Archives de Tag: Agatha Christie

Agatha Christie ‘An Autobiography’

Memory is a mystery. Life seems to recollect in consistency. The high points of her life being stored with descriptions of places she’s loved, seasons, lessons learned and lessons valued. This isn’t a book, it is handiwork. Agatha Christie knows crewel. She has written a lifetime from a tapestry of relationship in this, her autobiography.

In this book, it’s not what she says, it’s what she doesn’t say. If you read her novels, you will know who she is, she writes-in her characters. In her familial cast, her brother Monty plays the villain, (p. 323/324), « I thought that Monty ill would be just as difficult as Monty well. People’s natures don’t change. » Other members of the cast: various nurses and nannies, a philosophy of doctors, the oftentimes overbearing stranger providing the occasional literary concept or phrase. She herself even provides the role of the dispensary nurse, protecting ill-advised patients from the arrogance of professional ineptitude.

She gives us glimpses of who she is in small doses. Her favorites:

mauve
archaeology (and a passion for understanding why people are drawn to visualize death)
cream
garden parties
books
stage plays

She is the product of an age. She is gentle, she is delicate, she is Victorian.

She teaches, and learns. She discovers a moral to discouragement, and reminisces upon her childhood. In acceptance of circumstances, (p. 172), she was brought up to discover a moral, « … you are never too old to learn… Be attentive, there may be a new point of view being shown you, unexpectedly. »

She discusses her feelings toward innocence (p. 440), liberally, as an ointment to society’s ignorance. She concludes that this genre of writing has a passion, that passion being to help save innocence, « because it is innocence that matters, not guilt. » She prays for the loss and the lost in hopes of societal repair.

This book spans 20 years of writing, the final chapter written in 1965 (after a twenty year intermission from the previous chapter). She writes beginning from her first memories as a precocious baby girl, through her Victorian-inspired education, two wars, more houses than she would describe, the unearthing of various discoveries and important historical artifacts on numerous archaeological sites, and global travel in an age of romantic expedition, (p. 221), flight is disillusionment, but « ships can still be romantic… and what can beat a train? To travel by train is to see nature and human beings, towns and churches, and rivers – in fact, to see life. » She is expressive.

Her zest for life, her writer’s grace… she was the inspired ideal, the Lady Agatha, a queen of mystery.

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The Mysterious Affair at Styles – Agatha Christie

The first of her books to include the character of Hercule Poirot, this one is written according to a point of view removed from the investigator, and is reminiscent of ‘Dr. Watson’ from the beginning of the work. Poirot’s introduction is delayed slightly, and the first chapter is eerily constructed. She writes detached from this subject, (p. 43), with « … an emotional lack in the atmosphere. » This character, Hastings, is timid in his portrayal of the story. Hercule is no writer, apparently, ‘mon ami’ – his friend, the story’s author, writes an account of this tale at the request of all involved. Mrs. Christie invests these, her primary subjects, with everything they need to know.

Riddles, proverbial twists, macabre wordplay, this book invokes suspicious execution of words. I thus discovered my supposition: The game is a-foot; or, is the dis-membered in contest? Her will is the matter…

Mrs. Christie is the Queen of mental-lists. As such, I offer my kind acknowledgment to ‘bullets’ of insight. All of this mystery’s symbolic participants are present:

  • the embodiment of science (Dr. Bauerstein)
  • the reporter/journalist, keeping the paparazzi at bay (Hastings)
  • the appearance of mortal doom (Nibs), and the weapon of destruction (Cynthia, as dispensary steward)
  • due process, and affability in the face of crises (Poirot)
  • guilt in absentia (the absent widower)
  • accusation/accusal (Dr. Wilkins)
  • all of the herrings in various hues (Chapter 1, the laying out of involvement)
  • the kindred for want of livelihood (Dorcas, and to a lesser degree, Annie)
  • the prospect (Mrs. Cavendish)
  • the absence of family, the heirs apparent (John, and to a lesser extent, Lawrence)
  • the proceeding (Mr. Wells)
  • the love/friendship which has gone unnoticed, in short, the bereavement borne of neglect (Evie Howard)

Mrs. Christie is abundantly equipped to style her writing with grisly detail. In fact, at times she can be morbidly perverse, as on (p.35), in her depiction of the ‘body’s’ tumultuous ending, which leaves me too cold to re-visit this passage.

She teaches with each work. Each book containing elements of concern for life and lives lived. Always she provides a life lesson, she gives an offering of observance to time, she invests a point of view for dealing with some unfortunate incident, and always she gives answers which create the soul’s composure. Fear is not recognized, deference to the departed is an essential quality in her works.

She enlightens readership with context. Pay attention, in this story, everything you need to know is right here in these two characters. Poirot’s method, recognize what’s important; nothing else exists. There is nothing trivial; everything matters, but not everything is important. He is Belgian, he is cordial, he embellishes. Poirot speaks in proverbs, (p. 89), « Imagination is a good servant, and a bad master. The simplest explanation is always the most likely. » While Hastings, the writer, deals with questions through deduction, (p. 37), « … a flock of wild surmises in my mind. »

Her books captivate playful pretense. She has elements within each she writes. In all there is a lesson; in each there is a day, just one day to divine. And, she is the fair and precious purveyor of loss, that we should accept misfortune is her careful assumption. Style is her gift, it is the reader’s ability.

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