14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
- Published on Amazon.com
For a few years now, Anne Perry has been writing small books featuring the beloved characters from her Victorian series in a poignant adventure around the Christmas Season.
When I first saw the title A Christmas Grace, I thought initially the story may feature little Grace, the maid and friend of Thomas and Charlotte Pitt, but this offering features Charlotte's sister Emily Radley.
Perry always shows us the customs of the time, where who you married, knew, or was family too was the defining point of your life. Charlotte married Thomas Pitt, a policeman, for love. Emily married a man in the gentry, above her social rank. The two women's lives were drastically different and Emily knew that Charlotte's life, though hard, was the happier, as she loved Thomas more than anything. When Emily's husband dies, she eventually remarries a man who becomes a member of Parliament, and they are still well off.
A letter comes to the Radley home a few days before Christmas from Thomas Pitt. He explains Charlotte's and Emily's aunt in Ireland is dying, and she asks initially for Charlotte to come to her, but Charlotte is ill and cannot make the arduous journey. Thomas asks Emily to go instead.
The girls have not seen their aunt Susannah since they were young. Susannah married an outsider, and a Catholic to boot, and her family, Emily and Charlotte's parents and grandparents practically disowned her.
Imagine a time when society dictated everything, manners, conduct, love, politics, etc.
Emily's husband talks her into making the great journey to the west coast of Ireland. She meets her Aunt Susannah as an adult and sees she at the age of 50 is indeed dying. Emily starts making friends with her aunt, and the village priest and villagers.
One night there is a horrific storm, and a there is a shipwreck. A lone survivor is rescued, and the whole town seems to react strangely. There was a similar situation years ago, and the survivor died mysteriously. Susannah, hearing of Charlotte helping Thomas Pitt from time to time, wants to unburden the mystery of the village before she dies and meets her husband on the Other Side.
Emily steps up to the plate and shows she is not the more shallow of the sisters. She does chores - well, she has to be shown how - but she works to help her aunt physically and help her spiritually.
It is a second chance for a village of people, and a peace for a lady who lost so much by marrying for love and having to leave her family and making her husband's village her family.
Learning about the Victorian culture has always been Perry's forte, and these small Christmas books zero in on a character and we see with clearer eyes a time of not so distant history.
Perry is an amazing writer with excellent series, and her latest Christmas offering to her readers is a grace.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
- Published on Amazon.com
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.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
- Published on Amazon.com
I've really enjoy the Charoltte and Thomas Pitt mystery series by Anne Perry. I was delighted to find that the author had written some Christmas stories that involve some of the main characters in the Pitt series.
A CHRISTMAS GRACE begins with Thomas Pitt calling his sister-in-law, Emily Radley. He tells her that a priest has written from Ireland saying that her Aunt Susannah is very ill and needs a relative to come and take care of her. Emily, with encouragement from her husband, agrees to go. She begrudges the endeavor because she had just been planning her Christmas at home and had no desire to spent it away from her children with Aunt Susannah who she barely even knew.
Aunt Susannah, has been out of touch with her family for many years. She was brought up in a fairly well to do family in England. However, she fell in love with an Irishman, married outside her social status and converted to the Roman Catholic religion. Her brother, who was Emily's father never forgave her or saw her again. Susannah is delighted to have Emily with her and appreciates the kind gesture.
Emily begins her stay, on the western coast of Ireland, with a rather haughty and superior attitude toward the Irish people and land. As she becomes more involved with the local people, she's ashamed of her initial attitude and for the first time realizes that the Irish have not been treated very well by the English. She becomes involved with the villagers and grows to love her Aunt Susannah.
While Emily is caring for her aunt, a violent storm ravages the area and a man is washed up from the sea, apparently from a ship wreck, and brought to shore. The villagers react in a strange way and Emily learns that the same thing happened before to another sailor. People don't seem to want to discuss the happenings and she finds herself involved in a mystery.
The overall story was good. The characters were interesting and the descriptive passages about Ireland, picturesque. I felt that the mystery part was very thin and that it took away the focus which should have been on Aunt Susannah and the Christmas season. Frankly, I wanted to hear how an Irish Christmas would have been celebrated in the late 1800's.
While I mostly enjoyed the story, I came away a little dissatisfied.
R. A. Frauenglas
- Published on Amazon.com
"A Christmas Grace," by Anne Perry (216 pgs., 2008). This is Perry's sixth Christmas novel. I think she's written well over forty novels. I've read every one & none have disappointed me. All her mysteries are the character driven ones which are my favorite kind. She has two long ongoing series & one short series based on WWI. Her Christmas novels are close to stand alone books. She usually brings one or two of her series characters into these mysteries; however, they are without their usual supporting cast. Yet, Perry makes the reader care about the new characters she has developed in these books. It is an ability she has which has kept me reading her books all these years. She makes me care about what happens to the people in her books.
In this novel, Charlotte Pitt's younger sister, Emily Radley, takes center stage. Charlotte is ill & in her stead Emily must travel to the westernmost regions of Connemara, Ireland. She goes there at the dying behest of her Aunt, who had been estranged from the family ever since she married an Irish Catholic after she became a widow.
After that, Charlotte & Emily's Father refused to have any dealings with his sister. To him she was dead. She had left the Church of England & married a Papist. Even worse, he was an Irish Papist & she had left England to live with him in a tiny, isolated village in the wilds of western Ireland.
The phone call for the visit comes right before Christmas. Emily doesn't want to go, but there is no one else, as her husband points out to her. She goes. She meets up with some quite eccentric, yet loving characters in that small Irish village. She also discovers a black cloud hanging over that village & she learns that her Aunt wants her to solve this many years old mystery.
Years ago there had been a shipwreck, one survivor & questions. He was a friendly bloke, asked many questions & eventually was murdered. The murderer was never found & blame has infested the village. Now, many years later, during Emily's visit, there is another shipwreck & another young man is the sole survivor & he is friendly & he asks many questions & old emotions are churned up & old guilts are brought to the surface.
Does Emily solve the original mystery? Does the town regains its spirit? Is there reconciliation all around? Hey, it's Christmas.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
- Published on Amazon.com
The year is 1895 and the setting is London, England. In A CHRISTMAS GRACE, Anne Perry introduces us to the sister-in-law of one of her recurring characters, Thomas Pitt. Emily Radley receives a letter from Pitt just a few weeks prior to Christmas. He asks that Emily leave her cozy London home and make her way to a small village in the Connemara region of Western Ireland to visit her dying aunt, Susannah Ross, who has been estranged from their family for several years. Knowing that this probably will be Aunt Susannah's last Christmas --- and due to the fact that illness keeps the Pitts from making the journey themselves --- Emily is the only remaining relative able to represent the family at her aunt's side for the Christmas holiday.
Emily reluctantly agrees to this sudden request and inconvenience. She reaches out to Father Tyndale, the local parish priest who contacted the Pitts, and makes arrangements to meet with him at Galway station for the journey to the small village of Oughterard in Western Ireland. Apparently, Susannah's marriage to an Irishman who was considered well beneath her means was the essential reason for the estrangement between herself and the rest of her family. Emily is eager to meet Susannah and make her last Christmas as festive as possible.
Upon arrival in Connemara County, Emily is met with a town of close-knit residents who seem reluctant to open up to an outsider and may be hiding something. Susannah's home is beautiful and festively decorated, to a point, and located just off of the seaside docks. Violent storms are in the forecast as Emily settles down to her temporary home and meets with Susannah and her loyal housekeeper, Maggie. Emily is immediately taken with Susannah and feels she has done the right thing by embarking on this trip.
As the storm batters the seaside village as predicted, Emily spies from her window a ship in serious distress that appears to be sinking just off the coast of Oughterard.Local residents brave the storm to rescue the lone survivor of the shipwreck who has washed up on shore. Suffering from a bout of amnesia, he remembers only that his name is Daniel. Emily takes him into Susannah's home as her and other locals attempt to nurse him back to health. Little does Emily realize that Daniel may hold the key to solving a terrible crime that may have taken place in the town several years prior.
With Daniel gaining his strength back and beginning to travel with Emily around the village, she notices that the local population is acting very strangely in his presence. At this time, she also comes to the realization that the town is quite under-populated with several homes left abandoned for no good reason. The local historian even hedges from her direct questioning about this fact. After further prying, Emily learns that several years earlier another ship had wrecked upon the shores of the village --- also providing one lone survivor to be rescued by the townspeople.
As more of the recent history of this event is revealed, Emily finds out that the lone survivor of the earlier shipwreck --- known as Connor Riordan --- was the cause for the mysterious behavior of the community, as well as the alleged reason for the curse that has brought death and misfortune to the village. Connor allegedly charmed his way into the hearts of everyone in the community only to begin peppering the residents with questions about themselves in a way too familiar and uncomfortable for the town to handle. The legend is that Connor died during a drowning accident --- but the community all knows he was the victim of a homicide --- and this murder is the reason for the curse upon them. Hence, Emily now fears for the life of Daniel, who has begun to ask questions and befriend certain members of the village much in the way Connor had years earlier.
A trip to Galway --- the intended destination of the unfortunate ship Daniel was traveling on --- reveals the truth to Emily, and she returns to the village to confront the person she now knows killed Connor. The Galway visit also fills in the missing history of Susannah's late husband, who had made a similar trip following Connor's shipwreck. Did Susannah's husband find out something about Connor that caused his untimely death? If so, it's a secret he took to his grave that has now been revealed to Emily.
With A CHRISTMAS GRACE, Anne Perry has given us a tale of second chances, as stated in the novel's dedication. While the story does not have much at all to do with Christmas initially, the opportunity for redemption as well as the burying of the past as a final gift to a dying relative represents all that this season stands for. Perry once again has given us a great mystery with a denouement that will satisfy all those who require an elevation of their spirits during the holidays.
--- Reviewed by Ray Palen