Lady Vespasia Cumming-Gould is at a weekend house party, their host, Omegus Jones, is a man greatly respected by Vespasia. There are sundry other guests, including attractive young widow, Gwendolen Kilmuir, who is hoping soon to become engaged to another of the guests, Bertie Rosythe. But Vespasia's friend, Isobel, another widow, is jelaous of Gwendolen and doesn't mince her words. She makes a cruel remark to Gwendolen, resulting in the woman's suicide later that night.
Omegus and Vespasia decide to find out what happened and the assembled group agree that if Isobel is culpable then she should seek 'forgiveness and expiation' by delivering the news, along with Gwendolen's last letter, to her mother in Scotland. Vespasia offers to go with her and thus a long and arduous journey to, and around, Scotland begins... just a week or so before Christmas.
This would make a really good Christmas crime read for anyone that way inclined. There is a crime involved obviously, but also there is a bit of a travel journal of Scotland (I believe Anne Perry lives there), lots of snow and mountains and so on. There is also quite bit of social commentary on the times. The manner in which a Victorian widow became surplus to requirements for instance, and the only way she could re-establish her place in society was to marry again. Also the way in which people were ostracised if they broke the very strict codes of conduct - women especially - men were often forgiven or somehow managed to blame someone else for their misdemeanour. As I'm sure everyone knows, life was hard for women back then, even for those in the more privileged classes.
I liked this slim little volume a lot. It was writen in 2003 and was the first of Perry's Christmas crime novellas, which I think she's now quite well known for. I'll certainly be reading more of her work if I spot it in the library and this is in fact my 21st. book for my Support your Local Library challenge which is being hosted by J. Kaye.
It seems I'm a thief because I loved Nymeth's idea of posting a photo of books she hopes to read in the near future, here, and stole it. My pile is quite a bit smaller as I'm a slow reader who doesn't want to get depressed at her lack of progress! LOL.
A fairly mixed bag there... but of course that's not all because I have what is, for *me* anyway, a fairly large library pile. This is they:
Some of these are random grabs, some are books or authors I saw blogged about or were recced to me - Witch Wood by John Buchan, Molly Keane, Shirley Jackson - and there are also three non-fictions because I'm determined to keep on reading that kind of book even though I've finished the Non-fiction Five challenge.
So there you go... plenty of good reading for the autumn months ahead.
And lastly, we were in the seaside town of Teignmouth on Thursday. I hardly took any photos at all as we are there a lot and I know I've posted photos of the area here before. But I took a couple and was particularly pleased with this one, which I thought I'd share. October on the south Devon coast: