Mistress of mystery Agatha Christie

Devon coastline

Devon coastline image courtesy of vickei, Morguefile.

My book club continues to progress through our chosen books. We read through The Kite Runner and are now working on Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love this month. For October, I suggested that we read something with a hint of spooky and another member came up with the idea of reading an autobiography of mystery author Agatha Christie, edited by Mathew Prichard, grandson of Agatha Christie. Oh, yeah!

How fun it would have been, do you think, to have had Agatha Christie as your grandmother? I think she would have been a fantastic person to know. In a January 2013 story in The Journal, Prichard describes her as modest, generous, kind and enthusiastic; she also loved opera, archaeology and food (especially lobster and ice cream).

I also own a book about Agatha Christie’s home, Greenway, in Devon, England that my British friend H. gave me as a Christmas present one year. In one section of the book, there are two interesting and funny questionnaires that Agatha and her daughter Rosalind Hicks filled out in April 1954, and each questionnaire gives a lot of insight into the mind of each woman.  According to the questionnaire, Agatha’s favorite color was mauve, her favorite flower was lily of the valley and her favorite hero in fiction was Rhett Butler. Her favorite occupation was sitting in the sun dozing, her idea of happiness was sunshine and quietness, and her pet aversions were crowds, noise, parties and too much conversation.

Rosalind, by contrast, liked the color pink and had rose as her favorite flower. Her favorite hero was Captain Horatio Hornblower from the C.S. Forester novels (Is that any surprise since Devon is close to the sea? *grins*). Favorite occupation was also sitting in the sun while doing nothing (hmm…must have taken after her mum in the love of sunshine), idea of happiness was basking in the sun, and pet aversions were conceited and pompous people.

Agatha wrote so many books and created so many great characters that it’s hard to pick favorites. I like The Boomerang Clue, What Mrs. McGillycuddy Saw (a.k.a. 4:50 From Paddington), The Pale Horse, and Cat Among The Pigeons.

I like her flippant and gutsy husband-and-wife characters Tommy and Tuppence Beresford, as well as characters Ariadne Oliver, Jane Marple and Hercule Poirot. (“Ah, ze leetle gray cells….”) I always thought Poirot would make a marvelous dad or uncle, but it seems that he had a long-term thing for Countess Vera Rossokoff, glamorous jewel thief, so he never got the girl. 😦

But seeing David Suchet play Poirot is some consolation; he recreates Poirot so perfectly. The BBC has done a number of Agatha’s novels, and I love watching her characters come to life.

I’m hearing from BBC News that another author is bringing back Poirot in a new novel. Hmmm. We’ll see what happens.



Filed under Writing

13 responses to “Mistress of mystery Agatha Christie

  1. Have you started reading the autobiography? Please let me know how it is! I remember being engrossed by her mysteries when I was a child.

  2. Somehow Agatha Christie sounds a bit like my grandmother, a librarian who loved history and was also an author. Her grandson really was lucky to have such a delight in the family.
    That book about Christie’s home sounds fascinating – love the questionnaires. Who’s that author?

  3. must reread some of Agatha—you have piqued my interest

  4. Jaclyn

    Ah, I love Dame Agatha! When I was a kid, my town library was woefully under-stocked, but they did have several shelves of Christies, and I’ve loved her ever since. Miss Marple is my favorite – I always picture her as looking like my intrepid grandmama. I saw that news about the new Poirot novel and I’m not sure what to think… on the one hand, I think I’d prefer if people would just leave well enough alone. I don’t want to ruin Poirot with spinoffs. But on the other hand, the Christie family approves, so they must believe that the author will do a good job. Time will tell!

    Are you a fan of Dorothy L. Sayers?

    • I’ve read a lot of Margery Allingham, but I have not read any Dorothy Sayers. *hangs head in mock shame*

      I keep hearing about Dorothy Sayers, but haven’t actually picked up any of her books. Yet another item to add to the literary bucket list, I think.

  5. Agatha has always been my all-time favourite mystery writer. I think it would’ve been great to know her in person! Last time I was in a bookshop I saw a book that talked about her writing process, and there were all these notes and everything. I didn’t get it because I already had a good haul of (pricey) books, and I didn’t want to come across any spoilers, haha.

  6. It took me entirely too long to read her books, but once I did, I could not stop! I’ve never seen another author who managed to write so many books so well! Normally they get repetitive, but hers don’t seem to.


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