Wednesday, September 1, 2010

So, Agatha Christie

I have a father who doesn’t share much about himself. They—father and mother—divided their work as such: big picture (him), details (her). He gives lectures, grounds us, does that sort of thing when there need be an intervention. Otherwise? He’s the one who works more and who handles more stress at work, leaving home stress to be handled by my mother, who also works, but not as much as him. (She’s full-time, he’s mega-time.) I love my father, but I don’t know much about him—about his childhood, etc. He just doesn’t share. So how ever do we bond?

Books. (Just when you think you’re running out of reasons why books are great…!)

We read Agatha Christie. And other authors, but mostly Agatha. We even have a routine for acquiring the titles, which consists of exchanging emails until we reach an agreement.

So, I thought I’d share some about Agatha Christie for YA readers who’ve never heard of/read her.

You’ll see her work go into free domain in your lifetime, that’s how old some of it is (1920s!). Glasses are referred to as “Pince-nez”. A sleeping aid is “Veronal”. You can tell the work is not recent, but it’s not dated—it’s chic.

God, I love it.

See, Ms. Christie didn’t write particularly well. But she was a hell of a storyteller. Sure, there are some less-than-stellar titles in her half-a-century-long career, but that’s to be expected. And even those are pretty enjoyable if you’re in the mood. Now, when she strikes the right note, though… WOW, there are some great mysteries in there.

In fact, yeah, her forte is her plotting. There’ve been very few books I have been able to guess the perpetrator, and I’m usually quite good at reader-sleuthing. She always picks the person you least expect it to be.

Now, what I truly love is how dramatic some of her work is. A mystery involving actresses, theater and deep, dark secrets, set in the 30s or so, with that kind of dialogue and so many, from our futuristic hindsight, charming timely references.

Also—a lot of the titles come from nursery rhymes. I love that.

In short, it is not hard to see why she has sold so many books. Even now, 84 years after her first published work.

If you’re looking for a place to start, here are some recommendations:

Five Little Pigs Lord Edgware Dies
And these two are hailed as her best, although I haven’t read them yet: Death on the Nile and And Then There Were None

Feel free to leave thoughts below and say what your favorites are if you’ve read them!


Liviania said...

You must, you must read AND THEN THERE WERE NONE. It was my favorite, and my first (borrowed it from an uncle since I ran out of books while staying at his house). MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS is also a classic. I love reading Agatha Christie novels.

Amee said...

I've only read one, but I remember liking it, which you already know. :P I'll have to look for your recommendations next time I go to a used bookstore!

Hoi polloi said...

I love Agatha as well but what I love more is that you and your dad can share books. I think it is great what good books can do.

Simply_Megan said...

I've only read And Then There Were None but I loved it! I would definitely recommend it.

Sara J. Henry said...

Some of the later Christies were dreck, but she did know how to tell a story and pull in a reader. One of my favorites: THE HOLLOW, not quite the usual Christie fare. One of my favorite lines from it: "The whole world had
shrunk to a leg of mutton getting cold on a dish." - which helps me whenever I find myself paralyzed by indecision.

Em said...

I love Agatha Christie. And Then There Were None is the classic top pick (have you seen the Bollywood version?), but I really love the Hercule Poirot mysteries as well. I recently read The ABC Murders - a very fun read.

Anonymous said...

I love Agatha Christie and believe I've read almost all of her books. Adding an echo that you must read And Then There Were None. It's one of her best.

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