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Summary

'If I could work my will,' said Scrooge indignantly, 'every idiot who goes about with "Merry Christmas" on his lips should be boiled with his own pudding and buried with a stake of holly through his heart.'

A Christmas anthology from legendary historian and Christmas Cracker compiler John Julius Norwich.

This year go carol singing in the Cotswolds with Laurie Lee or attend church with a grumpy Samuel Pepys. Make plum puddings for bemused French villagers with Elizabeth David; go present shopping with Virginia Woolf, or eat far too much with Agatha Christie. Celebrate Christmas at Chatsworth, in the workhouse or marooned in the ice with Shackleton....

For the last for 45 years, the arrival of John Julius Norwich's latest Christmas Cracker has become as essential a part of the Christmas experience as holly and mistletoe. In An English Christmas, the legendary popular historian has finally gathered all the best writing about this strangest and most memorable time of year into one audiobook.

Vividly evoking all the good things about the festive season, this unexpected anthology is just as entertaining about its darker aspects.

Eight-year-old Princess Margaret's thank-you list jostles with moving letters home from the trenches. Sherlock Holmes solves his trickiest case. George Orwell writes about indigestion, Jane Austen about reluctant socialising and Thomas Hardy about the old folk belief that all animals kneel at midnight on 24 December. There are ghost stories, games and bizarre recipes. Diary entries, recipes and letters sit alongside poems and short stories. An English Christmas could convert any Scrooge into an instant enthusiast.

©2017 John Julius Norwich (P)2017 Hodder & Stoughton Limited

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All you ever remembered or dreamed about Christmas

Sorry I’m not feeling well enough to write a proper review...but listening to this book is just wonderful medicine. The narration is outstanding and totally appropriate to every piece in this anthology. I didn’t know about the author’s annual collection of pieces in his “Christmas Crackers”, I just wanted something warming and heartening for the time before Christmas in what has been a really grim 2017 for many.
This is a rich collection of poetry; passages from Dickens, Pepys and other sources; historic recipes for posset and Mrs Beeton’s Christmas pudding; descriptions of Queen Victoria’s Christmas and Moley’s return to Mole End from Wind in the Willows and many other descriptions of Christmasin ever form you can think of ..and oh so much more! This is one of the very best Audible books I’ve bought out of 750 in my collection over 10 years. I think I shall be playing this on a loop from now to Christmas .Give yourself a little Christmas cheer and treat yourself to this. You won’t regret it.

25 people found this helpful

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A Delightful Festive Selection

This is a charming compendium of Christmas-themed writing, with a wide selection of authors of different time periods and temperaments. They make for a very cheerful listen, and are beautifully read by the three principal performers. The introduction by John Julius Norwich is most interesting as well.

4 people found this helpful

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A hamper

Well-chosen nuggets and trinkets that evoke a different age with different values.
Oh nostalgia, where are you now?

2 people found this helpful

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Christmas titbits

I loved this book. It is of course essential to listen to it over the Christmas period. Perfect to hear snippets, some long or others short, of classic Christmases

2 people found this helpful

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What a load of drab waffle

Wow, not exactly a joyful tome.
Never heard such a load of drab, miserable waffle. Still not sure what most of it has to do with Christmas.

1 person found this helpful

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enjoyable Christmas whymsy

If you enjoy Christmas quaintness then this is the 'listen' for you. Gareth Armstrong such a brilliant narrator give weigh to this enjoyable 'listen'.

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A Plum Pudding of a Book!

With its gloriously eclectic mix of seasonal readings, John Julius Norwich's 'An English Christmas' has been my joyous companion throughout this Christmas season, and I look forward to enjoying its company in many seasons to come!

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A delight from start to finish.

There is a huge variety of content in this unique anthology. History, reminiscences, poetry, stories, – almost like opening a stocking on Christmas morning and finding something delightful and unique in each beautifully packaged gift. Thank you.

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I cannot recommend this highly enough! Superb!

"An English Christmas" is a beautiful, moving, and surprisingly funny collection of letters, poems, recipes, diary entries, excerpts and other records describing all shapes and forms of English Christmas. John Julius Norwich succeeded at the unimaginably challenging feat of capturing both the permanent nature of Christmas and its meaning to us, as well as its ever-slightly-changing form across time and place. We can thus see that centuries ago, just like now, Christmas was both a time of squabbles, drama, and overindulgence, as well as a time of magic, reflection, kindness, and sometimes even humanity at its best. I expected to be moved - the 1914 letters from the Western Front all brought me to tears - but I did not expect to laugh as much as I did.
I cannot recommend this highly enough - this is the perfect book to enjoy the anticipation of Christmas even more than usual.

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  • Charlene
  • 27-12-17

Where is the Christmas spirit?

I never got past Chapter 1 because it was exhausting to listen. I expected uplifting stories that would help keep Christmas cheers alive in my heart. Instead after the preface, I heard mostly passive aggressive journal entries or letters of complaint. It makes me hopeful that humanity has come farther than I thought when I heard these “stories”.

1 person found this helpful