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A Victorian Christmas mystery story

A Christmas Journey
By: Anne Perry
Ballantine Books 2003 $15.95 180 pages

Anne Perry is simply awesome. She can pack more in a short Christmas book than most authors can in a trilogy. For those of you who read her books, this one is a good story, if you have not read her, this is a good place to start. This one takes place years before Lady Vespasia is a grandam.

At the time of this story, she has vivid memories of manning the barricades in Rome in the rebellion that swept Europe in 1848. She remembers the love of her life who she left to marry a respectable English gentleman. She ponders if respectability is a fair exchange for passion.

The story happens at holiday week party at Applecross, a country estate owned by her friend Omegus Jones. Her husband is away on business and she appreciates the attention of this wonderful man. Gathered are a cross section of upper crust English. Two of the ladies both widows are in a gentile way trying to work up a marriage to a very shallow fellow.

Then the looser wounds the other with hard judgmental words. Words raising a inference that would destroy if true. The wounded runs from the room. Her White Knight keeps his seat. They all are horrified by the attack and blame . Next morning when her body is found in the pool, they ostracize her. Then Jones raises the medieval way of resolving feuds. The one guilty must take some task, difficult and sometimes deadly, when they finish the others are bound by an oath to forgive and never mention it again.

They agree, and the task assigned is to take the unopened letter of the deceased to her mother in Scotland. Lady Vespasia decides to go with her. The struggle to get to Scotland and to the motherís estate is only the beginning, as arriving they find she is at t Inn in the far north, in the grip of winter with no public transportation.

Anne Perry in this book in not makes one think at least gives the reader to ponder questions that Victorians simply did not consider. I was caused to stop and consider the cultural icons, weigh them. Would I and will you find them worth keeping if they are injurious. We learn of friendship and struggle, of malice and mercy. No one does timeless values in Victorian times better. Thanks again Anne Perry.

John Acuff
Country Lawyer





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