First Sentence: Vespasia stood at the long, open window of her hotel bedroom and gazed across the rooftops of the city toward the western sky.
Lady Vespasia and her new husband, Victor Narraway, are traveling to the Holy Land for Christmas. At their hotel in Jaffa, an elderly man is murdered over an ancient piece of torn parchment. Vespasia and Narraway feel compelled to finish his mission and deliver the piece to Jerusalem. On their journey, they meet someone with a second piece of the document and are threatened by a shadowy figure. Can they complete their journey and reunite the pieces of the document?
There is so much for one to admire about Perry’s writing, but most of all, it is her ability to make one think—“How much is any place seen through the lens of one’s imagination, colored by the dreams one has of it and of the events that have happened there?” She is one writer where I find myself making note of a huge number of passages—“One should be growing, changing, learning forever. Ideas in the mind were like the blood in the veins. The heart that does not beat is dying.”
Vespasia is one of those characters one would love to know, or even better, to be, in real life. She has an intellect, independence, and strength that is remarkable and admirable—“Because to be alive is risk; to care is to be vulnerable. The only safety there is lies in doing your best, being the bravest and most generous you can.” It is nice to learn more of her history.
“A Christmas Message” may be one of Perry’s weakest in terms of plot, but is still worth reading for the considerations it inspires in the reader.
A CHRISTMAS MESSAGE (HIST-Vespasia and Narraway- Holy Land – 1900) - Okay
Perry, Anne – 14th Christmas Novelette
Ballentine Books, Nov 2016