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A New-York Christmas by Anne Perry

January 17, 2017 Leave a comment Go to comments

A New York Christmas by Anne Perry (2014) French title: Un Noël à New York. Translated by Pascale Haas.

perry_christmasSomething strange happens with recurring characters of crime fiction series. They become like long term colleagues or distant relatives. You see them getting married or divorced, become parents, have their children grow up and sometimes become grand-parents. You hear or see of their family. All this procures a sense of closeness, as if these characters were real, as if reading a new volume of the series was a mean to keep in touch with them. Isn’t that powerful of a writer to create such a bond between their readers and their characters?

That’s exactly how I feel about the characters of Anne Perry’s two series, the William Monk one and the Thomas Pitt one. A New York Christmas is a side volume of the Thomas Pitt series. It features his daughter Jemima, whose birth I remember from an early volume of the series. And my thought was “Wow, Jemima is already 23, I remember of her when she was born and when she was a child.” See? Exactly like friends or relatives you don’t see very often and it seems like their children grew up overnight when in truth you’re just getting older.

perry_noelWell, we’re in 1904 and Jemima Pitt is now 23. She’s chaperoning a young bride, Delphinia on her trip from London to New York, where her fiancé is waiting for them. Delphinia will marry Brent Albright, a rich young man who belongs to a powerful family from New York. Delphinia’s father couldn’t accompany her for health reasons and her mother left them when she was a little girl. When Jemima and Delphinia arrive to New York, Brent’s older brother Harley embarks Jemima in an odd mission. He has heard that Delphinia’s mother was in town and they need to find her before she crashes the wedding ceremony and embarrasses her daughter and her future in-laws. But Jemima senses there’s more to the story of Delphinia’s mother than just someone who abandoned her child. Where is she and what were her reasons to leave everything behind?

For those who’s never read the Pitt series, you need to know that Thomas Pitt is a policeman who was educated as a gentleman and who married in a higher social class than his. Charlotte married him against her parents’ wishes. She was a feisty young woman who wouldn’t play by good society’s rules and wanted to use her brains. She is fascinated by her husband’s job and she always gets involved in her husband’s investigations, going to places a policeman couldn’t go. Jemima is her parents’ daughter, ie, she’s thrilled to help solving a little mystery.

Unfortunately, she’s not as savvy as she thinks and Harley might have ulterior motives…And that’s all I will tell you about the plot.

Let’s face it, it’s not the novella of the century but I still enjoyed it. I read it as quickly as you watch an entertaining film. It was what I was looking for when I picked it up and it met my expectations. Given the ending, I wonder if there will be a third series with a spinoff of the Pitt branch in New York. It might be nice to have a new source of comfort read.

PS: I put the two covers from the English and the French editions. They are not the same but look alike.

  1. January 17, 2017 at 10:21 pm

    Anne Perry always does a Christmas novella, doesn’t she? I haven’t read this particular one though and had no idea Thomas Pitt’s daughter had grown up.

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    • January 17, 2017 at 10:24 pm

      Yes she does. It’s the first time I read one of those. (It’s the 12th Christmas stories, if Goodreads is correct.)

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  2. January 18, 2017 at 11:52 am

    I agree with your opening comments – it’s interesting to follow a small group of central characters as they change and develop with each book in a series. I appreciate that it’s a completely different genre, but I felt much the same way about the various families in Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan novels. This sounds like a lovely wind-down read for the holidays. Who wouldn’t want to spend Christmas in New York, albeit vicariously?

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  3. January 18, 2017 at 5:16 pm

    Following series characters is the best aspect, I think. Ruth Rendell’s Inspector Wexford series leaps to mind. I prefer her standalones, but I became very fond of the Wexford series characters.

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    • January 22, 2017 at 9:19 am

      I’ve yet to try the Inspector Wexford series. Do the characters move on with their personal lives or are they frozen like Tintin or Hercule Poirot?

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      • January 22, 2017 at 6:01 pm

        They move on. Wexford is in retirement for the last few books in the series. His sidekick, Mike, eventually takes his job. You also see Wexford’s daughters and their many problems. Mike’s personal life has its tragedy too.

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