Tuesday, May 11, 2010

BOOK: Bethlehem Road by Anne Perry

Bethlehem Road by Anne Perry, 308 pages

Historical Mysteries Challenge; Our Mutual Read Challenge

Setting: Victorian London, about 1880s

Series: # 10 of 25 in the Charlotte and Thomas Pitt mysteries, but the 20th one I've read. I spent much of the early 2000s reading Anne Perry mysteries, the Pitts and also the William Monk series, always available at the library

Series Overview: Charlotte Ellison Pitt married down in class for love, to a lowly policeman, Thomas Pitt. Thomas gets to rub shoulders with a higher class through Charlotte's family, including her rich sister Emily, and Emily's great aunt in law, Vespasia. Charlotte never minds getting involved with one of Thomas' cases. Thomas is smart and knows his place, and takes his job very serious.

This Book: Late one night, a British MP, Member of Parliament, is found with his throat cut and hung up on a bridge. Is there a personal motive or are the anarchists trying to destabilize the monarchy? Nice inclusion of the growing suffragette movement.

The Victorian times: Keeping control, concern of appearances, and maintaining a certain decorum and style are all the fun things to read about but thank heavens I never lived then. Writing in retrospect allows our main characters to be ahead of their time, noticing social injustices, with characters who are very tolerant of different ideas and people.
I liked that Perry included a major theme of the suffragettes in this book. The women are starting to rebel, to talk about their lack of rights. My biggest image of the London suffragettes has always been Mrs Banks marching while Mary Poppins looks after her children all day. (Mary Poppins!) Charlotte of course is very interested in women's rights, and recognizes that she lives a fairly privileged life, even if she only has one young girl to help her and a woman to come in to do the heavy work.

My Thoughts: I haven't spent time with Charlotte and Thomas in a long time and it was great to see them all again, especially Emily and Great-Aunt Vespasia. The mystery itself ended kind of strangely and quickly and it seemed like there should have been another twist. This is a series I'd like to read all and once you've read twenty books, the actual mystery isn't the story - it's the characters and their lives and relationships.