannah’s home. If you write back to him at the enclosed address, he will meet you at the Galway station from whichever train you say. Please make it within a day or two. There is little time to hesitate.
I thank you in advance, and Charlotte sends her love. She will write to you when she is well enough.
Yours with gratitude,
Emily looked up and met Jack’s eyes. “It’s preposterous!” she exclaimed. “He’s lost his wits.”
Jack blinked. “Really. What does he say?”
Wordlessly she passed the letter to him.
He read it, frowning, and then offered it back to her. “I’m sorry. I know you were looking forward to Christmas at home, but there’ll be another one next year.”
“I’m not going!” she said incredulously.
He said nothing, just looked at her steadily.
“It’s ridiculous,” she protested. “I can’t go to Connemara, for heaven’s sake. Especially not at Christmas. It’ll be like the end of the world. In fact it is the end of the world. Jack, it’s nothing but freezing bog.”
“Actually I believe the west coast of Ireland is quite temperate,” he corrected her. “But wet, of course,” he added with a smile.
She breathed out a sigh of relief. His smile could still charm her more than she wished him to know. If he did, he might be impossible to manage at all. She turned away to put the letter on the table. “I’ll write to Thomas tomorrow and explain to him.”
“What will you say?” he asked.
She was surprised. “That it’s out of the question, of course. But I’ll put it nicely.”
“How nicely can you say that you’ll let your aunt die alone at Christmas because you don’t fancy the Irish climate?” he asked, his voice surprisingly gentle, considering the words.
Emily froze. She turned back to look at him, and knew that in spite of the smile, he meant exactly what he had said. “Do you really want me to go away to Ireland for the entire Christmas?” she asked. “Susannah’s only fifty. She might live for ages. He doesn’t even say what’s wrong with her.”
“One can die at any age,” Jack pointed out. “And what I would like has nothing to do with what is right.”
“What about the children?” Emily played the trump card. “What will they think if I leave them for Christmas? It is a time when families should be together.” She smiled back at him.
“Then write and tell your aunt to die alone because you want to be with your family,” he replied. “On second thoughts, you’ll have to tell the priest, and he can tell her.”
The appalling realization hit her. “You want me to go!” she accused him.
From the Hardcover edition.
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As 1895 is winding down, Emily Radley, sister-in-law of Scotland Yard¿s Superintendent Thomas Pitt (star of Anne Perry¿s late Victorian police procedural series), hopes next year will be better. She remains in London for the Christmas season with her husband and two children so she will be expected to attend parties although she is not in the spirit of the season even as she tries to hide her negativism from her family.
On the western coast of Ireland in Connemara, Father Tyndale sends a message to Emily informing her that her Aunt Susannah Ross is dying. Although Susannah was ostracized by the family for marrying outside their religion, Emily feels it is important to visit her relative to provide some comfort for both of them and besides escape the joy of Christmas; she leaves her family in London so they can enjoy the city. In Connemara, Emily is stunned to see the abject fear on every villager¿s face. She wonders why but no one will reveal the secret that haunts everyone, but vows to find out. Meanwhile a nasty storm causes a shipwreck leading to a daring rescue followed by an enigmatic murder that makes the outsider¿s amateur sleuthing so much more complicated.
The latest Christmas mystery (see A CHRISTMAS SECRET and A CHRISTMAS BEGINNING) is a terrific tale that merges a strong investigation with a sense of time and place while also containing religious elements that enhance the excellent story line. Emily is at her best feeling a bit depressed as the holidays arrive, but being a good mom and wife tries to hide her melancholy from her loved ones. Ireland enables her to do so and get involved in the mystery of a town haunted by something as it is on everyone¿s visage. A CHRISTMAS GRACE is a strong entry in a charming holiday series.
I've enjoyed Anne Perry's other Christmas tales, but I believe this is her best. For anyone who's read her other works, this is a must read.
I usually really enjoy her many books on early England, but this one seemed very predictable, and not very long for a book. More as a short story.
When The Who released "My Generation" in 1965, its thunderous sound which guitarist Pete Townsend called "Maximum R&B" caught the love-and-peace crowd completely off-guard. Lead singer Roger Daltrey was a huge fan of James Brown and when he covers Brown's "I Don't Mind" and "Please, Please, Please", you wonder what would've happened to The Who if they continued on this course.
What we DO know about The Who is that Townsend was a fantastic songwriter and guitarist whose teenage wanderlust created timeless anthems that included the title song and "The Kids Are Alright". We also know John Entwistle's throbbing bass, particularly in the title song, gave these songs the support they needed. And considering what a wild and unpredictable character Keith Moon was, it's easy to forget how good a drummer he was.
The re-issue of this album contains the album in its original UK release, including their cover of Bo Diddley's "I'm A Man". It also features a wealth of additional material including the obvious, such as their first single, "I Can't Explain" and the not-so-obvious, such as their cover of Martha And The Vandella's "Heatwave" and an early version of "Anytime, Anyhow, Anywhere".
Although "My Generation" has recently been used in commercials, it's great to hear this material as it first came out in 1965. When you first look at the album, you see a picture of the band when they were just barely out of their teens, angry, fierce and with so much to prove. The Who certainly don't seem that way now. But with a re-release this brilliant, maybe they don't have to.
This is the first of Perry's Christmas books I've read and frankly I won't bother to spend money on another. The explanations were pat and yet farfetched. I'm a fan of Perry and I love the way she fleshes out her secondary characters, but she did nothing for the protagonist in this one.