and Christmas Stories.
by Carol Westron
However they are about to emigrate to Canada and ‘He was confident that he would one day be a great engineer. She also believed in miracles.’ The story is written in Wallace’s usual laconic, cynical style but he does provide Angela with her Christmas miracle.
Christie’s other Christmas story was written thirty years earlier and is a far more solemn affair, as is also made clear by its title, A Christmas Tragedy (1930.) In it Miss Marple describes a holiday at a small hotel at a Hydro, a place where invalids, usually elderly, gather to drink healing waters. Miss Marple opens her account with the chilling words, ‘I felt no doubt in my mind the first moment I saw the Sanders together that he meant to do away with her.’ This story has little of Christmas about it, apart from some references to buying presents and the delays caused by the holiday period. It is a melancholy story of a man whom Miss Marple is sure is planning to kill his wife but when tragedy strikes, the husband has an alibi. Miss Marple has to face the fact that she may have been wrong and yet she feels the coincidence is too great.
As Christie demonstrates so skilfully, not all Christmas-time stories are feel-good. The Chinese Apple (1948) by Joseph Shearing (a pen-name used by Marjorie Bowen) is a dark and brooding story about bad memories and regret. The Carol Singers (1963) by Josephine Bell, is about the vulnerability and isolation of old age.
This story uses the device so popular decades earlier of concealing valuable jewellery as decorations on a Christmas tree, but the old lady who does so loses something more valuable than diamonds – her life.
The Ghost’s Touch is a pre-Golden Age story told in the First Person narration of an army doctor, Dr Lascelles, who has features in common with his more famous colleague, Dr Watson. Lascelles is invited by a wealthy but physically frail Australian acquaintance, Percy Ringan, to spend Christmas at his cousin’s home Ringshaw Manor, and on Christmas Eve, the owner of the house, Frank Ringan, tells the story of the haunted bedroom and the fate of those who sleep in it. When a fire in his room forces Percy to sleep in the haunted bedroom, the scene is set for a classic detective/ghost story.
The Thirteen Problems (containing A Christmas Tragedy)
by Agatha Christie
ISBN: 978-07123-5610-7. ASIN: B0111Y3D1G
ISBN: 978-0-7123-5665-7. ASIN: B0111Y3D1G