Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Happy Birthday, Dame Christie

The first Agatha Christie book I ever read was the last of her books to be published- Sleeping Murder. I have no idea when I read it, but I do know for a fact that I read it long before I even knew the name Agatha Christie. And the only reason I know I read the book is because when I read it for the 'first time', I kept experiencing a sense of deja vous not unlike those experienced by Gwenda throughout the book. If I hadn't read the book before, I would have had to have written it in a past life, and since I was born before she died, reincarnation could not be the answer either.

Perhaps it was fitting that the first of Dame Christie's books that I read was one with Miss Marple, because she is my favourite detective of all times. You had to admire the intellect of a Sherlock Holmes or a Hercule Poirot, but it was hard to love them. Miss Marple, on the other hand, was entirely loveable. Though the image I most treasure is of her in fluffy pink declaring she is Nemesis, the fact is that it is hard not to like her (unless you are guilty of something, anything). Strong moral code, heightened sense of justice and perfect understanding of human nature- she's anyone's favourite grandma, except she wasn't even one.

In fact, I love all Dame Christie's female detectives - Lady Eileen 'Bundle' Brent, Ariadne Oliver, Tuppence Beresford- three very different personalities, but each loveable in their own way. The one thing they all have in common is that they are all normal human beings with normal foibles and failings, but all concerned with basic human justice. And it is for that reason that I find it hard to get upset at Agatha Christie when she makes her slightly demeaning comments on Indians and foreigners. Dame Christie was concerned with justice, and I can forgive a person like her almost anything.

Today is the 120th Anniversary of Agatha Christie's birth. Thank you, Dame Christie for all the hours of reading pleasure you have given me.


Cruella Collett said...

Happy Birthday, Agatha! I haven't actually read all that many of her books (alright, maybe I've read about ten, but in Agatha Christie terms, that isn't a lot), but I love the BBC adaptions. There, at least, I love Poirot (though Miss Marple is a close number two).

Laura Eno said...

It's odd but I've never read one of her books. I'll have to correct that oversight. :)

ViolaNut said...

I've been working my way through Laura Thompson's biography of Agatha Christie this week in honour of her birthday - some pretty fascinating stuff. And YES, absolutely Miss Jane Marple with her fluffy pink knitting declaring herself Nemesis - totally iconic image, right there.

PS Joan Hickson is the BEST Marple. Really. Trust me. ;-)

Holly Ruggiero, Southpaw said...

HB AC! I read Murder on the Orient Express this summer.

Helen Ginger said...

Happy Birthday Agatha! And thank you Rayna for reminding us of her birth and talent.

Clarissa Draper said...

I've loved all the books she wrote (I think I've read them all) and she died the year I was born. That's really sad.


Jules said...

Kudo's Rayna! I love the Dame.
Jules @ Trying To Get Over The Rainbow

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Then happy birthday Agatha!

Tina said...

Hmm..I'm embarrassed to say I've only read one of hers...must rectify. Lovely tribute, Rayna.

Jemi Fraser said...

I love Agatha Christie! I think I read each and every one of her books in my early teen years. If I have a grade 8 class I read And Then There Were None - they love it!

Vicki Rocho said...

Would you believe I've never read an Agatha Christie novel? I'm not sure how that happened, really, I just never got around to it...suppose I ought to at least give one a try, huh?

Rayna M. Iyer said...

@ Mari - ten books isn't really a lot. I am sure you will love Miss Marple, once you get to know her better. And the last time I read Bundle Brent, she reminded me of you.

@ Laura- time to correct that. Try Miss Marple's short stories. I am sure you will really like them.

@ ViolaNut- that is iconic, isn't it? I am almost tempted to make myself something pink and fluffy in her honour

@ Holly- that is one hell of a book!

@ Helen- Margot never lets me forget :-)

@ Clarissa- that makes you younger than me, Missy Clarissa! And is your name taken from her's?

@ Jules- she is the best.

@ Alex- :-)

@ Tina- I am pretty sure you will like most of the Miss Marples.

@ Jemi- I too read almost all of them in my teens, and have done a couple of re-reads since.

@ Vicki- give it a try- whether you like it or not, you should read at least one. A couple of her's are not even mysteries- they are otherworld novels.

slommler said...

She has given me many hours of pleasure reading her books.

Rayna M. Iyer said...

@ SueAnn- she is fantastic, is she not?

Faith Pray said...

Rayna, I'm a huge Christie fan. I've read and re-read nearly all of her books. I would have loved to meet her and watch her at work.
But I, too, am very bothered by her demeaning comments towards other races. I've found similar comments and descriptions by other English authors from that era. Despite the uncomfortable comments, Christie seems fairly all-encompassing in her acceptance of other nationalities, though.

Rayna M. Iyer said...

@ Faith- there was a time when it used to bother me too, but I have now come to realise that she was a product of her age, and to expect us to conform to our way of thinking is asking for too much.
And even when she was making demeaning comments, she was still kind to the people.

Ann said...

Hi Raynna - thanks for visiting over at My Villa Life - yes my five year old wants to be six and my two year old wants to be a 'big boy'- Some things are the same the world over!

I also love Agatha - have read dozens of her books and started when I was ten - rather ghoulish for a child but I'd like to think I'm well balanced despite it!

Rayna M. Iyer said...

@ Ann - kids are all the same, aren't they? And Dame Christie was the best.


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