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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars an almost perfect read
"A Christmas Visitor" may not be in the style of a grand puzzler, but it was a great read nevertheless. As is usual with a novel by Anne Perry, at the heart of "A Christmas Visitor" lies a question of morality -- doing the right thing no matter the personal cost, and the feelings that this act arouses within oneself and those affected by the act. "A Christmas Visitor" is...
Published on October 27, 2004 by tregatt

versus
18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A decent Christmas Story...
This book was just ok for me. It's very short, it only took me a day to finish, and I really wanted to know who-dunnit, but the story seemed to be lacking some, and was a bit repetitious. The excitment didn't really pick up till about 3/4 of the way through.

This is the story of the Dreghorns. A very prominent family living in England that has ownership of a...
Published on December 27, 2004 by Mercedes J.


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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars an almost perfect read, October 27, 2004
By 
tregatt (Portland, Oregon) - See all my reviews
This review is from: A Christmas Visitor (The Christmas Stories) (Hardcover)
"A Christmas Visitor" may not be in the style of a grand puzzler, but it was a great read nevertheless. As is usual with a novel by Anne Perry, at the heart of "A Christmas Visitor" lies a question of morality -- doing the right thing no matter the personal cost, and the feelings that this act arouses within oneself and those affected by the act. "A Christmas Visitor" is a very short novella, and it is a very fast read -- it doesn't possess a very complex storyline, nor is it full of clever and suspenseful twist and turns, and yet within the 199 pages, Ms Perry expounds on the theme morality very well, holding my interest from start to finish.

Judah Dreghorn was a very well thought of, highly respected and much loved Justice of the Peace. And yet, just before his tragic accidental death, he was accused by Ashton Gower of being corrupt and venal. Eleven years ago, Ashton Gower's ownership of his estate was questioned by his cousin, Peter Colgrave. It was Colgrave's contention that Gower had forged the deeds and that the estate rightfully belonged to him, Peter Colgrave. The case was put before Judah Dreghorn, who upon examining the deeds, discovered them to be a forgery. Gower was sent to prison for forgery and fraud, and Colgrave inherited the estate -- an estate he promptly sold to Dreghorn. But now, Gower who has been released from prison, has returned to the area to accuse Dreghorn of a deliberate miscarriage of justice in order to acquire the estate. A few days later, Judah accidentally slipped and cracked his head on some sharp stones in a deep stream. And now it is left to Judah's family (his wife, Antonia and his three brothers) to protect his name and the estate from Gower's claims. Henry Rathbone (father to Oliver Rathbone from the popular William Monk series), who happens to be Antonia's godfather and Judah's good friend, has come down to help Antonia with the Gower problem, and he cannot help but wonder about the nature of Judah's death. For Judah to die at such a time seems just too convenient. Was Judah murdered after all? And was Gower responsible for murdering Judah out of anger and spite? Or was there some other reason to Judah's death, and could Gower's claim of being wrongly imprisoned have some merit after all? Sure that the truth is the only way to help the Dreghorn family heal and get on with life, decides to uncover the truth about everything no matter the cost...

I thoroughly enjoyed "A Christmas Visitor." It was a very fast, engaging and compelling read. And given that the book was only 199 pages long, I thought that Ms Perry had done an excellent job of vividly portraying her characters and the stark beauty of the Lake District in December. Also brilliantly done was how the entire book hinged on the moral character of the dead man -- what we know of Judah Dreghorn we learn from other characters. And yet he is a presence felt throughout the book in spite of the fact that he is dead even before the book even begins. Many authors have done this of course, but I don't think too many of them have really succeeded. Ms Perry definitely has. All in all, I was impressed by "A Christmas Visitor" -- it was short, fast paced, very well executed and the perfect thing for a train or bus ride.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A decent Christmas Story..., December 27, 2004
This review is from: A Christmas Visitor (The Christmas Stories) (Hardcover)
This book was just ok for me. It's very short, it only took me a day to finish, and I really wanted to know who-dunnit, but the story seemed to be lacking some, and was a bit repetitious. The excitment didn't really pick up till about 3/4 of the way through.

This is the story of the Dreghorns. A very prominent family living in England that has ownership of a glorious house and all it's property. When Judah Dreghorn, the eldest of four brothers (3 surviving) dies in a freak accident, everything they know is challenged. The two surviving brothers, the widow of the previously dead one, and Mr. Henry Rathbone, a long-time family friend, come to tend to Judahs widow Antonia, and their son Joshua. While there they all try to figure out the mystery of how Judah died exactly, and for what reasons.

I found the battle of the property to be a little confusing sometimes, but by the end I knew how it worked and what was going on. I gave this 3 stars because I was truly surprised with the ending of this book. The mystery part of it is very clever, however the rest seemed to fall a little flat for me. Overall, I though it was decent read for the Christmas season, and though I don't highly recommend it, it's not a complete waste of time.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Light Tale for Christmas, March 19, 2006
By 
DRob (Arlington, TX United States) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: A Christmas Visitor (The Christmas Stories) (Hardcover)
In this second of her Christmas parables, Anne Perry chooses to focus on Henry Rathbone, a minor character in her Thomas and Charlotte Pitt series. The book is short and easy to read. The mystery itself is somewhat confusing-- the issue regarding the date of property deeds took my slow little mind a while to catch on, but by the end I understood everything. If you are looking for a happy ending, you won't find it with this book, but the ending is a surprise and is a good morality tale. I have a feeling that in real life, it wouldn't quite end as simply as Ms. Perry would have it, but then, it is fiction.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent., April 10, 2005
This review is from: A Christmas Visitor (The Christmas Stories) (Hardcover)
This is the second year Ms. Perry has taken one of the secondary characters from her main series and given them their own Christmas mystery novella, which is wonderful. It's a tradition I hope she continues. There is no one who creates a sense of time and place, as does she. The story contains a message of the true spirit of Christmas, wrapped in a very good mystery. If you're either a Perry fan or one who loves period mystery, I highly recommend it.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A meaningful parable, April 10, 2005
This review is from: A Christmas Visitor (The Christmas Stories) (Hardcover)
Scotland's Anne Perry writes an easy to read, meaningful story in A Christmas Visitor. Set in mid-19th century England, it surrounds the homecoming of the Dreghorn clan for the Christmas holidays and how they deal with the news of the death of Judah Dreghorn, which has been ruled an accident. As the Dreghorns pursue the events of the night of Judah's death, murder seems more likely than a fatal mishap. Issues of the past come to the fore and questions of honor in an honor-bound time take center stage. Family friend, Henry Rathbone, comes to spend the holiday and is instrumental in helping to seek out the answers to the prickly questions that arise about forgery, an error in judgement that sent a man to prison for eleven years, and murder. The story seems to me a wonderful parable, a lesson to be learned; a chance to make things right when making them right may deprive you of all you've come to love in the way of material wealth and property.

The book is easy to read. I read it, with minor interruptions, in about three hours. I am not well acquainted with Ms. Perry's work, though I certainly intend to become more so. This book would be a good one for families to read together and to then discuss the ramifications of its messages.

Carolyn Rowe Hill
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars fabulous Victorian cozy, November 4, 2004
This review is from: A Christmas Visitor (The Christmas Stories) (Hardcover)
Ten years had passed since the four Dreghorn brothers had been home together, but they were gathering to spend Christmas reunion in their Lake District family home. However, a tragedy occurred when one of the siblings Judah died when he slipped on wet rocks cracking his head. His distraught wife Antonia, mother of a nine year old, asks her Godfather Henry Rathbone to help her in an upcoming fight in which her late husband's highly regarded moral reputation as an honest Justice of the Peace is at stake. Henry drops everything to assist Antonia.

Ashton Gower has recently accused Henry of being corrupt. Over a decade ago Peter Colgrave took Ashton to court insisting that the latter's claim to ownership was based on forged documents. Henry examined the questionable deed and agreed with Peter. Gower went to prison for forgery while Colgrave sold the estate to Judah. Gower asserts he was the victim of a fraud between Ashton and Judah. Henry investigates Gower's allegation, but also looks into Judah's alleged accidental death as being too conveniently timed.

A CHRISTMAS VISITOR is a fabulous Victorian cozy that stars a delightful mathematician as a sleuth trying to learn what happened eleven years ago and what occurred a few days ago because he cares for his goddaughter. Rathbone, whose son Oliver is a recurring player in the Monk novels, is terrific as the lead. The support cast adds depth, but ironically mostly in providing insight into Judah, who Rathbone also knew quite well; thereby making the case more difficult because he has a positive frame of reference that is diagonally opposite that of Gower. Ms. Perry provides a wonderful Yuletide historical mystery.

Harriet Klausner
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A new holiday tradition-a Christmas novella by Ms. Perry., November 23, 2004
This review is from: A Christmas Visitor (The Christmas Stories) (Hardcover)
Ms. Perry's Christmas novellas are becoming a seasonal tradition for me. As a follow-up to the one she wrote last year about a young Lady Vespasia Cumming-Gould, there is this one about a favourite character from the William Monk series. Henry Rathbone (Oliver's brilliant and wonderful father) stars in this little book. In it Henry goes to pay a visit to a grieving family who have just lost their father, who happened to also be a dear friend of Henry's. It is Christmas time and the snow is on the ground in the Lake District. Henry goes to comfort the dead man's wife who happens to be his goddaughter. It at first appears that it was an accident that took his friend, but as Henry and the rest of the family dig around, they find out that it was indeed murder. But unmasking this murder could be very costly for this family. Henry knows this, but also knows that he must pursue the truth at all costs. As in all Ms. Perry's books, her cast of characters and her storyline are absolutely wonderful.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great author - great read, April 6, 2005
This review is from: A Christmas Visitor (The Christmas Stories) (Hardcover)
I loved this quick, thoughtful read. I love Anne Perry anyways, but this book really touched me. There is a paragraph at the end that really said it all for me - I even quoted it my book journal.

"Sometimes we bring to a struggle or a cause the gifts we see most clearly, a courage, a strength, or a charm others have told us we have. But often we find more is asked of us than that, more than we intended or thought we possessed. We are asked to offer that which we though dearest, to forgive what seemed unpardonable, to face what we feared the most and endure it."

It goes on, but that's the essence & I love it.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A quietly effective morality tale that is unforgettable, January 22, 2005
By 
Bookreporter (New York, New York) - See all my reviews
This review is from: A Christmas Visitor (The Christmas Stories) (Hardcover)
Anne Perry's A CHRISTMAS VISITOR is told primarily from the perspective of Henry Rathbone, a well-known mathematician and inventor in Victorian England. Aficionados of Perry's work will be quite familiar with Rathbone from his appearances in her William Monk novels, though an intimate or even passing acquaintance with him is not necessary to enjoy this book.

The story opens with the distinguished Dreghorn family gathering from the four corners of the world to the family estate in the Lake District of England. The purpose of the reunion is a Christmas celebration, which is preempted by the apparent accidental death of Judge Judah Dreghorn. Judah's widow, Antonia, summons Rathbone, her godfather, for emotional support. As the family gathers, however, it becomes obvious to them, and to Rathbone, that Judah's death was the result of a deliberate act against him. It appears to be linked to a judicial decision he made over a decade before, which resulted in the incarceration of a man named Ashton Gower for forgery. Gower, having served his sentence, maintains that he was unjustly imprisoned by Judah and that Judah knew of Gower's innocence at the time of the trial. All of the evidence appears to point to Gower as the murderer. Rathbone begins an investigation, and what he uncovers puts him and the Dreghorn family upon the horns of a dilemma.

Perry's plotting here is nothing less than amazing; she paints a relatively simple picture in which the right course of resolution is ultimately quite clear yet extremely difficult for those involved to execute. The result is a quietly effective morality tale that is unforgettable.

A CHRISTMAS VISITOR is a story not to be missed. Just under 200 pages, it easily can be read in one sitting, a practice that you'll undoubtedly want to incorporate into your annual holiday schedule. Very highly recommended.

--- Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Honorable Judge Decides, July 27, 2005
By 
Donald Mitchell "Jesus Loves You!" (Thanks for Providing My Reviews over 124,000 Helpful Votes Globally) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: A Christmas Visitor (The Christmas Stories) (Hardcover)
On this sweltering summer day, I needed something to cool me off. A Christmas Story about Victorian England by Anne Perry seemed like just the right thing. I was right. It definitely helped!

As we move away from Christmas and Easter, it's easy to forget the things that Christians are supposed to do . . . including following the example of Jesus. There is perhaps no more dangerous occupation for a Christian's soul than being a judge . . . for it is God's job to judge and ours to forgive.

In this novella, we learn about a remarkable, upright judge, Judah Dreghorn. The tale develops in an unusual fashion because Dreghorn has just died and his brothers, sister-in-law, wife, child and friend, Henry Rathbone, are arriving to celebrate Christmas as best they can. Dreghorn's death soon appears to be suspicious, and the visitors begin to unearth the secrets of his final day on Earth . . . with surprising consequences.

For many who prefer a certain type of Christmas story, this book will seem a little off. I found it more morally advanced than most Christmas stories because it addresses the challenges of doing the right thing . . . when there are earthly consequences.

I guarantee that you won't soon forget this story . . . and will probably think about it when you have the chance to right a wrong.

May God bless you always!
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A Christmas Visitor (The Christmas Stories)
A Christmas Visitor (The Christmas Stories) by Anne Perry (Hardcover - October 26, 2004)
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