First Sentence: Worm stood and stared, overcome with wonder.
Worm is a former Thames River urchin, somewhere around nine years old, who has never known a family Christmas. He now has a job and a place to stay at Hester Monk's clinic and is looked after by volunteer Miss Claudine Burroughs and bookkeeper Squeaky Robinson. When Worm witnesses the possible kidnapping of the most beautiful woman he's ever seen, he begs Squeaky's help in rescuing the lady. However, the mystery woman is not the victim she seems and has her own plans for revenge, with Squeaky and Worm providing assistance.
Perry's ability to establish a sense of time and place is transportive. She takes one to the sights and sounds of Victorian London and truly engages all our senses—"He had time to get a piece of bread from the larder and a little bit of meat dripping to go with it. It tasted salty and meaty and buttery, all at the same time.'
All the preparations for Christmas impart memories many may have known. More than physical things is the recognition that holidays are best when shared—"Claudine looked at him closely, 'I will like Christmas very much if everyone else does. Christmas is not a good time to be alone. We must make sure everybody is included.'"
Squeaky's introspection as to why helping Worm matters to him shows how much Squeaky's character has developed over time. Although this is particularly meaningful for those who have followed the series, Perry provides enough information for new readers to appreciate the transformation.
Perry's bits of wisdom are insightful and quote-worthy. It's hard not to include them all, but this particularly stands out—"Everyone has to accept disillusion sometime. Hardly anyone was as good as you believed. He supposed that was what love was: accepting someone the way they were."
"A Christmas Revelation" has an exciting climax and a lovely ending. Yes, the story is sentimental, but it is also a wonderful gift one may give oneself.
A CHRISTMAS REVELATION (HistMys-Worm/Squeaky-London-1868) – VG
Perry, Anne – 16th NovellaBallantine Books – Nov 2018