I acquired this audiobook earlier this year, after seeing an excellent stage production of [b:Under Milk Wood|763508|Under Milk Wood|Dylan Thomas|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1347670819s/763508.jpg|243711], which I reviewed here. I've saved it up to listen to at Christmas time. Recorded in 1952, Dylan Thomas narrates his memoir of a childhood Christmas in Swansea in South Wales, as well as five of his poems, including the one with which I am most familiar, Do not go gentle into that good night.
A Child's Christmas in Wales is a beautiful, gentle and humorous story of the elements of a Christmas day from long ago, seen from a child's perspective: the snow, the gifts, the food, the relatives, the friends, and indeed the town itself. Thomas narrates it with tenderness and warmth and the prose is infused with the lyrical quality of his poetry. As I listened, a snowy day in Swansea was conjured up for me by Thomas’ words, even though the childhood Christmases to which my memory turns are filled with sunshine, sand, the sound of waves and the smell of pine trees.
While I very much enjoyed listening to Thomas read his memoir, I enjoyed listening to his poetry somewhat less. That wasn’t because of the quality of the poems, but because Thomas favoured a rather declamatory style of poetry recital which doesn’t really appeal to me. I would have preferred a more understated verbal style, but as Thomas wrote the poems, I guess he could recite them as he thought fit.
While I may skip listening to the poems in future and just read them instead, A Child’s Christmas in Wales will probably become a Christmas listening tradition.