Agatha, Eggs, and Book Hounds

June 14, 2012 at 9:38 pm (Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , , , )

In my pursuit to read all things Agatha Christie, I have been reading through her entire Crime Collection.  It’s a 23 month program that I set up for myself.  I love reading things in lists this way, but the only draw back is in getting an awful lot of Christie at once.  In doing that, I found one I didn’t care for a lot faster than I would otherwise.  Three Act Tragedy just didn’t do it for me.  It wasn’t as exciting, it wasn’t a page-turner.  I’m not sure if its my mood, if this one just isn’t my style, or if its Egg.  Yes, I have a problem with Egg, and in a bit of stream of consciousness, I will tell you why.

I’m not sure if I don’t like her character or if I’m just hung up on her name.  I just know for certain that I can’t go along with the idea of naming a character Egg.  It really bothers me.  The only remotely forgivable occasion is in True Blood, where there is a rather tall gentleman by the name of Eggs.  1. He’s a dude.  2. There’s an ‘S’ which gives me the impression that maybe its supposed to be his last name. 3. You can call anyone almost anything in the South, but Europeans should be a little more respectable in my opinion.  I can say that, I’m from Texas.

I read “Egg” and am immediately filled with images and smells:

* green lights, The Great Gatsby, and eggs for neighborhoods

* lots of colors, Easter egg hunts, odors from the yard due to un-found treasures (yuck)

* yummy smells, too…. breakfast. omelette.  Hobo omelette are the best.

* the feel of a cold egg cracking under my fingertips, I like the sound of the crack too

Good or bad, none of these sounds, smells, and recollections should be brought to mind from a charismatic female character in a murder mystery.  How funny, too, that she even says “That is a bit catastrophic. To go through life as a Mugg -” in reference to another’s name.  Whereas I think, more catastrophic than to be called “Egg”?  While pondering this, Sir Charles interrupts my thoughts with some chatter about the murder and then says, “Oh, damn, why do I beat around the bush?” At that, my middle school humor kicks in and I begin to giggle as Egg is being spoken to by a man who used the word ‘beat.’  I immediately feel the need to make a Quiche, or a cheesecake, rather than solve a murder.  Although Poirot is the best sleuth around and it is said that he has an egg-shaped head.

Oh Hercule Poirot! “That man! Is he back in England?” “Yes.” “Why has he come back?” “Why does a dog go hunting?” – 3rd Act, Part 10

Although, naming a character Sir Bartholemew Strange nearly makes up for this little irritation about the Egg.  In fact, it would be a great name for a dog.  I would call him Bartie for short, and I think perhaps he should be a hound of some kind.  I have a beagle named Geoffrey Chaucer, perhaps Bartie could be the Walker Hound of my future.  I’d love to have a Jack Russell named Agatha.  Mmmm, no, not a Jack Russell.  I’d like Agatha to be a Fox Hound…

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To Eden Phillpotts

April 15, 2012 at 7:05 pm (Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , )

Agatha Christie opened her novel Peril at End House with a dedication:

To Eden Phillpotts

to whom I shall always be grateful for

his friendship and the encouragement

he gave me many years ago

Immediately, I was intrigued.

Eden Phillpotts

Eden Phillpotts was an English author, poet, and dramatist born in 1862 in India.  He lived near the Christie household when Agatha was young and still unpublished.  She visited him reguarlary under the advisement of her mother, so he could mentor her and guide her writing into a lifelong career.  Phillpotts was the first professional writer to read any of Agatha’s unpublished pieces.

A letter survives of some of the advice he had to bestow on the young budding writer:

“You have a great feeling for dialogue… You should stick to gay, natural dialogue.  Try and cut all the moralizations out of your novels; you are much too fond of them and nothing is more boring to read.  Try and leave your characters alone, so that they can speak for themselves, instead of always rushing in to tell them what they ought to say, or to explain to the reader what they mean by what they are saying.  That is for the reader to judge for himself.” ( www.poirot.us )

Phillpotts’ family moved from India when he was three years old.  At seventeen, he worked as a clerk for an insurance company, where he fell in love with theatre and decided to become an actor.  When he realized acting wasn’t for him, he pursued a career in writing instead.  So young when he began, its no wonder he enjoyed encouraging another young talent when he saw one.   Phillpotts’ own first publication was his poem “The Witches Cauldron” which kicked off a slew of published articles, reviews, short stories, plays, and novels.  Later, he was know to also write under the name Harrington Hext.

Phillpotts was known to befriend many of history’s greats: Arthur Conan Doyal, Henry James, George Bernard Shaw, Arnold Bennett, Jerome K. Jerome, and obviously Agatha Christie.  As a sign of both friendship and his faith in Christie’s writing ability, Phillpotts introduced Christie to his agent at Hughes Massie.  The dedicated novel Peril at End House was the seventh in the Hercule Poirot series, published in 1932.  Its nice to know that she fit in a dedication to a friend and advisor long before his death in 1960, many times friends are not so lucky to appreciate each other prior to memorial memos.

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Spring on Some Christie

April 2, 2012 at 12:47 am (Reviews) (, , , , , , , , )

Gone are the cold evenings bundled by the fireside with our hot tea, cozy blankets, and Agatha Christie books.  Now, its Spring in Texas, so our evenings involve a crap ton of humidity, cold sweet tea, and holding whatever Christie novel I’m in the middle of in front of an open window while praying for a breeze.  Still, even though the mood has changed, there’s something so comforting in the consistency of reading through such a large series.  Cold days, warm days, happy days, sad days, it doesn’t matter – I know I will close the night with a few chapters of Hercule Poirot, pompous egg-shaped head and all, coming to the rescue with the truth.

So much of my reading in my life has been seasonal.  I always save Sherlock Holmes for the winter months.  Anne of Green Gables owned my summers as a child.  Some things just move me as stories that should be read at certain times of the year, let the story meld with an existing environment to provide the perfect mood.  I even set my Scentsy warmers to scents that will match!  So you can guess my hesitation sitting down with Hercule Poirot as the weather got warm, now that I’ve snuggled up with him all winter.

Yet, March blessed me with The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, The Big Four, and The Mystery of the Blue Train.  Roger Ackroyd was shocking and wonderful, The Big Four surprisingly huge in its worldwide grandeur, and The Mystery of the Blue Train cozy in its step back into the traditional Poirot pace.  The weather didn’t take away from any of these stories, Christie gets you into the story so efficiently, so effectively, you can’t be distracted by the outside world; afterall, Poirot has a mystery to walk you through, a mystery only he is equipped to solve.  I can’t wait to see what is in store for our household with the titles coming up in April and the rest of the year.

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Continuing Adventures With Papa Poirot

March 4, 2012 at 7:22 pm (Reviews) (, , , , , , )

Title: The Murder of Roger Ackroyd

Author: Agatha Christie

Genre: Mystery

Length: 194 pages

Buy a Copy

I do believe that The Murder of Roger Ackroyd is my favorite Christie yet, despite the departure fromHastings.  The whole scenario is nothing short of clever, and Christie should be praised for the fun little twist of an idea.  Of course, I won’t share that idea here, because that would spoil all the fun for fresh readers.

Just go into it knowing you will discover not just the necessary murder, but secret marriages, bastard children, private meetings after dark, moving furniture, missing money, and a curious puzzle involving the color of one’s boots.

Poirot is his usual, spunky and immodest self, proclaiming, “What one does not tell to Papa Poirot he finds out.”  Indeed, M. Poirot, indeed, and here you’ve done it again.  I love that little man!

For those new to my blog, I am reading through Christie’s Crime Collection in 23-24 months, starting this most recent January/ February with the intention of finishing the 23rd volume (there are three books per volume in my collection) sometime in November/December of 2013.  Feel free to join me: http://www.shelfari.com/groups/79392/discussions/418226/Agatha-Christie

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Hercule Poirot, mon ami

February 12, 2012 at 1:16 am (Reviews) (, , , , , , , , )

Welcome back to my blog, Mes Amis! I have finished yet another book in the Hercule Poirot series, and just as she has done in the rest, Christie has brought a small smile to my face.

Hercule Poirot by Ceska Soda

Poirot Investigates has a bit of a different structure than the previous Poirot books.  In this one, Captain Hastings narrates multiple mysteries in a series of short stories, rather than following one in a full length novel.  Ironically, the format of Poirot Investigates would have lent itself to easier read aloud evenings by the fire, but I got greedy and read it all by myself!

As with every detective hero, Poirot manages to be cleverer and more astute than everyone with whom he comes in contact.  He sees every clue and teases us with it, not telling us what it means until the end.  He manages to be both exasperating and adorable, Hastings (and the reader) often want to wring his neck and simultaneously shake his hand while he lectures his younger ally on the use of his “little grey cells” in his brain.  In the finale of one adventure,Hastings exclaims: “Poirot was right. He always is, confound him!”

I think my favorite thing about him is how often he toots his own horn.  He has no sense of modesty and is constantly talking of himself in the third person, proclaiming his greatness and intelligence.  When not speaking in the third person about how happy people will be to see the arrival of the “The Great Hercule Poirot” he’s is busy saying things like:

“I, who have undoubtedly the finest brain in Europe at present, can afford to be magnanimous!”

One would call him pompous, but with his short, round stature and that twinkle in his green eyes, how can you hate him? In fact, if he were real, I’d hope that he would call me ‘mon ami.’

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Christie the Queen of Mystery

January 7, 2012 at 3:01 am (Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Title: Mysterious Affair at Styles

Author: Agatha Christie

Buy Now!

Join Hercule Poirot in Christie’s classic whodunit series, starting with the first!  The lady of the house of Styles is poisoned and it’s up to Poirot and the narrator to uncover the culprit.

I’m sure you’ve heard that Christie is the mother of all mystery, and after reading my second Christie mystery ever, I must say I understand where that idea comes from.  I was reading another blog today (http://resolution52.com/adventures-in-resolution52) and the writers really summed my thoughts on Agatha Christie and the mystery world up well when they wrote:

 Agatha does it better – but, without Doyle, she probably wouldn’t have done it at all.

You can feel the cornerstone in the structure politely put in place by Doyle’s existence as a writer, but despite my deep love for Sherlock Holmes, you can tell Christie really mastered the whodunit art.

I’m on a mission to read all of Agatha Christie’s crime collection and starting at the beginning did not disappoint.  Christie’s cozy mysteries make for pleasant little “FridayReads” (if you’re a twitter follower you know how much I love those) and I look forward to continue my year with Poirot!  And soon after following with Miss Marple and the rest.

The goal is to finish the entire crime collection in 23 months, starting now.  I’ll be reading three titles a month, so feel free to join me for some or all: http://www.shelfari.com/groups/79392/discussions/418226/Agatha-Christie

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