I’m known as the gift guru in our family (that’s an unofficial title). If anyone needs an idea for the perfect present for somebody, they come to me. This year, I’m sharing this superprowess with you, Dear Reader, should you find yourself in need of the Perfect Holiday Gift for the Victorian mystery fan (or, ahem, author…) on your list!
Even in the twenty-first century, we have strong associations with the Christmas season and the Victorian era, and no wonder—they redefined the holiday for the modern age. Book three of the Myrtle Hardcastle Mysteries, Cold-Blooded Myrtle, takes place at Christmas, but you won’t get to read that until October 2021. In the meantime, please consider supporting the bookstores who hosted launch events for Premeditated Myrtle and How to Get Away with Myrtle this fall. They may still have signed bookplates available when you order copies!
If all your friends and loved ones already have the first two Myrtle books (in hardcover, ebook, and rave-reviewed audio editions!), never fear! I have plenty more suggestions for how to stuff those stockings. I am not affiliated with any of the merchants listed below, but I have patronized them and know they would appreciate your business, as well.
For the Antique Lover
For the Victoriana fan, there’s nothing better than genuine 19th century artifacts. Thanks to the boom in mass production and consumer culture, many antiques have survived and are readily available on the secondary market—and depending on your interests, can be quite affordable.
Consider a stereoscope viewer and stereographs for the travel buff or Viewmaster fan. They can be found easily on ebay, along with hundreds of “Views” (images). See this post on stereographs for more information–and some views you can print off for your own device!
Nothing says Victorian home decor more than a crazy quilt. Early versions date from mid-century, but the crazy quilting craze swept the US and England after the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition in 1876. Period quilts in good condition command high prices for their luxurious fabrics and exquisite embroidery.
For the Old Soul
If real antiques aren’t in your budget or practical for your lifestyle, then allow me to introduce you to Victorian Trading Company, a local business here in my hometown that’s been providing reproductions and Victorian-inspired goods to the discerning customer since late last century. A prowl through their outlet shop on their rare Open House days is a treasure hunt, but for those who can’t make it here, their catalogue/website offers a world of period delights—everything from food, stationery, reproduction toys, luxurious clothing and accessories, home decor, books, and more.
For the Reader
Book lovers never get tired of getting books as gifts! Here are some of my own favorite recent mystery recommendations, for readers of all ages:
The prototype for all girl detectives to come, Violet Strange is an ideal heroine for the Edwardian age, and her debutante sleuthing makes for delightful and puzzling reads. (More of Green’s books are on my own wish list this year…HINT. Ahem.)
In the first of four middle-grade novels, a young Zora Neale Hurston and friend Carrie solve a paranormal mystery in 19th century Eatonville, Florida. Highly recommended for the kids on your list!
When my editor at Alqonquin Young Readers acquired the Myrtle Hardcastle Mysteries, she said they’d be perfect for the younger siblings of Jackaby fans—and then she sent me Will Ritter’s first ghostly Victorian mystery to prove her point. (Well played, Editor, well played.)
Oh, what Myrtle would have made of such a book! My friend Bridget Heos has compiled the perfect history of forensic science for young readers, from the earliest days of crime scene investigation, to up-to-the-minute modern techniques. Hand this one to Myrtle fans who want to know how far the science of criminology has come.
For the Anglophile
If you are stuck in the US and craving things like Really Good Tea, Christmas pudding, and Violet Flake, Brits USA in Lawrence, KS, is your answer.
And while you’re sipping your Really Good Tea and nibbling your custard tarts, you will want some English TV to watch. Streaming options for classic British series and films include Britbox and Acorn TV (available on most streaming platforms). I highly recommend “Campion” on Britbox, based on the novels of Margery Allingham and starring Peter Davison.
For the Less Fortunate
And lest we forget, giving to charity was a time-honored tradition near and dear to Victorian hearts. Many of our most well-known and respected organizations, like the Salvation Army (1865, London) and the ASPCA (1866, New York City), had their origins in the 19th century. Be sure to include your own favorite cause among those you remember this holiday season.