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on 7 September 2007
I very much enjoyed this book, much more than A Christmas Visitor which had a much heavier feel than A Christmas Guest. Anyone who has "met" Thomas and Charlotte Pitt in Anne Perry's Pitt series will have encountered Charlotte's bad-tempered and judgemental Grandmother before. In this story, Grandmother finds herself following in her granddaughter's footsteps and searching for the truth. Grandmother's irascible nature hides some painful and shameful secrets of her own, revealed in a previous book, and in this story she undergoes something of a catharsis, and by trying to "help" the dead woman and her relatives, finds new possibilities for her own future dealings with others that may lead to a better chance of happiness. Sorry if this seems garbled. Read the book and you'll see what I mean.
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on 6 January 2011
I had imagined Anne Perry to be from the Catherine Cookson brigade, who I avoid like jellied eels. Alas I admit to be so wrong. Anne Perry writes a brilliant Victorian crime novella in the style of Agatha Christie. I really enjoyed reading this book and watching as the main character followed the clues to work out who committed the crime.

Mariah Ellison has been forced to spend Christmas with ex daughter in law and new husband, whilst her granddaughter goes to France for Christmas. She is not at all happy about the situation and makes herself the most inhospitable guest that she can be. Until another unexpected guest is forced upon the couple which changes everything. Mariah dislikes her straight away and only really begins to see what a wonderful person she was after she is found dead the following morning. Mariah is convinced that she was given some kind of poison and sets off to the house of her relatives who rejected her at Christmas to tell them the sad news and secretly find out who killed her.

Anne Perry draws upon the hidden lives of many Victorians as they try to keep their secrets away from scrutiny. Mariah herself suffered intensely during her marriage, but has never let anyone know the truth. It was not the way to create a scandal. Whilst searching for the killer and helping the family come to terms with their loss, she finds a way of coming to terms with her own past and finds herself mellowing with time.

From what I can gather Anne Perry uses a lot of the same characters in her other books. Mariah is the grandmother to Charlotte from the Charlotte and Thomas Pitt mysteries which I might just have to investigate. Mariah comes across as a stuffy, prudish old boor to begin with but by the end she has blossomed through my rose tinted glasses into a rather lovable and cuddly grandmother.

It was a lovely Christmas read, especially being able to view how the Victorians seem to wholeheartedly throw themselves into the Christmas preparations. Perry has done a remarkable job of bringing the Victorian traditions to life. I will definitely be including another one of Anne Perry's Victorian Christmas novellas in my reading pile next December.
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on 20 March 2010
Hinted at bad things have turned Mariah Ellison into a cranky old woman who is put up with rather than liked by her relatives. With her usual hosts deciding to visit France for Christmas, the crotchety Mariah is dumped at her daughters. She is joined there by another exile from a family, Maude, a woman who has indecorously spent forty years abroad. In spite of herself, Mariah takes a shine to this stranger. When Maude is found dead, apparently of heart failure, Mariah suspects she was murdered. Is the answer to be found with the dead woman's family?

This is the latest in a series of detective novellas set around Christmas. You don't get a lot for your money - this is only about 30,000 words - but on the plus side what you do get is superb characterisation and excellent period feel. The snobbery, pretension and strait-laced rules of Victorian society are beautifully illustrated in a most clear and pleasing way. This is not my usual kind of historical novel, but I found this a real page-turner. Unfortunately, the actual resolution of the plot at the end is very disappointing, and Mariah's conversion to Christmas cheer doesn't convince. Still, there are worse ways to spend a holiday than reading this!
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on 25 May 2010
Mariah Ellison, grandmother to Charlotte Pitt and Emily Radley, is forced to spend Christmas with their mother Caroline. The murder of another guest at Carolines forces Mariah to face up to things in her past that she has kept hidden and makes her a more pleasant person.
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VINE VOICEon 6 December 2007
Reading this in December, I was hoping for a taste of Christmas past, unfortunately I just found it a bit sappy and moralistic.
The main character is a miserable old grandmother who's greatest pleasure is making life hard for other people, emanating negativity wherever she goes.
When her granddaughter informs her that they are away for Christmas and other arrangements have been made for her she reacts with typical anger and offense.
Then the expected 'worst Christmas of my life' turns out to be both interesting and emotional and Mariah Ellison suddenly develops a whole new positive outlook on life.
More of an old fashioned fairy tale really, where good triumphs over bad, but certainly not riveting or page-turning.
This is a book that may well appeal to fans of Anne Perry's Pitt detective series, where Mrs Ellison is a well known figure, but as a read-alone I found it lacking.
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on 3 August 2014
very good i always find anne perry books keep you reading right to the end
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on 31 May 2012
Grandma is the gran we all love to hate. She enjoys being miserable and making everyone else miserable. Here she's given more of a spotlight than in the novels, to which this novella heavily refers. The sparks between grandma and her fiesty daughter-in-law are a joy to read!
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on 15 June 2012
Another gripping story by Anne Perry. I can hardly keep up with her, she is such a prolific writer and so knowledgable about what she writes.
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