Thursday, 9 February 2017

Agatha Christie

After visiting Agatha's Devon house last year and wandering through the rooms and artifacts, I decided to buy her autobiography and a couple of her books. Proudly stamped by the National Trust "bought at Greenaway."

I was surprised at her life, she was very priviledged but didn't really take it on.  She was eccentric, preferred to drink cream instead of tea. Knowledgeable about life in a way you would not expect from a lady of her age.

But then we all get old. She said she wished she'd made Poirot younger as she was still writing mysteries for him when he got to be 110!!   She had a good sense of humour, was adventurous, and was crossed in love.  

When her first husband left her he came into her office in a heat and pacing about the room said "This just won't do Agatha, I have to have a divorce." Then thundered out to his girlfriend, his secretary whom Agatha had befriended, waiting in the car.  She sat at her desk dumbstruck. "I was writing cheques to pay my bills," she wrote, "and I couldn't remember my name to sign it on the cheque."

This is her bedroom, the camp bed belongs to her second husband Max Mallowan. He was an archeologist, and got so used to sleeping in this camp bed, sometimes he would sleep in it when he was at home. He was 15 years younger than Agatha, something I have in common with her, my husband and my age difference is exactly the same.

I have some recordings of her, in old age, the voice speaking is cultured, wobbly, of it's time.
She couldn't cook but loved food, but was also offended when Max volunteered her to sit on cases to get them closed at the end of an expedition!

The more I read and learn about her work, the more surprised I am about how modern she was. She loved clothes, and her wardrobe is still intact.

She loved silk, bright colours, furs, she started her adult life as an Edwardian teenager and  by the time she died in 1976 she seen fashions change from uptight corsets through to the looser dresses of the Roaring Twenties, the elegant 30s, Wartime austerity in the 40s right up to the Swinging Sixties and mini skirts.

While I was writing the other day I remembered one of her tips for writing a good book.  Not so many red herrings that the reader gets confused.  She was a member of a Crime Writers Society, and strict rules were laid down on the construction of murder mystery novels. Agatha broke every one of them and was a best seller.

I hope she has an etherial smile at my efforts when it comes out in a couple of months.
Fingers crossed.


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