Let me admit at the outset that I am not a play reader, although I do love to go to live theater, and it is a lifelong dream of mine to see The Mousetrap performed, preferably in London. It's also important to note that Death on the Nile is one of my favorite of Christie's mysteries - the setting is wonderful, the characters are well-drawn, and the solution is satisfying even if there are rather too many side-plots going on in the book.
I will talk further about all of those elements next month, because Themis, BrokenTune and I (and anyone else who would like to join us) are going to do an Agathytes buddy reread of this delightful mystery around the middle of May.
For now, though, I will confine my remarks to this play. My edition was published by Samuel French, and was ordered from Amazon. Along with the script, it contains a character list, a stage schematic, a Furniture and Property Plot and a Lighting Plot. The Furniture and Property Plot was actually fairly interesting, and the Lighting Plot went right over my head.
I have never seen this play performed, although when I was googling about, I found information that a local theater actually performed it a couple of years ago, which left me quite bitter. If I had known it was being staged, I absolutely would've gotten tickets for it.
However, reading the script did make one of the primary complaints that I've read about this play quite clear to me. There is absolutely no real connection to the setting here. Egypt is mentioned, the Nile is referenced, but this is a play that occurs primarily in a single room - the observation saloon on a paddle steamer nominally travelling down the Nile. It could, however, have happened anywhere, including on the Thames.
I honestly don't know how to stage this play to take advantage of the Egyptian setting, but, then again, I'm not a playwright. It certainly seems, as well, that Agatha Christie - who was the playwright - also didn't really know how to do this, as throwing in a couple of random beadsellers at the very beginning of the play, during what is meant to be the embarkation process, seems to be the extent of her efforts. Weak.
The stripped down nature of the play, as well, means that we don't really get a lot of character development. Because I've had the advantage of reading the original text, and having seen the Poirot adaptation, I attributed much of the character depth from other sources to these characters. Someone just seeing the play, I'm afraid, wouldn't have the benefit of that depth and would likely feel that the play itself left a lot to be desired in terms of character development. Kay, in particular, felt extremely thin. Perhaps actors who are also familiar with the source novel would be able to imbue the characters with the depth that they lack through their performances. I don't know.
Canon Pennefather takes the place of Poirot, which was actually fine for me. Poirot might have overwhelmed the production with his fussiness and his mannerisms anyway.
Notes for the Agathytes: As I've previously mentioned, Canon Pennefather "reappears" with a slight name change (Canon Pennyfather) in At Bertram's Hotel, approximately 20 years later. The characters are completely different in personality, however.
Kay is the name that Agatha Christie chose for Linnett Ridgeway in the play. I thought that was actually somewhat interesting, because Kay is also the name of the second wife, Kay Strange, in Towards Zero, a book that was published in 1944, which was also adapted as a play in 1956. The play was first performed that same year. There are some physical similarities between the two Kays. Agatha does like to recycle.
In terms of the endings, I'll talk about this more when we reread Death on the Nile, but there were some crucial differences between the ending of the play and the ending of the book.
All right, everyone, open thread for April buddy reads/readalongs/etc.
What I know so far:
Discworld is reading the 4th Discworld book, Mort, which is also the first in the "Death" subseries. The buddy read starts on April 1, and continues through the end of April, so you can jump in any time!
April 1: Done
BrokenTune, Lillelara and I are planning a buddy read of this collaborative novel by various authors of The Detection Club.
Themis-Athena and I are going to read Murder on the Nile, which is the stageplay adaptation of Death on the Nile. The play does not feature Hercule Poirot, rather it includes Canon Pennefather, who also appears in At Bertram's Hotel, which is a Marple mystery.
There are a few of us planning to read this multi-cultural historical romance by Beverly Jenkins this month.
The Agathytes are reading Crooked House
At the very end of the month, Tigus & I are going to read The Flemish Mystery by Georges Simenon. Chris' Fish Place had mentioned possibly joining us, and any other Maigret fans or new readers can feel free to jump in!
The framework of Death on the Nile is definitely there, but it feels very bare bones.
Canon Pennefather as he exists in this play seems to be a completely different character than the Canon Pennefather who is in 1965s At Bertram's Hotel, although he was approximately 20 years older the Marple novel versus this 1946 adaptation. He definitely takes the place of Poirot, even to having overheard the restaurant conversation between Simon & Jackie that occurred prior to Simon meeting Kay (Linnett).
I do love the fact that she brought over the metaphor that both Simon and Jackie use to describe Simon's falling for Kay (Jackie is the moon/Kay is the sun, which drowns out the moon with its brightness), as that was one of my favorite little clues from Death on the Nile.
Miss Ffoliot-ffoulks is an awful person.
There have been two donkeys mentioned so far: Whiskey and Soda and Whoopadaisy. Which one would you rather ride?
Just a placeholder update - I think that today is our day to read, Themis? My copy came from amazon a couple of weeks ago. I am going to slip it into my purse and spend some time with it over my lunch hour.
I checked on audible, but wasn't able to locate any sort of a radio play of this one. Are you aware of anything?
I am really interested in how this one works without Poirot.
Even knowing what's coming, this book is just delightful. This time around, I am loving Caroline so much - she is so funny. I also love it when Dr. Sheppard says:
"My dear Caroline," I said. "There's no doubt at all about what the man's profession has been. He's a retired hair dresser. Look at that moustache of his."
about Hercule Poirot.
And then that melancholy moment when Poirot thinks back to his dear friend Hastings:
“Also, I had a friend—a friend who for many years never left my side. Occasionally of an imbecility to make one afraid, nevertheless he was very dear to me. Figure to yourself that I miss even his stupidity. His naïveté, his honest outlook, the pleasure of delighting and surprising him by my superior gifts—all these I miss more than I can tell you.”
“He died?” I asked sympathetically.
“Not so. He lives and flourishes—but on the other side of the world. He is now in the Argentine.”
Even half-way around the world, poor Hastings lack of acumen is the topic of conversation with M. Poirot.
I have a big mystery week planned!
I'm going to finish Silverhill by Phyllis Whitney tomorrow, and I only have three stories left in Double Sin. From there, I will move onto a reread of The Murder of Roger Ackroyd (yay) and the buddy read of Murder on the Nile, which takes place on Tuesday.
I've also broken down and bought The Yellow Dog, which is the 6th Maigret, and - according to Tigus - is a good one! I am excited to read it. It should arrive tomorrow.
Last - but surely not least - is Cyanide and Compliments, which is the 5th in the Pollard and Toye series. This series is available through KU, and I've read the first 4 in a couple of weeks. They are silver age, first published in the 1960s, and are a lot of fun.
That's probably enough for a week, right? But if I make it through all of those, I'm going to read Going Wrong by Ruth Rendell, because I need a little psychological suspense in my life.
I'm making my way through some of Christie's short stories. This collection has a story called The Dressmaker's Doll, which I just finished and it is so different from her usual stuff! It's basically horror, and who knew that Christie wrote horror?
I've been looking forward to sinking into a Phyllis Whitney, and this one is showing a lot of promise, with a plucky, scarred heroine with an explicable fear of caged birds, and a family mansion full of secrets in New Hampshire.
I was pretty sure that were a few MacInnes titles that I hadn't read - the difficulty is that I read the bulk of her work so long ago that I can't be sure, unless it's a book that I've reread in the last few years.
I had convinced myself that I had read this one - the setting in Greece seemed like something that I would've read, given how appealing I find it. Now that I've finished it, I'm pretty sure that this was my first read.
Decision at Delphi is classic MacInnes - the stoically handsome and intensely capable man with a long-past military background who becomes embroiled in a modern plot by extremists to precipitate another conflict, the attractive young woman who is his love interest, who needs protecting but who is also generally brave and capable in her own right, and the Nazis, Communists, Fascists or various other extremists who need thwarting.
MacInnes is equal opportunity with her opprobrium, and I always admire the way that she doesn't pick a preference between extremists on the right and extremists on the left, making the valid point that if you go far enough to either end of the political spectrum, you meet in monstrosity.
Older espionage books are paced so differently from modern thrillers that they can seem to drag even when the author is carefully building characters and backstory. Decision at Delphi did have that effect on me - the pacing seemed quite slow until I reached the 75% mark, at which point the stakes were increased and the tension really ratcheted into high gear. Nonetheless, as is always the case with MacInnes, I enjoyed this piece of spy fiction and would give it high marks for the mechanics of the plot and the likeability of the characters. In addition, the relationship between Kenneth Strang and Cecilia Hillard felt more modern and equal than many of her relationships, which can feel very regressive and gendered.
Is anyone besides Tigus and I - a possibly Chris' Fish Place - up for a Maigret-a-thon in late April (like, all the way to the 26th)?
I am up for either of the identified books. I could also pretty much be persuaded to anything, especially books that are early in the series, so if there are other books that folks are interested in, discuss in the comments! I haven't purchased anything yet, and the whole series is available for my kindle (I think), so I can start anywhere. I know that Tigus already has both of these books, though, so that's a good place to start!
This will be my first foray into Maigret! Tigus has been putting up a lot of posts regarding his adventures with Simenon, and I'm really excited to dip into the series.
I'm not really doing Dewey today - but my husband just left to help out a friend, and my son is 19, so I won't see him for hours, and it is pouring this morning. I am therefore going to take this opportunity to hunker down with a cup of coffee, a quilt, and a book. I am with the readathoners in spirit if not entirely in practice!
1)What fine part of the world are you reading from today? Portland Metro area, Oregon
2) Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to? I don't really have a stack today, but I am looking forward to Silverhill by Phyllis Whitney, which is next up on my TBR.
3) Which snack are you most looking forward to? Again, no planned snacks today - but I will be taking my son to Starbucks once he gets up for his free birthday drink, and I might spring for a chocolate croissant!
4) Tell us a little something about yourself! I am drinking my coffee from a Minnie Mouse mug.
5) If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today? If this is your first read-a-thon, what are you most looking forward to? I generally only fully participate in the fall readathons for some reason. I am just going to read until I don't want to read anymore!
This collaborative mystery is not to be taken seriously. While I got quite a kick out of it, it's a good thing that the members of The Detection Club didn't really make a habit of this - there are a total of three of these collaborative mysteries, each with a different spin.
At the end of the day, this was really an over-complicated mess with a not particularly convincing solution. The Appendix does provide alternative solutions, with each author beyond Chapter 3 providing their own. Christie's made me laugh out loud, it was so perfectly Agatha Christie. The others were entertaining as well, albeit a bit long-winded.
I'm glad I read it, but once was enough. This isn't a book with significant rereading potential.
All right - I'm into the Berkeley chapter, titled: Clearing Up The Mess.
Color me skeptical that the mess will really be cleared up! I really wanted to finish last night, but I couldn't stay awake. I am 40 chapters from the "end," and then there are 44 pages of appendices where the various possible solutions are revealed to us.
I am massively enjoying this extraordinarily quirky little mystery and I hope that my sense that the authors are having a blast is accurate because it certainly feels that way to me. My copy has the tag line "The Most Unusual Mystery Ever Written," and I would say that, while hyperbolic, there's a fair argument to be made that it's accurate!
Just finished the very long and intriguing Dorothy Sayers chapter! I am not going to lie - I have no idea what is going on with all of these crazy clues!