A Christmas Journey
Readers of Perry’s Pitt series will be familiar with Aunt Vespasia, one of my favorite Perry characters. This novella takes place prior to the Crimean War. Vespasia Cumming-Gould is attending a pre-Christmas house party along with a friend of hers, Isobel Alvie. Isobel is a widow with a cutting tongue, which she uses to ill effect on a new widow also at the house party. The dire consequences threaten to cut Isobel off entirely from polite society, unless she expiates her guilt. This involves a journey on which Vespasia generously volunteers to join Isobel, through wretched winter conditions to the Highlands of Scotland. Perry’s book highlights the rigid strictures of society, the difficulty in truly knowing another person, and the power of forgiveness, set against a backdrop of the holiday season. This is a rather lightweight work in Perry’s oeuvre, and may best be enjoyed by other Aunt Vespasia fans.