Tuesday, January 31, 2012
Author: Anne Perry
Read by: Terrence Hardiman
Length: 4 CDs (unabridged), 4 Hours, 45 minutes
Source: Review copy from AudioGO through Audiobook Jukebox
A Christmas Homecoming is a short Christmas mystery set during the Victorian period. The main character, Caroline Fielding, is the mother of Charlotte Pitt from Anne Perry’s Charlotte and Thomas Pitt novels. I’ve read a few of those novels, but it has been quite some time. This novel was an excellent stand-alone story.
Caroline is married to a much younger, handsome man named Joshua Fielding. Joshua is a famous actor and he has arranged to produce a stage adaptation of the new novel, Dracula, at the home of a wealthy patron, Charles Netheridge, over the Christmas season with his acting company. The play was adapted by Netheridge’s daughter, Alice, who has much enthusiasm for the project, but not much experience or skill. As Joshua’s company grows frustrated trying to bring life to a lackluster script, a mysterious stranger arrives during a winter storm.
Mr. Ballin has a great knowledge of vampires and helps to inspire the actors and Alice to bring life to the script. As Joshua and company start to hope that the production might actually be able to amount something, Caroline stumbles over a corpse in the hall in the dark of evening. And just as suddenly, the corpse disappears before it can be moved. Where did the corpse vanish? As no one can leave or enter the house due to the blizzard, who murdered the victim? Caroline puts all of her detective skills to use to solve the mystery.
I enjoyed this story immensely. I loved the Victorian County House setting and was intrigued at the behind the scenes look at putting together a theatrical. It was interesting to see how Bram Stoker’s Dracula could be interpreted as a very sensual novel for the time period, and what interest this novel raised in people of the era. Caroline, Joshua, and all of the characters were very interesting. I loved the murder mystery, but I think my only complaint was that it happened at the very end of the book and didn’t have much build-up to the resolution. The novel centered much more heavily on the stage production, which was then put aside and never finished after the murder. I was a bit disappointed in that, I wanted to “see” it carried out to its conclusion.
Although this book was set during the Christmas holiday season, with its Dracula theme, it seemed much more a Halloween type book. The audiobook I listened to was read by Terrence Hardiman. I love a good British accent and I think he did an excellent job reading the book. I enjoyed listening to it and his voice really seemed to bring the page to life.
Overall, A Christmas Homecoming is a very enjoyable Christmas Victorian mystery, especially with the story centering on the stage production of Dracula. This is my fourth item in the Victorian Challenge 2012, second item in the 2012 Audiobook Challenge, and third item in the 2012 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge.