Christmas Audiobook Review: “A Classic Tales Christmas”

Christmas Audiobook Review: “A Classic Tales Christmas”

About the book: Are you a meat-and-potatoes Christmas fan? Does your idea of holiday nostalgia go back further than Home Alone or A Charlie Brown Christmas? Are you ready to get a little weird? A Classic Tales Christmas, a 2012 audiobook exclusive, might just be for you.

The full text of Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol is the capper on a 14-hour journey through holiday tales that range from the familiar (Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Little Match Girl”) to the virtually unknown (Francis Hodgson Burnett’s “Behind the White Brick,” anyone?). There’s a Sherlock Holmes story (Arthur Conan Doyle’s “The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle”), a little poetry (Robert Louis Stevenson’s “Christmas at Sea”), a Bible reading (Luke 2:7-14), and more Dickens. An apt subtitle might be A Very Public Domain Holiday Celebration.

Most Christmasy moment: The whole collection is a reminder that the warmth of the season has been long-sought, but beyond Scrooge’s redemption, Clement Moore’s uber-iconic “A Visit from St. Nicholas” probably takes the fruitcake.

Least Christmasy moment: F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Ice Palace” (1920) isn’t even a Christmas story, and it’s completely terrifying. When a southern belle visits her fiancé’s northern hometown (an unnamed but undisguised St. Paul, Minnesota), she hates the cold and the snow. The fact that the locals have an annual winter carnival that involves the creation of a giant ice palace doesn’t help endear her, especially when she gets lost in its bowels and gets so cold that she slips into a nearly deadly delirium and starts to hear voices.

“You’re not crying,” something said aloud. “You’ll never cry any more. Your tears would just freeze; all tears freeze up here!”
She sprawled full length on the ice. “Oh, God!” she faltered.

When she’s rescued, she dumps her beau and screams for him to send her straight home, where she delightedly rediscovers the “quite enervating yet oddly comforting heat” of the Georgia sun.

About the audiobook: Narrator B.J. Harrison glories in all the hoary prose, with jingle-bell instrumental interludes between stories. Awkwardly, there are also a couple of satirical songs delivered by fictional characters: Wooster and Jeeves “duet” on “Do You Hear What I Hear?” and Long John Silver sings “Thar’ Be No Place Like Home (Fer the Holidays).”

Yo. Ho. Ho.

Jay Gabler