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A Christmas Journey    by Anne Perry order for
Christmas Journey
by Anne Perry
Order:  USA  Can
Ballantine, 2003 (2003)
Hardcover, Audio, CD
* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

In A Christmas Journey, Anne Perry takes us back to the younger days of one of my favorite characters in her Thomas Pitt series, that is the clever aristocrat, Lady Vespasia Cumming-Gould. It all begins at a December week-end house party, hosted at Applecross by Vespasia's old friend, Omegus Jones.

Jealousy, and her own fears of the future, lead another friend of Vespasia's, the widowed Isobel Alvie, into a cruel verbal attack on Gwendolen Kilmuir. When Gwendolen takes her own life, the assembled guests shun Isobel. The wise Omegus proposes an alternative to the inevitable exclusion of Isobel from the only society for which she is fit - a medieval trial leading to expiation and a new start for the guilty, with the judges forever bound to silence. Agreement is reached with some difficulty, and Isobel assigned the task of delivering Gwendolen's last letter to her mother in Scotland. Vespasia offers to accompany her.

Their Christmas journey ends up much longer and more difficult than anticipated, with many surprises along the way, not the least of which is the lifestyle of Gwendolen's eccentric (for her times) mother. It gives Vespasia an opportunity for reflection on her own past experiences with the revolutionary love of her life in Rome. Isobel's act of contrition concludes on Christmas Eve, when Omegus tells his guests that 'courage to begin again in the faith that redemption is come into the world, is the meaning of Christmas.'

A Christmas Journey is a short and sweet tale of friendship and redemption (with a tinge of mystery) all set in the holiday season.

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