Christmas is one of those times of year when I find myself reading, watching & listening to old favourites. I’ve collected a lot of Christmas books, CDs & movies over the years & they nearly all make an appearance over the next few weeks as Christmas approaches. I’ve been a member of the Folio Society for many years & they often produce a Christmas anthology. Ghosts & murder seem especially appropriate to Christmas, well, many authors have thought so! As well as the Folio books, I also have an anthology of Clerical Crimes for Christmas that has stories by classic authors like Agatha Christie, Edmund Crispin & Cyril Hare. The Virago Book of Christmas is also a lovely anthology to dip into. It has a short story by Stella Gibbons, Christmas at Cold Comfort Farm, that takes place before Flora Poste arrives.
It’s impossible to think of Christmas without Charles Dickens & A Christmas Carol. It probably doesn’t surprise you to learn that I have several copies of this classic Christmas story. On the left, the beautiful annotated edition by Michael Patrick Hearn. Instead of reading the story in a couple of hours, I can take days to read it along with all the fascinating notes in this edition.
On the right is the Folio Society edition. Here are the gorgeous front endpapers. I also have Penguin & Oxford Classics editions & audio books read by Geoffrey Palmer & Miriam Margolyes.
I love the Hesperus Press editions of the special Christmas editions of Dickens’s journal, Household Words. I have the latest, The Seven Poor Travellers, to read this year.
Traditional Christmas carols are among my favourite pieces of music. Here’s the cover of the Folio Book of Carols, a collection of carols from medieval times to the present. The cover of the book is the same as the cover of the book the carol singers above are using. I’m just as fascinated by the origin of the words & music of the carols & I have a couple of books about this too.
Every year I find myself buying more CDs of Christmas music. Handel’s Messiah, traditional carols sung by choirs, soloists & folk singers.This year I’ve ordered Annie Lennox’s Christmas CD & Bryn Terfel, one of my favourite singers, has finally released a Christmas album. I can’t wait for them to arrive although I have plenty to be going on with. I’ve started listening to them already as I made my Christmas cake & pudding.
Christmas movies are dominated by many versions of A Christmas Carol, including the Muppets version which I’m very fond of. Alistair Sim is my favourite Scrooge. Everything about that production is right. The black & white cinematography, the music, the way so many of the scenes are closely based on John Leech’s original illustrations. Kathleen Harrison’s performance as Mrs Dilber is a scene stealer. A less well-known movie is The Holly & The Ivy starring Celia Johnson & Ralph Richardson. Christmas in the 1950s in a cold Norfolk parsonage where family secrets are revealed. Wonderful cast including Hugh Williams, an actor I like very much. His son is Simon Williams who was so good as James Bellamy in Upstairs Downstairs. The resemblance btween them is especially strong in this movie.
To end the Christmas roundup, I always enjoy a wintry romance at Christmas & this year I’ve bought Twelve Days of Christmas by Trisha Ashley & Last Christmas by Julia Williams. Look at those gorgeous covers. Snow, Christmas trees & glitter. What more could I ask for in the middle of a Melbourne summer? What are your favourite Christmas books, music & movies?