So, thanks to the power of Instagram I discovered the account @maidensofmurder – an Agatha Christie book club! Oh my, the excitement! This is simply my idea of a perfect account – it includes pictures of beautiful Agatha Christie novels, and encourages people to read them for a discussion. Ideal!
So the month of discovery could not be more exciting for me because June’s title is ‘Evil Under the Sun’. This is a novel that, I am ashamed to admit, I have never read, but it is a story I have adored since first seeing the Peter Ustinov film version. With great excitement I have picked up this novel and enjoyed every single page of it. I always feel that I can not give Agatha Christie novels the review that they deserve. They are such a classic in the crime fiction world with so many fans that the pressure on a bookblogger is intense.
However, I am going to offer my humble opinion of ‘Evil Under the Sun’ – it is a classic. For me, it contains everything that makes Agatha Christie the Queen of Crime. I have always been a little more Team Poirot and there immediately, is why I love this, because it is one of his many adventures (although I miss Hastings, but he does make an appearance in the much loved ITV version). Along with that, it has a cast of colourful characters with all sorts of backgrounds and dark secrets – who offer a few red herrings. And, of course, a murder that seems to not have a solution until Poirot and his little grey cells become involved. However, you would think Poirot deserves a holiday some time.
I was also pleased that the Ustinov version was not too far from the original story. Now, maybe, I need to seek it out for yet another viewing.
As, I am sure you have realised, I am really rather a fan of an RSC production. This weekend, we popped along to see The Duchess of Malfi. This was the choice of my Mum and was a play that I knew nothing about. I knew it was a play from a similar era and it was to be a revenge tragedy, but that was as far as my awareness went.
Well, wow, it was definitely a revenge tragedy – the level and symbolism of blood made ‘Titus’ look like ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’. I have not been to a play before where the front row is given blankets in case the blood splashes.
Anyway, back to the play (rather than the blood). The Duchess of Malfi’s two scheming brothers certainly have their eyes on her land and fortune. However, as a strong, independent woman, she makes some choices of her own which do not sit comfortably with the plans of the brothers. As things follow the path as it unfolds, the Duchess makes some decisions to save herself and those she loves from the corruption of society. As the term ‘tragedy’ suggests, it is not a happy ending for all involved.
I do not like to reveal spoilers because, despite it being an old and famous play, each production is different and special.
So, instead, I will comment that the acting was superb by all the cast. Particularly both Joan Iyiola as the Duchess and Chris New as the Cardinal. You fully believed each of the characters they were portraying. And, let’s be honest, we all love a good villain, which the Cardinal embodied perfectly.
I am not sure I need to see quite such a tragedy again but it was certainly memorable and has introduced me to a play that I may not have known otherwise.
I was lucky enough to win a fabulous little book giveaway from Chelley of Tales of Yesterday. ‘Seed’ was the first of the novels I decided to read. I went into this book blind; I had no idea what to expect, I did not even read the blurb as I decided I just wanted to jump straight in and give this novel a go.
I will admit, I was surprised by the setting – it does not spoil it to mention that it is set among a cult – and therefore it does go on to tackle all the issues that come with such a life. It also skillfully weaves in an ongoing mystery for our heroine Pearl – who is she really? It is a fascinating study of human nature and could encourage us to contemplate that ever-present question – nature versus nurture. The characters with different backgrounds certainly have very different perspectives of the lives that are led inside ‘Seed’ and on the ‘Outside’. The strength that comes with knowledge could be the only thing that could cause Papa S’ kingdom to fall.
I have to admit that, at odd moments, the novel could be a little uncomfortable to read. There is a simple suggestion made about the experiences of those young people of ‘Seed’, but this does not take away from the desire to find out hoe the book will conclude. You certainly do become invested in some of the characters and develop a thorough dislike for others, which also encourages you keep reading.
I am glad to have discovered the work of Lisa Heathfield and I look forward to seeing where the other novels take me.
Have you ever been surprised by the setting of a novel?
I always wonder if it is worth posting about my latest Agatha Christie read because, well, they are not new titles and so many of you may have read them and not really be interested in my thoughts. However, when I explore that world out there I realise how many of us love Agatha Christie’s work and the character of Poirot.
I was keen to pick up a Poirot after reading ‘Poirot and Me’ by David Suchet. I picked ‘Death in the Clouds’ because it is one that I haven’t read but remember fondly from the ITV series. Although, it makes me sad when Hastings is not on the scene, you can always rely on Inspector Japp to lighten the mood and he does that delightfully in this book.
The joy of this story is that the crime takes place on a plane and nobody notices. Additionally, the investigation takes our hero between Britain and France – it is indeed a very continental investigation. There are, of course, all the other magic ingredients of a good murder mystery: eccentric characters, scandal, secrets and the big Poirot reveal.
This is not my favourite Poirot story but I still enjoyed every single page because there is something incredibly engaging about the words of Agatha Christie.
Last week, I also listened to ‘Death on the Nile’ on Radio 4 Extra and discovered ‘Maidens of Murder’ on Instagram. All of this together simply means that there is even more love of Agatha Christie in my life, and made me realise that if I want to share my thoughts why the heck not, because so many of us love Poirot.
BrummyMummyof2 was one of the first bloggers I discovered when I was considering joining the blogging world. And, through following her many adventures (not at all jealous of the recent Disney adventure) I discovered her story of becoming friends with Louise Pentland, thanks to the world of social media. This encouraged me to pick up ‘Wilde Like Me’, the first novel by Louise Pentland, and it is a Sunday Times bestseller, don’t you know.
Although, I don’t really believe in narrowing books down to gender – this is a book for the ladies. Lousie Pentland has created a character, Robin Wilde, who is real. She has the same fears and worries as we all do and, as she learns some life lessons along the way, they are certainly the lessons we have or need to learn. I was a little concerned to begin with that the tale would suggest that us women need a man to be happy, but as the plot unfolds Robin confirms that this is not the case; in fact it could be considered a bonus once you have found your happiness.
I enjoyed the clear cultural references which reminded me of growing up – my personal favourite was the reference to Silly Putty.
The best past of this novel is the fact that the story, as with the characters, is real. OK – we may not all fly off to New York (no spoiler – a statement of fact), but a lot of the day-to-day action is bound to have happened to you or a friend (Easter bonnets is all I am saying). It feels as though Louise Pentland has put her heart and soul into this novel and you certainly feel that it has her humour on every page.
It will be interesting to see how Robin Wilde’s story unfolds, but I hope it keeps its relatable nature because I think readers will find her a friend, not a fictional character.