Sunday, 4 October 2009

A Christmas Journey

I spent the day with my daughter on Thursday and this next book is a library book that she handed me saying, 'You'll like this one, Mum'. It was A Christmas Journey by Anne Perry. Now Anne Perry is an author I've been aware of for a while. I've been told she writes cracking good historical crime of the Victorian variety and I think there's a WW1 series too, but I'm not sure if that's a crime series or not. So, when my daughter handed me this novella by her, I took it happily and have been reading it over the last couple of days.

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:



DesLily said...

gee and that's not even looking at the tbr pile! *giggle.. it looks like you are set for a while!.. I see th e Alchemyst in there and not book 2 the Magician?? thought you got 2 books?

Anonymous said...

I like these little Christmas novellas of Anne Perry's. She is one of my favorite authors, but she does have a lot of different series and books. If you decide to start reading her Thomas and Charlotte series, be sure to begin with THE CATER STREET HANGMAN. It sets up their relationship and is a really good mystery.

Lovely picture, by the way.

Kailana said...

I had to laugh. Christmas in October! haha

Good luck with your reading goals!

Sarah said...

I confess to having avoided Anne Perry's work because of the Parker-Hulme murder. I like historical mysteries, but knowing about that and having seen Heavenly creatures, I can't put it out of mind enough to enjoy her work.

That's quite an impressive TBR soon pile, I do hope you make time for The Warden as its delightful.

Booklogged said...

I really liked this and the 2nd Christmas novella by Anne Perry. I don't know why I haven't read the following ones. Anne Perry is one of my favorite authors. I strongly recommend her WWI series. There's some mystery, but mostly it the story and the characters and the time period that was the most interesting.

Cath said...

Hi Pat. Well, the pile is taken from the tbr pile so if I read them all I can feel slightly virtuous. Except that Drood arrived today so that's more to add to the tbr pile... lol.

I did get the 2 books but I take new series one book at a time and leave a gap between reading them.

Hi Kay, nice to see you around. I'm going to try and read more of these Christmas novellas, maybe try to find some *at* Christmas. I've made a note of the book you mention - hopefully the library might have that first book.

Kailana: yes... even though Christmas is not that far off I don't really like to think about it until after Halloween. So it did feel a bit odd.

Sarah: I do know what you mean and it was an odd experience thinking about that and reading the book. And I did wonder if some of the points she made about women being ostracised were based on actual experience.

The only Trollope I've read is one of his travel books so I'm hoping very much to read his Barchester books this year and next.

Booklogged: I'll definitely get to the WW1 series now that you've recommended them. I liked her writing a lot.

Anonymous said...

Why am I giggling as I read your review? I think it's because of the names....Vespasia? Omegus? Gwendolyn Kilmuir? Oh, giggles! I want to read this, just because of those fantastical names! I am totally adding them to my collection of creative names :P


Cath said...

Sharry: the names are bizarre aren't they? Vespasia's full name cracks me up - Vespasia Cumming-Gould. lol. And Omegus? I know they went in for odd names in Victorian times but that really is a new one on me. Love it. ;-D

Jodie Robson said...

I read one of Anne Perry's novellas last Christmas and enjoyed it - I shall look out for A Christmas Journey (or better still, see if I can get it from the library in December).

Cath said...

GeraniumCat: there's list of the Christmas books (and all of Perry's other titles) here:
Seven Christmas books in all and all sounding good. I too am going to look for them at Christmas.

(Diane) Bibliophile By the Sea said... have a lot of good ones to choose from for this event. I signed up today as well, and need to select my books. have fun

Cath said...

Diane: I haven't signed up for an official challenge, these are just my books for a personal challenge to see if I can read a few books off my tbr mountain. :-)

Danielle said...

Love the photo...wish I were there! :) I read a bunch of Anne Perry books ages ago and I've always meant to pick up where I left off. She has so many out now that I think I would never catch up. I will have to look for this novella, I'd not heard of it before. Lovely piles of library books, too!

Cath said...

Danielle: Glad you like the photo - it's a really nice spot I must admit.

I'm a bit daunted by Anne Perry's output but thought I would just try the odd book here and there from the library and hope its randomness won't matter. I picked another one up in the week so we'll see how it goes.