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A Christmas Grace: A Novel [Deckle Edge] [Hardcover]

Anne Perry

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Book Description

Oct. 28 2008
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.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books; 1 edition (Oct. 28 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345502035
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345502032
  • Product Dimensions: 19 x 14.1 x 2.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 318 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #673,162 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


A Christmas Beginning

“Intriguing . . . Perry’s use of period detail is, as always, strong and evocative.”
–The Seattle Times

A Christmas Secret

“A delightful little book . . . Perry’s gift is that she can evoke a sense of place and time while still producing the thrills and chills expected of a modern-day mystery writer.”

–The Orlando Sentinel

A Christmas Guest

“[A] satisfying tale.”
–The Wall Street Journal

About the Author

Anne Perry is the bestselling author of five earlier holiday novels–A Christmas Journey, A Christmas Visitor, A Christmas Guest, A Christmas Secret, and A Christmas Beginning–as well as the William Monk series and the Charlotte and Thomas Pitt series set in Victorian England, and five World War I novels. Anne Perry lives in Scotland.

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Amazon.com: 3.5 out of 5 stars  26 reviews
14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another Christmas offering from Anne Perry Nov. 2 2008
By ellen - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
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
5.0 out of 5 stars strong entry in a charming holiday series Nov. 4 2008
By Harriet Klausner - 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.

Harriet Klausner
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars --------Good, but could have been a lot better------- Oct. 30 2009
By Judith Miller - 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.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Lacked the magic of past Christmas books Jan. 8 2009
By L. J. Roberts - Published on Amazon.com
First Sentence: 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.

Charlotte Pitt has bronchitis, her mother is traveling so Thomas Pitt requests that Charlotte's sister, Emily, answer the request to travel to a small town in Western Ireland where her aunt, who had broken from the family by marrying a Catholic, is dying. Rather reluctantly, Emily complies.

During a severe storm, Emily sees a ship in distress upon the coast. The one survivor reminds the town of a similar incident several ago, resulting in an unsolved murder. Trust of each other has never returned to the town and can't until Emily uncovers the killer.

Ms. Perry's skill at description and creating a strong sense of place was very much in evidence as well as was the emotional questioning and growth of Emily. The characters were interesting--Perry is wonderful in the creation of her characters--but they seemed a bit flat. The mystery wasn't compelling. The story didn't have the emotional uplift others have had and felt somewhat unresolved.

As much as I love Ms. Perry's Christmas books, I felt this was the weakest thus far.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Christmas tale of second chances Dec 15 2008
By Bookreporter - 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

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