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A Literary Christmas

Length: 2 hrs and 16 mins
4.0 out of 5 stars (1 rating)

Non-member price: $10.47

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Publisher's Summary

Read by Juliet Stevenson and Simon Callow, A Literary Christmas is a seasonal anthology that collects together poems, short stories, and prose extracts by some of the greatest poets and writers in the English language. 

Like Charles Dickens’ ghosts of Christmas Past and Present, they are representative of times old and new - from John Donne’s Elizabethan hymn over the baby Jesus to Rudyard Kipling’s "Christmas in India", from Thomas Tusser counting the cost of a Tudor feast to Laurie Lee’s "Cider with Rosie". 

Enjoy a convivial Christmas Day as described by Samuel Pepys, Anthony Trollope, George Eliot, or Nancy Mitford. Venture out into the snow in the company of Jane Austen, Henry James, and Dickens’ ever-popular Mr Pickwick. Entertain the children with the seasonal tales of Dylan Thomas, Kenneth Grahame, Louisa May Alcott, and George Mackay Brown.

Please note: This is a vintage recording, and the audio quality reflects the technology of the time.

©2013 The British Library Board (P)2013 The British Library Board

Critic Reviews

"[a] beautifully presented cornucopia" (Rachel Redford, The Oldie)

What listeners say about A Literary Christmas

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Pauses

Great anthology, poor presentation. There is hardly time to catch a breath, let alone a pause for thought between each piece. Excellent narrators

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  • Conguirk
  • 03-12-2014

Marvelous, with one very avoidable flaw

Would you listen to A Literary Christmas again? Why?

Yes, it's a cozy and thoroughly enjoyable recording, with two of England's finest actor voices.

What was one of the most memorable moments of A Literary Christmas?

Simon Callow's reading of the passage describing the Christmas Eve ball in Fezziwig's warehouse absolutely brims with enthusiasm and perfectly brings to life all of Dickens' descriptive powers.

What does Juliet Stevenson and Simon Callow bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

The right voice brings out all the humor or pathos or excitement that the author intended.

Any additional comments?

For some reason, there is NO pause between selections. Three seconds to allow the sound of the previous story to fade in your mind's ear, and anticipate the next story, would have earned this an overall 5 stars instead of 4.

72 people found this helpful

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  • Puppy Cat
  • 20-11-2015

Wonderful Christmas stories and excerpts!

This is a wonderful Christmas story collection! I have already listened to it several times. AND BOTH readers are fabulous. I highly recommend it. It will really raise your Christmas spirits to new heights. I have found several other Christmas story collections on Audible, and plan to buy several of them.

16 people found this helpful

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  • idwal tops
  • 31-12-2016

Great voices terrible sound levels

As others have said; please rebalance the sound levels for the whole recording. Add a few seconds quiet between the excellently read performances. Once fixed reissue to all of us!!

13 people found this helpful

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  • Ruth A Wanzek
  • 25-12-2016

Good compilation

It would have been nice to have a break between chapters. Some stories were hard to follow and seemed to be read too fast.

8 people found this helpful

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  • BlueEyes
  • 25-12-2016

Beautiful collection of "The Best of Christmas"

Excellent British narrators make this vast collection of Christmas stories and poems a pleasure to listen to and go back to each holiday season. I really enjoyed the stories read with the British emphasis on these English classics.

6 people found this helpful

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  • HalfwayToTheStars
  • 26-12-2016

Excellent short stories and excerpts

What did you love best about A Literary Christmas?

This is delightful. I was laid up at home on Christmas and bought this for Simon Callow's wonderful voice, he's a longtime favorite actor. Chapters listed by name instead of 40 numbers can be found by hitting "Amazon Reviews". Putting "'Twas the night before Christmas" first was a stroke of genius as that is the first go-to from my childhood. Others have mentioned the lack of gaps between story excerpts which is particularly awful for the Christmastime war stories. I either stopped the play when a new story began and/or watched the min. remaining countdown. Looks like this is Simon's only Audible presentation, hope he does many more. Juliet Stevenson is equally good.

What other book might you compare A Literary Christmas to and why?

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What about Juliet Stevenson and Simon Callow ’s performance did you like?

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If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

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Any additional comments?

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4 people found this helpful

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  • Judith
  • 26-12-2016

Mixed feelings

Ms. Stevenson's performance was good, Mr. Callow spoke too quickly especially when using heavy accents. The volume of each chapter varies so I had to keep turning my volume up and down which was annoying.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Heidy
  • 25-12-2016

delightful

this was a great joy to my family and a refreshed enthusiasm for the classics

3 people found this helpful

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  • Wayne
  • 25-12-2016

Extraordinary performance

The content is secondary to the performance of the narrators. I wish a few seconds had been placed between the individual content items.

9 people found this helpful

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  • resol
  • 31-12-2016

excellent poetry

this collection of excerpts from Victorian English literature and poetry through the 1920s just sets up the mood. curiously, there are a hand ful of world war one poems (published in the 1920s, that focuses on the Christmas truce (i.e. g k. Chesterton).

2 people found this helpful

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  • E. Lewis
  • 30-12-2019

Wonderful for Christmas

I loved listening to this. The performances were excellent. One criticism is that there is almost no break between one piece and the next. As soon as one poem or excerpt finishes, the next starts, almost on top of the other and it rather spoils this. There needs to be a fraction more of a pause. Take the very last poem, the moment Simon Callow finishes on a very dramatic note, you get someone saying “Audible hopes you enjoyed this...” and it ruins the moment. Please give a couple of seconds more between each reading.