Presented in this collection are: the man found dying in the church sanctuary; the puzzle of Uncle Henry's hidden legacy; the question of the murder with the tape-measure; the curious conduct of the caretaker; the case of Miss Skinner's maid and the baffling mystery of the stabbing of Mrs Rhodes.
Well after maybe a 35 year hiatus between my last reading of the venerable Dame of Crime Fiction, I thought it was time to head back down to St Mary Mead and see what all the fuss was about.
The easiest option for me was to have a crack at a few of her Miss Marple short stories and having picked up this charity shop bargain for the humungous sum of 25p when out and about with my wife and youngest daughter on Monday, I decided to bump the dame off.......sorry, bump her up the queue and get started.
6 stories – 142 pages – 2-3 hours reading time.
Well I can add another female author to the tally and possibly can tick a box on my silver bingo card for my Vintage Mystery challenge, I will check later. Two bonus plusses.
Verdict......well I didn't manage to guess the culprit or guilty party or unravel the mystery in any of the tales before the big reveal, so that was good. And AC can certainly paint a vivid picture for you of her characters; in this particular instance a bed-bound spinster.........with a good deal of greyish-yellow hair untidily wound around her head and erupting into curls, the whole thing looked like a bird’s nest of which no self-respecting bird could be proud. So another tick there. Thirdly, most of the stories engaged me and had me speeding along to the end, so I can’t in all honesty feign indifference.
I think what struck me was how unsympathetic most of her victims and villains all appeared to be. In the case of the hidden legacy, I didn't like old Uncle Henry’s beneficiaries and was half hoping that Miss Marple was unable (or perhaps more entertainingly) unwilling to solve the riddle and therefore deprive the horrible, vile rats of their inheritance. I guess Marple though couldn't possibly dare to fail. There’s something a little bit unappealing to me about someone who has to be shown to be the cleverest person in the room, all the time. She might just be a little too smug and self-satisfied for me to tolerate too much of her. Time will tell; maybe a longer exposure to our elderly spinster’s charms will seduce me and have me swooning helplessly in admiration? The 4.50 from Paddington may seal the deal! I’m prepared to be wooed.
Last observation, I’m unsure when these were originally written – this collection was originally published in 1979, but there are probably too many servants and mistresses, or gentry-types and underlings for me to want to spend too much time in their company. A bit too dated, a bit too Upstairs-Downstairs, a bit too class conscious and a bit too genteel for me. Each to their own, but I will probably not read too many of her other books.
Anyway I must dash......tea and scone time in the drawing room, nanny’s just rung the bell.......... yummy – so toodle pips!
3 from 5
I bought my copy second-hand recently.
I wonder where these stories came from too (magazines?) - I really like the other early Miss Marple anthology The Thirteen Problems, so I should check these out. You're right tho' - one can get a bit tired of always being right!ReplyDelete
Vicki, you must be exhausted! Ha ha.ReplyDelete
I just looked these up and most of the stories originally appeared in The Strand magazine in the 40's and two of them in Woman's Journal in the 50's. Apparently my version isn't the complete item as the anthology was originally published with 8 in total. Still 6 will do for me, for now.
I will be reading Roger Ackroyd (Poirot) at some point - not sure which of the two I will like better - or maybe dislike least! We'll see,
I enjoy the short stories as a diversion, but you do need to read one of the novels.... I know that's the kind of annoying thing people say, when you finally read part of a series (or watch an epi of a TV prog) they say 'oh yes but that wasn't a typical one...' 4.50 from Paddington might be a better test. Murder at the Vicarage and Body in the Library both good.ReplyDelete
Moira - thanks. You're no doubt right, (are all my commentators always right?) a novel will give a better portrait of Marple and Christie.Delete
It was a more enjoyable 3 than the Livers 3, so I haven't been put off. I will see how I go with the longer form, but without pre-judging it I don't think I'll be rushing to get the other 80-odd books I don't have.
Col - So pleased to see that you've read some Agatha Christie. I'm glad you enjoyed what you read. I do agree with Moira though that you'l get a better sense of both Miss Marple and Christie if you read one of the novels. My suggestion would be 4:50 From Paddington, but that's just my opinion. Whichever you choose, I hope you'll enjoy it .ReplyDelete
Margot - well I got there in the end after threatening to for a year or so. I'll try and squeeze 4.50 in at some point. The jury's still out then!Delete
I have to shake my head at you, Col. I was excited to see you read Agatha Christie and then read further and see you read her.....collection of short stories. What Margot said. READ 4:50 to Paddington or any of her more popular NOVELS please sir. Thank You. However, I must admit that I have this strange feeling that you might not like her books. Especially after reading where you said she was too class conscious and the stories were too dated.ReplyDelete
Keishon - part of me wishes I hadn't bothered (I'm kidding!) - I keep getting slapped down for reading short stories - I'm off to the naughty boy step and will only come out after reading 4.50 FROM BLOODY PADDINGTON!Delete
Watch this space then!
LOL, Col and duly noted then. Don't let my giving you grief go to heart. I'm just playing with you. You are free to read whatever you like and I enjoy visiting with you here and am curious in your reading material. But remember. *stern voice* I got my eye on you for making sure you reach your 50% goal of reading female writers this year *grin*Delete
No problem with any of the above.........until, I got to the 50% bit.......aaaargh......I thought I had my goal set at 20-25% tops! I'll see what I can do, but I think you're definitely messing with me. I should have known better than to take you on!Delete
I think I will stop before people start taking this exchange way too seriously. I think 25% for your goal of reading female writers is a good one. I'm just as bad and need to do better as well. I'll talk with you later.Delete
I have to agree with Moira, it is only fair to try some of the novels. There is so much variety in her writing. Crooked House is good. But, if you don't like that type of thing, you just don't. Not a problem.ReplyDelete
Ok - outvoted 4 to 1, only Vicki gives me a pass, unless she comes back to chip in!Delete
Col, I haven't read Miss Marple as much as I have read Poirot. I'm hoping to return to Agatha Christie this year and polish off a few of her novels in their order of publication.ReplyDelete
I hope to read at least one Poirot and one Marple full length book. Probably won't go much further than that, I don't think. Look forward to some AC reviews from you!Delete