Readers are frequently asked to name their favorite authors. This question always causes me distress. Asking me to name my favorite authors is akin to asking me to pick a favorite child. One of the authors I continually turn to for challenge and entertainment is Anne Perry. Perry is an English author who is primarily known for her two Victorian detective series, one featuring Thomas and Charlotte Pitt and the other with William Monk and Hester Latterly; however, additionally, she has written an outstanding quartet centering on World War I and a collection of Christmas novellas.
The Christmas stories feature minor characters such as sisters, brothers, grandmothers or bosses from the two detective series. While these stories contain some elements of mystery, their primary focus is to give a glimpse into these characters' personal growth or turmoil and to provide more of their back story.
The first in this collection is A Christmas Journey. This story features Lady Vespasia Cumming-Gould an in-law of Charlotte Pitt's sister Emily. Lady Vespasia is a woman who is still beautiful and influential despite her old age; however, In A Christmas Journey, she appears as a young woman feeling unsettled with her life after an earlier involvement in an Italian revolutionary attempt. In the story, a guest at a weekend Christmas house party commits suicide seemingly as a result of a vicious criticism. The woman who issued the unkind comment is forced to carry the suicide note to the victim's mother and admit her part in the death. Lady Vespasia volunteers to travel with the woman hoping to regain some of her lost passions. The journey is full of discomfort and detours before the letter is delivered.
The mystery is secondary to the personal redemption of several of the characters and the spiritual revitalization of Lady Vespasia. The strength of the novella lies in the development of Cumming-Gould's back story in the Pitt Series. Reading this provides further dimension to the already well developed character.
Perry has released a Christmas novella every year since 2003. A Christmas Return is the 2017title. Although Christmas is not the primary focus of these books, they are a well spent seasonal evening's entertainment.