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A Christmas Legacy


A Christmas Legacy

As a reviewer of all 19 Christmas-inspired mysteries by Anne Perry, I can honestly say that it would not be the holiday season without these superb tales.

This year’s entry, A CHRISTMAS LEGACY, stars Gracie Tellman, Thomas and Charlotte Pitt’s former maid. She is now married to a police inspector who works under Thomas and has a handful of wonderful children to raise. The novel is dedicated to “all who are willing to fight for others,” a sentiment that matches up perfectly with its subject as our protagonist takes it upon herself to help out a friend in need, even if it means being pulled away from her own family for a few days just prior to Christmas Day.

"A CHRISTMAS LEGACY has one of the most touching conclusions I have ever read in an Anne Perry novel. I can only hope that it warms your heart as much as it did mine..."

While Gracie is at home preparing for the big holiday, she receives an unexpected visitor. Millie, the daughter of a long-gone friend, has been working as a house maid for the Harcourt family and has come to Gracie hysterical because a number of items have gone missing from there. She fears that the blame will fall on her, and she will be tossed out into the snow.

Gracie will not stand for that and takes it upon herself to have her husband deliver her to Harcourt House, where she introduces herself as Millie’s replacement for a few days as Millie has taken ill. It should take only a few days for her to figure out who could be behind the petty thievery. She meets with Denning, the butler; Mrs. Jenkins, the head maid; Walters, the gentlemen’s attendant to Mr. Harcourt; Mrs. Bland, the cook; Allsop, the lady’s dresser; and a few young helpers who could not be older than 13.

The sentiment within the house is fairly dour, possibly due to the lack of children who could give it some life. Gracie notices that the staff occasionally seems anxious and decides to confront Bessie, one of the young maids. In a flustered manner, Bessie states, “She never gets nothing nice, less’en one of us takes it to her.” This then requires the natural follow-up from Gracie: “Who is ‘her’?” Frightened at revealing as much as she has, Bessie clams up for fear of getting in trouble.

Gracie keeps her eyes and ears open, and learns that there may be an elderly lady in the highest reaches of the house to whom the staff is secretly attending. When Gracie finds her attic room, she is immediately stunned by its filthy condition and is awash with pity as she finds the occupant sitting on an unkempt bed. She takes it upon herself to change the linens and works with the younger staff members to bathe the poor woman, who is unable to leave her room due to her frail condition.

I won’t reveal any further details other than to say that A CHRISTMAS LEGACY has one of the most touching conclusions I have ever read in an Anne Perry novel. I can only hope that it warms your heart as much as it did mine and helps remind you what the Christmas season is really all about. Cheers!

Reviewed by Ray Palen on November 19, 2021

A Christmas Legacy
by Anne Perry