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A Christmas Journey Hardcover – November 18, 2003

3.8 out of 5 stars 33 customer reviews
Book 1 of 11 in the Christmas Stories Series

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Editorial Reviews



“Intelligently written and historically fascinating.”
–The Wall Street Journal

“You can count on a Perry tale to be superior.”
–San Diego Union-Tribune

“An Anne Perry novel is a delight to read as much for its Victorian-era details as for the mystery it unfolds.”
Chicago Tribune

From the Inside Flap

Readers of Anne Perry?s bestselling suspense novels revel in a world that is all their own, sharing the privileged existence of Britain?s wealthy and powerful elite in West End mansions and great country houses. It is also a world in which danger bides in unsuspected places and the line between good and evil can be razor thin. This new novel features Lady Vespasia Cumming-Gould?one of the most memorable characters from the Thomas Pitt series?who appears here as a lively young woman, the ultimate aristocrat who can trace her blood to half the royal houses of Europe.

It?s Christmas and the Berkshire countryside lies wrapped in winter chill. But the well-born guests who have gathered at Applecross for a delicious weekend of innocent intrigue and passionate romance are warmed by roaring fires and candlelight, holly and mistletoe, good wine and gorgeously wrapped gifts. It?s scarcely the setting for misfortune, and no one?not even that clever young aristocrat and budding sleuth Vespasia Cumming-Gould?anticipates the tragedy that is to darken this light-hearted holiday house party. But soon one young woman lies dead, a suicide, and another is ostracized, held partly responsible for the shocking turn of events.

To expiate her guilt, Gwendolen Kilmuir sets out for the Scottish Highlands, hoping to explain to the dead girl?s mother the circumstances surrounding the sorrowful act?and to bring her back to England for the funeral. Gwendolen?s sole companion on this nightmarish journey is Vespasia. As Vespasia learns more about the victim and the ugly forces that shaped her desperate deed, she understands the heartbreaking truth of the tragedy.

Product Details

  • Series: Perry, Anne
  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books; 1 edition (November 18, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 034546673X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345466730
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.8 x 7.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,080,928 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Anne Perry is the bestselling author of two acclaimed series set in Victorian England: the William Monk novels, including Dark Assassin and The Shifting Tide, and the Charlotte and Thomas Pitt novels, including The Cater Street Hangman, Calandar Square, Buckingham Palace Gardens and Long Spoon Lane. She is also the author of the World War I novels No Graves As Yet, Shoulder the Sky, Angels in the Gloom, At Some Disputed Barricade, and We Shall Not Sleep, as well as six holiday novels, most recently A Christmas Grace. Anne Perry lives in Scotland.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Anne Perry's memorable character, the indomitable Lady Vespasia Cumming-Gould, is the heart of this book. She is a young wife and mother, 30 years of age, attending a weekend house party at the home of her friend Omegus Jones. There Isobel Alvie, a young widow who is vying for the attention of an eligible bachelor, makes a cruel and cutting remark about Gwendolen, another young widow who would appear to be about to become engaged to him. The next morning Gwendolen is dead, an obvious suicide. Omegus proposes a medieval solution that could allow Isobel, who the guests find responsible for Gwendolen's death, to redeem herself. It will be a long and bitter journey in the cold of early winter to deliver Gwendolen's last letter to her mother, who lives in the north of Scotland. Vespasia, in friendship, offers to accompany Isobel. The journey is longer and much more difficult than anticipated, but the women persevere and meet another remarkable woman, Gwendolen's mother.
The morals and mores of mid-nineteenth century England may seem strange and unusually strict to us, but Isobel and Vespasia must learn to live within those rules. As they travel, they share their thoughts and develop a true friendship. It is a journey of discovery for both of them, as they look deep inside themselves. I do agree with another reviewer that Vespasia dwells too much on her affair with Marco in Rome, but I assume that it is still a very recent occurrence, so that is understandable.
What I do not understand, however, is Vespasia's willingness to leave her children, well cared for though they are, for long periods of time, first to go to Rome and again to travel to Scotland. Again, I suppose it is customary for the gentry and nobility of that era to do so. Nevertheless, it surprised and disappointed me.
However, this is an excellent book which I highly recommend to all who love Aunt Vespasia and wish a glimpse of the young woman who became a great lady.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Anne Perry is a brilliant writer. She is my favorite author and can take you into Victorian England better than Charles Dickens, BUT even a superb writer can not always create a good work. Anne Perry proves that with this shallow, short novella. Her descriptions are magnificent, but there has to be a riviting story to make a piece worthwhile and this book does not have one.
The title is misleading, it is not a Christmas story. It starts before Christmas and ends on Christmas Eve. It has virtually nothing to do with Christmas. To be accurate, it might better have been titled "A Winter Journey".
I had thought that this work might give insights into the wonderful Lady Vespasia from the Thomas Pitt novels. All it does is expose her as a shallow, almost adulterous lady of leisure who spends a great deal of time thinking of her lost love from a Roman escapade and has very little thought of her husband and children.She does not even spend Christmas Eve with her family but rushes off to Applecross to be with a man who has fascinated her throughout the book.
The woman who causes the problems in the story is a most unlikable person. She has a quick, sharp, wicked tongue and uses it often. She snaps at everyone, even as they try to help her.
The only person of true and nobel character is the stoic mother of the girl who committed suicide. She is the most interesting character in the book and only makes an appearance in the last quarter of the story. However even her character is under developed as there is no real reason given for her running from her previous life.
There are needless extensions of the trip to find the mother of the suicide victum. Everytime it seems that she will be found, she has moved on to another more remote location. This gives Ms.
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Format: Hardcover
This is a much shorter book than most of those from Anne Perry; it's a piece of light rewading for and about Christmas. The writer takes Aunt Vespasia, one the favourite characters from her Charlotte and Thomas Pitt series, and tells the story of one Christmas in her younger days. It isn't exactly a mystery story - a young woman commits suicide and her reasons for doing that seem obvious. But Anne Perry is master of digging beneath the obvious to find the truth beneath the truth.
The result is a tale that flows from an elegant house party in a country mansion north to the frozen snowy wastes of Scotland (and Anne Perry lives in northern Scotland so we can assume she knows whereof she speaks). It's a pilgrimage of sorts, with Vespasia and her friend Isobel toiling through storms and snowdrifts to find the mother of the dead woman and, incidentally the truth behind the suicide.
The only thing spoiling this good story is the overly moralistic tone that Anne Perry is increasingly becoming bogged down in. Of course you want characters with deep motivation - some pure, some mistaken, some evil - and the battle between good and evil always makes for good plot structure. But Anne Perry does tend to overdo it, leaving the reader wondering if she can stand being swamped beneath so many layers of virtue and morality.
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Format: Hardcover
Ms Perry is a very talented author and I have read, re-read, and listened to her Monk and Pitt books, but this book was rather disappointing. Unable to wait, I purchased this at full price on its first day of issue- I wish I had waited.
As I read it, my excitement lessened and the words 'shallow' and "Harlequin Romance' kept coming to mind. The contrived plot was hard to swallow: a woman is the victim of a stinging remark and commits suicide. No one appears to really care and no police are called. Eager to place blame, the houseparty group convenes a hearing and declares one of themselves guilty of contributing to her death and so must do penance. Huh???
The moral (spelled out otherwise I don't think I would have caught on) is forgiveness and mercy, but it was made known rather abruptly in the last 2 pages (as it often is) and left me wondering if I'd missed something.
The characters are Ms Perry's and she may do with them as she wishes, but I cannot say I was happy to learn more about Vespasia in this book. Vespasia, who is well aware of her great beauty and status in society, seems bored- bored with her husband, her life, her friends, and even her children since she leaves them for weeks at a time. Perhaps she accompanied Isobel to the wilds of Scotland out of sheer boredom. She doesn't seemed bored by the attentions of her host, though.
Good characters have flaws and weaknesses and Vespasia is certainly one of Ms Perry's best, despite the weak story of this particular book.
Borrow before you buy, buy at a discount only.
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