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Publisher's Summary

A cold case adds an extra chill to the holiday season as best-selling author Anne Perry whisks listeners to an elegant home in the English countryside for a Christmas of secrets, soul-searching, and forgiveness.

As beautiful as it may be, their friends’ country house is not where Lady Vespasia wishes to spend Christmas with her new husband, Victor Narraway. She’d have preferred a relaxing holiday at home with him - especially as Victor, former head of the London Special Branch, seems to be hiding undercover dealings with the other guests who have gathered at the spacious estate.

As tensions grow, the young and beautiful Iris Watson-Watt becomes the center of several men’s focus. Unbeknownst to Vespasia, Iris carries a sensitive package that she must pass to Victor in the hope of unmasking a British traitor. While Victor plots his moves, he is reminded of a similar case from 20 years before, when a young Frenchwoman also carried a clandestine message - one that resulted in her murder, unsolved to this day. Victor has always been tormented by his failure to protect her, and now, with all eyes on Iris, Victor must act fast before history repeats itself.

With the joy of Christmas at risk of being forgotten and Vespasia feeling alone with a distracted husband, Victor must ultimately learn to forgive himself in order to save both his country and the spirit of the holiday. 

©2019 Anne Perry (P)2019 Recorded Books

What listeners say about A Christmas Gathering

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Another enjoyable shorter mystery from Anne Perry

Lady Vespasia, now Lady Vespasia Narraway, since her marriage to Victor Narraway, former head of the Special Branch, wanted to spend Christmas with Victor, at home, with a few close friends over. Instead, they are spending Christmas at Cavendish Park, with a small group of social acquaintances, none of whom are really close friends. Lady Vespasia has known the hosts, Lady Amelia and Max Cavendish, for many years, but no, she and Amelia are not really friends. So why are they there? Lady Vespasia is fairly sure Victor has another Special Branch assignment, though he isn't saying that. Victor, meanwhile, is troubled not only by the assignment at Christmas when he and Vespasia would rather be home, but by echoes of a similar assignment many years ago, relatively early in his career. This assignment, like the earlier one, is aimed at passing along secret military documents--that have been subtly altered to ensure the Germans won't get the good information they're after, and the Special Branch will also be able to identify the real leaker. In this assignment, Victor's role is to receive the documents from someone better able to receive them from their source, and then later pass them on to someone who can pass them to the next link in the chain. In the previous one, his role was to protect the young woman who was to pass the papers to the person playing what is now Victor's role. In that earlier assignment, he failed, and the young woman was killed. He's haunted by guilt over that. When the young woman he is to received documents from in this new assignment is attacked and badly, perhaps fatally, wounded, his guilt explodes, and he absolutely must find the attacker and successfully complete this last assignment. It's an emotionally challenging time for Vespasia, Victor, and others among the little company of guests. In particular, Victor and Vespasia are still comparatively new to their marriage, and each remains astonished that the other chose to enter the marriage. (Vespasia is a good deal older than Victor; Victor is of a much lower social background.) The young lady who is carrying the documents this time, Iris Watson-Watts, is beautiful, and her husband, again of slightly lower social standing, is worried and a bit jealous of the apparent fascination the other men at the gathering regard her with. And so on through the group; everyone has reasons for insecurity. And of course, there's the small matter of the attack on Iris and who the attacker was, as well as what his real purpose is. Like all of Perry's Christmas stories, this is fairly short, and very contained in location and participants. It is also, like the others, an opportunity for the series regulars in it to grow emotionally and move forward in their lives. Very well done! Recommended. I bought this audiobook.

3 people found this helpful

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Revenge and Redemption

This was my first Anne Perry listen. I was quite taken with the characters though some time was needed to place them in their proper relational positions. Both main characters were rich in depth; I cared for each of them. I actually quite loved this book which is an unusual word to use since the plot itself was 'darker' than one would expect in a Christmas season story. The writer creates a vivid setting which I could easily picture. Always a plus. The ending found me glad to have listened and to have discovered a new author.

2 people found this helpful

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Upper crust angst, intrigue, and a December-May romance

While “Christmas” appears in the title, it has little to do with the story. This is my intro to Perry. Her character introspection is finely drawn and I loved the depiction of the main characters’ marriage: fine minds & a significant age difference enveloped in absolute devotion. I stumbled a bit with some plot details, but didn’t particularly care. Just the right length, too.

2 people found this helpful

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What happened to Narraway??

Wow! This was a waste of a credit. I’ve always enjoyed the Narraway and Vespasia characters in the Pitt books but their characters are almost unrecognizable in this book. There is virtually no plot and a lot of internal whinging by Narraway, which along with his insecurities, lack of political savvy, observation skills, and critical analysis abilities, makes his character completely unfamiliar as the razor sharp former head of Special Branch. This guy could not have succeeded in that job. The other characters, including Vespasia, are one-dimensional and boring. I recommend giving this one a miss.