Wednesday 3 April 2013

Enjoying Agatha Christie At The Moment

Tomorrow a friend and I are going camping on the motorbikes in the north east of Tasmania. We're probably mad as the temps today are high of 15 degrees C (59 F) and nights are forecast to be about 9 C which is 48 F but the sun is shining. Winter will be here before too long but the autumn days are gorgeous and we're going to take the bull by the horns with warm clothes, our cameras and technology and enjoy ourselves.  Tasmania is so incredibly beautiful in the fall. We don't get the New England USA colours but we have our own shades of yellows and the colours combined with the sea and the paddocks are beautiful.

The first message here is for Alex in Leeds.  I died 33% of the way through The Wings of the Dove by Henry James.  I was going really well when the first couple of books were about Kate and the young man she loved but then new characters and lots of waffle hit me hard and I truly couldn't bear any more.  So I am told if I am to read Henry James I should stick with his Turn of the Screw or Washington Square.  I read What Maisie Knew for our book group a year or so ago and was fairly neutral about it. I am sure I have the Penguin versions of his other books so maybe another time I will give them a try..

Instead, I switched on my Kindle and saw the list of Agatha Christie books I have.  My mother was a big Agatha Christie fan when I was growing up. She had the entire set of her books in paperback once upon a time but when she moved house quite awhile ago she got rid of all of them.  I still had not experienced her until one month in a previous book club I belonged to we each chose one and discussed it. I enjoyed the book but now don't remember the title.

I have just completed A Caribbean Mystery which I enjoyed quite a bit. Miss Marple on holiday in the warm sunshine of the Caribbean was just what I needed.  My good friend has an aunt who was raised in England and now lives in Melbourne. I was at my friend's house last weekend while her aunt was visiting her here in Tasmania. I told her I was reading Agatha Christie and we had a fun discussion about her. She is now approaching age 80 and has fond memories of reading Agatha when she lived in England and since.  She told me she always reads the first chapter and then the last chapter. I must have had a funny look on my face because she went on to explain that Agatha Christie's clues are scattered throughout the book and she always wants to know who the killer is up front so she can enjoy the inter-weaving of all of the clues.  She gets more enjoyment from her writing style of following the clues and recognising at the time they are clues than to actually try to work out who did it.

I finished A Caribbean Mystery which I enjoyed very much and it never dawned on me who committed the murder. Generally I am pretty good at working these things out but was completely delighted when she stumped me and then I thought.......(slap hand to forehead)...I should have seen that. So much fun.  I am now about 83% (love Kindle's percentages at bottom of the page) through the second Miss Marple book, The 4:50 from Paddington.  Love the concept of being on a train, riding around a sweeping bend as another train overtakes the train we're all in and can see a woman being throttled as the faster train flies by. So the chapter begins with a woman turning blue as she is strangled while Mrs. McGillicuddy observes the murder and of course tells her friend Jane Marple.  I thought how on earth does one even begin solving this crime?

Having coffee today with another good friend I mentioned I was reading Miss Marple and I how "gentle" the murders are.  Next to a blood and guts James Patterson or Jo Nesbo, the Agatha Christie mysteries really are about the ongoing perseveration of  Miss Marple, never giving up and she solves the crime yet again. Much like Midsommer Murders, I wouldn't want to live near Miss Marple. People are always getting killed.

I am enjoying these tales and they all lie ahead of me as new books to me. I plan on taking my Kindle with me camping and will continue reading her in my tent over the next two nights.  We tend to go to our tents as soon as it becomes dark and our days are now quite short. By Sunday night we will be on very short days as we change our clocks back an hour.  So stay tuned for the photos and a possible new Penguin book or two from our camping/Penguin hunting trip. Hopefully we won't have icicles on our bikes when we wake up in the mornings. Until then...


  1. Interesting, I guess when the action moves James has to do a whole load more set up and that weighs down the elements you were enjoying. Still, well done for trying. :)

    I think A Carribean Mystery might have been my first Miss M book actually, I remember borrowing it from the library on whim and enjoying it greatly. She was the first truly older character I was ever exposed to as a lead character and I remember wishing I knew someone like her in real life!

  2. My favourite Agatha Christie's are Cat Among The Pigeons (which is set in a girls' boarding school) and And Then There Were None (which keeps you guessing to the very end!). 'A Murder is Announced' is another one which I found the begining to be most appealing and promising, but somehow fell short as the story goes.
    I think I much prefer 'gentle murders' where the fun is in the portrayal of the 'usual suspects' in their different settings, rather than those where the focus is on how violent the crime is.
    Enjoy your camping trip! Travel safe. :)

  3. Thank you for your comments Michelle. I will keep your A. Christie favourites in mind. Camping trip was fine but cold. Made the adventure all that much more. I'll post up some photos soon.


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