Friday, December 22, 2023

A Christmas Legacy by Anne Perry (The Christmas Stories Book 19)


Publication Date: November 9, 2021

Length: 192 pages

I now have only one more Anne Perry Christmas book to read. I plan on reading and reviewing it this summer for Christmas in July. And that will be it. Perry passed away earlier this year so there will be no more being published. I've been reading these every holiday season for a long time and they are always a nice way to spend a weekend. This book was unusually short, I'd call it more of a novella actually. But it was heartwarming, and a cozy read.

It is the year 1900 and Gracie Tellman is content and happy with her family of five: police husband Samuel and their children, Charlotte (called Charlie), Tommy and Victor. Former maid and co-sleuth to her revered employers Charlotte and Thomas Pitt, Gracie has made a good life for herself, much owed to the love and kindness of the Pitts who treated her as one of their own.

Unexpectedly, a former friend's daughter, Millie visits Gracie and shares a disturbing story of happenings in the household she is employed in as a kitchen maid. Various items are disappearing and Millie is afraid she will be suspected and dismissed. With only her job and good name standing in the way of homelessness and maybe prostitution on the streets of London, Millie is desperate to make sure the crimes are solved before she or any of her fellow workers are destitute. 

Having worked on many cases with the Pitts, Gracie readily agrees to help. She takes on Millie's position, temporarily with her husband Samuel watching the children for her. Gracie pretends to be a fill in for Millie who is "sick," and works to gain the trust of the staff. As she secretly surveys and investigates, she begins to realize there is something sinister going on upstairs in the hidden part of the house. The matriarch of the family is ill and dying but is being neglected, Gracie suspects, in the hope that she will die quickly and leave the heirs with her money and home they covet for themselves. How will Gracie bring this wickedness into the light while not risking Millie's position and maybe even the lives of those who know what is happening?

I thought this book was excellent with character development. As things unfolded, I found myself rooting for the staff and the sick grandmother and feeling connected to their stories. Perry paints a great picture of compassion on the part of the workers who want to protect the old lady but also know they have to tread lightly lest they be thrown out. Gracie is her usual bright, inquisitive self, while also showing a more grown up side as wife and mother now. As usual, Perry creates the Victorian world well, adding those touches we expect from her about the goings on in a large household of the time. Being Christmas time, there is always that extra layer of holiday festiveness in the book.

My only real complaint was that I wish the story itself would have been a bit longer and detailed. The book is less than 200 pages, a perfect quick read for Christmas, but as I was enjoying it I hated to see it end so quickly. There is an unexpected twist that makes it fun though and you really do have to read carefully and all the way to the end to fully appreciate the resolution. This was one of her better Christmas stories I thought as some are dark and depressing all the way through with just a quick lift at the end. A Christmas Legacy works well with the mystery, suspense, and happy ending we all expect from these holiday books. 

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing your review with the Historical Fiction Reading Challenge!