One of the best things about my Agatha Christie challenge has been learning all sorts of trivia about the books I’ve loved for many many years. I never realised that Dead Man’s Folly was actually written around a real, specific location, namely Greenway House in South Devon. Once the beloved holiday home of Agatha Christie, the estate is now apparently open to the visitors, and if I’m ever in that part of the UK I’ll be sure to look it up.
Another compulsively readable novel from the author of Big Little Lies. I forgot to take a book with me on our recent weekend getaway to Tasmania, so I had to pick something at the airport fast. As a light holiday read this was perfect (I got it as a buy-one-get-second-halfprice deal with Gillian Flynn’s Sharp Objects, but that one is bound to be less fluffy for sure).
I made it to blog post no. 500! Also, Mum and I had a very enjoyable evening yesterday at the Bill Bryson live stage event at the Palais Theatre. So here are some quotes from his books:
“I can’t think of anything that excites a greater sense of childlike wonder than to be in a country where you are ignorant of almost everything.”
“There are three stages in scientific discovery. First, people deny that it is true, then they deny that it is important; finally they credit the wrong person.”
“I mused for a few moments on the question of which was worse, to lead a life so boring that you are easily enchanted, or a life so full of stimulus that you are easily bored.”
“I understand cricket – what’s going on, the scoring – but I can’t understand why.”
“Of all the things I am not very good at, living in the real world is perhaps the most outstanding.”
“To my mind, the only possible pet is a cow. Cows love you. They will listen to your problems and never ask a thing in return. They will be your friends forever. And when you get tired of them, you can kill and eat them. Perfect.”
“It is easy to overlook this thought that life just is. As humans we are inclined to feel that life must have a point. We have plans and aspirations and desires. We want to take constant advantage of the intoxicating existence we’ve been endowed with. But what’s life to a lichen? Yet its impulse to exist, to be, is every bit as strong as ours – arguably even stronger. If I were told that I had to spend decades being a furry growth on a rock in the woods, I believe I would lose the will to go on. Lichens don’t. Like virtually all living things, they will suffer any hardship, endure any insult, for a moment’s additional existence. Life, in short, just wants to be.”
This enjoyable Poirot novel is one of those Christie books that, despite having a good solid murder mystery at its core, is mostly enjoyable for the aspects other than the actual crime investigation. It’s unusually playful and self-referential at times, with Dame Agatha taking the opportunity to poke fun at her most popular creation.
I could describe this initially very promising book club read as, well, a fire: it starts off with an explosive bang, burns bright and strong for a while, before slowly dying out. It’s by no means a disaster and I enjoyed many aspects of the novel, but perhaps it simply spread itself too thin, with too many characters, perspectives and story threads competing for space.
During her prolific career, Agatha Christie penned a few spy thrillers, or at least novels with strong elements of international intrigue and espionage, which for me were never on the same level with her best work (I keep putting off re-reading any of the Tommy and Tuppence novels, easily my least favourite Christie series). This book is not a fully fledged espionage novel, more like a strange hybrid of spy thriller and boarding school murder mystery, with Hercule Poirot cameo thrown in the last third for reasons that, one suspects, have nothing to do with story needs. Though flawed and uneven, it’s still quite enjoyable.
Memory is a funny thing; I could remember the setting, the victim and the narrator of this Poirot mystery, but as it turned out my memory of the killer’s identity was completely off. I pinned the deed on the wrong person the whole time I was re-reading the book and naturally, the ending had me gobsmacked.