3 December 2017

Confessions of an Agatha Christie addict

Few things give me as much pleasure as reading an Agatha Christie. In fact anything to do with her makes my heart sing. I can remember the first time I was aware of her. We were staying in a holiday cottage in Trevone, Cornwall and there was a bookshelf in the kitchen that was full of trashy, well-read, paperbacks. On of them was 4.50 From Paddington and I used to read the first couple of pages, with their description of a lady getting strangled, and quickly put it back into the shelf. I can still remember feeling the thrill and being desperate to read more but not quite being brave enough. The next year I read the whole book and I was hooked.

Agatha Christie Collection

One of the wonderful things about Agatha Christie is she's not only prolific but popular the world over so whatever holiday I was on I could usually track down and Agatha Christie or two to keep me going. The Man in the Brown Suit was discovered in a newsagents in Zakynthos and the old fashioned bookshop in Padstow with it's tall narrow stacks yielded my first Agatha Christie purchase, a Miss Marple omnibus (pictured). I now have all the books from this, as individuals but I still can't part with it. That was in 1997, and of course it contained 4.50 From Paddington.
Miss Marple Omnibus

At times of crisis, illness or lethargy I reach for an old favourite - Sleeping MurderHercule Poirot's Christmas, Death on the Nile - and Hercule Poirot: the Complete Short Stories live on my bedside table. Every adaptation I have watched (I may have cried when Suchet finished the Poirot set as they started in my childhood), I have the CDs in my car (oh to have the complete set), and still when I see an edition in a bookshop (especially second hand) I struggle not to buy it just because. When I went on my hen-do I gave each of my friends one of the beautiful hardback reprints with the original jacket designs. 

As I type the Branagh re-do of Murder on the Orient Express has just been released and even though I wish they had done another of her stories and I know the tale backwards I will of course go and see it. My best friend from school is currently in the West End performance of The Witness for the Prosecution which I am hoping to see. One of my happiest childhood memories was being taken to see The Mousetrap for my birthday and through every house renovation I have had in my mind where my Agatha Christie library would be.

Agatha Christie Sad CypressI don't know that I will ever get over this passion, and I don't want to. When I was heavily pregnant with my first child my mother and I went to stay in Dartmouth with a friend of hers and we went to Greenway (Agatha Christie's house). As the rain poured I was to be seen, visible sodden bump protruding from ill-fitting no-longer-waterproof mac, trying to see as much of everything as I could. Typically her dream house is also mine. Working for the Agatha Christie company is the only thing I could see that would get me back into an office and having worked for her publishers HarperCollins for 6 years I have the pleasure of knowing her editor who I email regularly for updates. Luckily he (of course) shares my passion so I don't think he minds too much.

Agatha Christie's Endless NightIt may not be considered particularly cool or cerebral to be an Agatha Christie fan but that doesn't matter to me. She didn't claim to be an intellectual great (though she was by no means shabby in the brain department) she wrote stories and tried to make a mystery that the reader couldn't solve before it was revealed. And that is what she does. If you follow me on Instagram you'll know that I am currently reading all the novels in chronological order (the hashtag is chronologicalchristie) and I think this is partly in the vain hope that one will appear that I've never read. I'm not optimistic but I still crave that feeling that you get from reading a new book from your favourite author.

It's not just her books I read but really anything about her or her writing. I'm using Agatha Christie: A Reader's Companion and The Life and Crimes of Agatha Christie to guide me through my chronological quest. My favourite biography of her is by Agatha Christie: An English Mystery by Laura Thompson and I've also ploughed through the Agatha Christie’s Marple: The Life and Times of Miss Jane Marple and Agatha Christie’s Poirot: The Life and Times of Hercule Poirot 'biographies'.

Agatha Christie's Five Little PigsI'm always getting asked for recommendations and though there are a few that always trip off the tongue (Sleeping Murder, Five Little Pigs , Crooked House , Endless Night) so much depends on my mood, the mood and personality of the person asking - I hate to recommend Sleeping Murder as it's the last Miss Marple case but it is my favourite and I just have to assume that not everyone wants to obsessivly read stuff in order (I've just started Maigret!).

Though I love having a pretty complete collection (I am on book 33 of 67 and I think I've only had to download 4 to my kindle) it's so awful when I find one in a second hand book shop or a beautiful new edition comes out. I have three children and not enough money or room to go at this as frantically as I think I could but occasionally a new one will sneak into the collection - this gorgeous set of Styles: The Mysterious Affair at Styles and Curtain: Poirot's Last Case  (pictured below) Poirot's first and last cases is just too lovely not to have and the Murder on the Orient Express: Illustrated Edition looks pretty amazing too.


1 comment

  1. Hello Corinna ,

    Wow , What a Beautiful Collection.
    I am Addicted to Books too.
    I am searching around for Hardbound Volumes of Agatha Christie.
    I found some on Amazon.
    A lot of them are expensive n not available.

    I have a 40 year old Collection of Books.


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