By Cameron Phillips, Rose Cook and Nuria Berbel Torres
It’s finally December and in the run-up to Christmas, we wanted to share some of our favourite listens to get you in the festive spirit. As the countdown to the big day begins, curl up by the Christmas tree with one of our audiobook picks.
Rose’s Pick: The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding by Agatha Christie, narrated by Hugh Fraser
A traditional English Christmas: the Christmas tree, turkey, stuffing, crackers, stolen jewels and murder…
When Hercule Poirot is invited to spend the festive period at an old country house, he is apprehensive. Due to his previous experience, he wants nothing more than to spend Christmas day in his warm, modern flat, away from the cold, stone manor. But when a valuable ruby is stolen and Poirot is asked to recover it, he is led to a traditional English Christmas with the Lacey family in their formidable manor house. On Christmas Eve, Poirot receives an ominous warning: “Don’t eat none of the plum pudding.”
Then, someone turns up dead.
The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding is a classic Christie murder mystery which creates the perfect festive mood. Christie constructs a British Christmas through her descriptions of snow, turkey, mistletoe and traditions. But it wouldn’t be Agatha Christie without a twist and the end of the story is a fun, amusing conclusion. Hugh Fraser’s narration adds to the setting and mood of this enjoyable Christmas tale.
Along with The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding, the audiobook contains four more of Christie’s short stories, which can be listened to all-in-one go, or dipped in and out of over the festive season. A perfect listen to get yourself in the Christmas mood!
Cameron’s Pick: Celebrations: Rituals of Peace and Prayer, written and narrated by Maya Angelou
When holidays such as Christmas come around, it seems as though the attitudes towards the things we hold, or perhaps should hold dear, are sensationalised. Rest, family, laughter and community. These, in my eyes, are things we should, circumstances allow, be celebrating every day, and we should not allow Christmas to be an exception.
Maya Angelou’s Celebrations is relevant at any time of year, but as I have stressed above, her focus on finding joy daily is certainly stressed during the Christmas holidays. When it is easy to get caught up in the madness that is Christmas, these poems provide the clarity needed in order to see what I feel are the most important things. Angelou writes of celebrations public and private; bar mitzvah wishes to her nephew and birthday greetings to Oprah Winfrey. Angelou’s self-narration lends the poems that sense of sensitivity and warmness that will charm and make the listener laugh. Amazing Peace is my pick of the poems. As silly as a birthday message to Oprah might be, the nonchalant nature of it creates a sense of universality that we can all share. We all have an “Oprah” in our lives, and Angelou’s message to her is no different than to ours. I don’t think that Angelou is a poet laureate, I much prefer her longer prose, but that is itself a compliment because the totality and empathetic nature of her words make them worth listening to.
Nuria’s Pick: One Day in December by Josie Silver narrated by Eleanor Tomlinson and Charlie Anson
One Day in December is a captivating tale that intertwines the complexities of fate, friendship, and love. Set against the backdrop of London during a snowy December, Laurie experiences a moment with a stranger through a bus window, firmly believing she had just experienced love at first sight. However, when her best friend introduces her new boyfriend, Jack, Laurie realises he's the man from that fleeting moment.
What ensues is a beautifully woven narrative spanning a decade, exploring the intricate dynamics between Laurie, Sarah, and Jack. Silver navigates the intricacies of missed opportunities, friendship, heartache, and the unpredictability of fate. As the characters traverse through the years, the story delves into the ebbs and flows of their lives, offering a poignant reminder that destiny often has its own timeline.
Josie Silver's narrative prowess shines through in the palpable emotions and relatable dilemmas faced by the characters, drawing listeners into a whirlwind of emotions. The great rendition by Tomlinson and Anson vividly brings to life the warmth, heartache, and hope embedded within the pages, making it a perfect companion for the holiday season- a tale that evokes nostalgia and the enduring power of love.