Christmas with the Chrystals was first published in 1959.
It is now out of print.
Story | Thoughts
and Availability | Other Media
Mrs Cornelius has rented Caldecote Castle, in Kent, to entertain
her children and grandchildren over Christmas, and she employs
Ted and Rosa Chrystal to look after the kitchen.
Mrs Cornelius has been married three times. Virginia, the daughter
from her first marriage, has married Tom Oswald, a gardener, and
has two children, Alan and Benita. There was a son, James Dawson,
by Mrs Cornelius' second marriage: he has died, and his widow,
Lalla, and son, Gardiner, live in America. Her third husband now
lives in South Africa. From this marriage there is a son, Jan,
who also lives in South Africa with his wife, Anna, and their
children, Peter, Jane and Rinke. Mrs Cornelius has never seen
her son-in-law, her daughers-in-law, nor any of her grandchildren.
Mrs Cornelius is a very cold woman, and the children soon learn
that the friendliest place at Caldecote Castle is the kitchen.
The Chrystals have decorated it with Christmas cards and holly,
and it is a "warm, rich-smelling place, full of atmosphere",
unlike the "unlived, characterless" rooms in the rest
of the castle. Gradually, the adults also find out about the welcoming
atmosphere in the kitchen.
(This section contains "spoilers" for those who have
not read the book.)
Christmas with the Chrystals is a fairly simple story
about the softening of an old woman's heart. The children do not
really emerge as individuals - in such a short book, in-depth
character studies of six children, would have been virtually impossible
- but Ted and Rose Chrystal, although somewhat stereotypical,
are clearly presented, and occupy the heart of the work.
Editions and Availability
Christmas with the Chrystals was first published by
Basil Blackwell in 1959.
It was reprinted at least once, in 1960.
It was also included in The Faber Book of Christmas Stories,
edited by Sarah and Stephen Corrin in 1984, and reprinted in 1985.
This collection appears to have been released in paperback as
The Puffin Book of Christmas Stories.
There does not seem to have been a US edition of Christmas
with the Chrystals.
Out of Print
Christmas with the Chrystals is now out of print, and
extremely rare. As at January 2003, I have not been able to find
any second hand copies listed by online booksellers.
In 1987, Christmas with the Chrystals
was included on a Tempo Twins two-cassette set of Christmas stories.
It was read by Nicolette McKenzie.