What constitutes a mystery?
In this delightful tale, Lori Shepherd learns that her Aunt Dimity has died. “I was stunned. Not because she was dead, but because I had never known she’d been alive,” says Lori. Her mother used to tell her stories, featuring the indomitable Aunt Dimity.
Recently, Lori’s life has been a downward spiral. She struggles to eek by as a temp in Boston. And then, she is contacted by a law firm, Willis & Willis, who are carrying out the wishes of one Miss Dimity Westwood. Aunt Dimity, we learn, was a dear friend of Lori’s mother. The two women had met during wartime in London.
Yet it is not until around page 45 that we are presented with even the hint of anything mysterious. A particular photograph belonging to Dimity Westwood was given to Lori’s mother. The photo was thought to have caused Dimity great distress and related to some incident, for which Dimity felt she could not be forgiven. Very curious indeed.
But this is no murder, nor as we read further, is there ever a murder. Yet this novel is considered a mystery. “One of the 100 Best Mysteries of the Century,” by the Independent Mystery Booksellers Association. In actuality, the story is more fairy tale/ghost story with a lighthearted mystery: what is the story of the photograph?
Lori’s narration strolls along enjoyably, and her story is interesting, though not suspenseful. We meet a cast of colorful characters–all with their part to play–in unraveling this “unknown” event in Aunt Dimity’s past. Along the way, we meet Aunt Dimity, or rather her ghost, communicating with Lori via a journal. This supernatural occurrence blends quite well with the fairy tale-like adventure.
Yet can it truly be considered a mystery? Well yes and no. It is not a murder mystery. Yet there is a mystery to solve, the truth about the mysterious photo. This, however, may not be enough for some readers. I would say the Aunt Dimity stories are more akin to Jan Karon’s Mitford series. Though not everyone’s cup of tea, there is a rather fun story here for passing a rainy afternoon in cozy comfort.