A Christmas Grace: A Novel Hardcover – Deckle Edge, Oct 28 2008
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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.”
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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.See all Product Description
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
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.
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.
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.
This just may be my favorite among Anne Perry's Christmas novellas. Emily is one of the most interesting secondary characters in the Pitt series, and she's at her best as this tale's protagonist. My only quibble is the mystery's slightly awkward resolution - but that goes with the book's short format. An A+ read otherwise! Perry's usual theme, that secrets carry poison and the truth is always best, comes through loud and clear; and it's a particularly appropriate theme for the Christmas season.
--Reviewed by Nina M. Osier, author of 2005 science fiction EPPIE winner "Regs"
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.