Sunday, December 21, 2014

The 10 best Christmases in literature

From a charming scene in War and Peace to Kingsley Amis’s depiction of a ghastly crew of septuagenarians, the best Christmases in literature

War and Peace
Leo Tolstoy, 1869
War and Peace

Audrey Hepburn and Mel Ferrer in War and Peace, 1956. Photograph: Alamy
Nikolai and Sonya are getting ready to put on a pantomime of sorts at Christmas time, and are so delighted with their costumes that they decide to visit the Melyukovs who live some distance away. They set out into a night of stars, frost and silence. Nikolai breathes in an “elixir of eternal youth and joy” – and falls in love with Sonya. He’s in woman’s attire, with tousled hair. Sonya is dressed as a man. But this is no deterrent. The moment could not be more charming. He “kissed her on the lips which wore a moustache and smelt of burnt cork”.

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