Sunday, September 30, 2012

A Thing of Beauty is a Joy Forever Nor Death Cannot Sever

An automaton, a man and a woman who can never meet, two stories of love—all are brought to incandescent life in this hauntingly moving novel from one of the finest writers of our time.

London 2010: Catherine Gehrig, conservator at the Swinburne museum, learns of the sudden death of her colleague and lover of thirteen years. As the mistress of a married man, she must struggle to keep the depth of her anguish to herself. The one other person who knows Catherine’s secret—her boss—arranges for her to be given a special project away from prying eyes in the museum’s Annexe. Usually controlled and rational, but now mad with grief, Catherine reluctantly unpacks an extraordinary, eerie automaton that she has been charged with bringing back to life. 

As she begins to piece together the clockwork puzzle, she also uncovers a series of notebooks written by the mechanical creature’s original owner: a nineteenth-century Englishman, Henry Brandling, who traveled to Germany to commission it as a magical amusement for his consumptive son. But it is Catherine, nearly two hundred years later, who will find comfort and wonder in Henry’s story. And it is the automaton, in its beautiful, uncanny imitation of life, that will link two strangers confronted with the mysteries of creation, the miracle and catastrophe of human invention, and the body’s astonishing chemistry of love and feeling.
'Machines cannot feel, it is commonly believed. Souls have no chemistry, and time cannot end. Our skin contains four million receptors. That is all I know. I love you. I hold you. I miss you forever. I kiss your toes.'(Catherine Gehrig, 2010).

'Dear Percy, I did not really want a swan. In spite of what I said, I did not even wish to leave your side. I never wanted more, darling boy, than to make you well. Dear God, may he still be there and waiting for me. Dear Lord, I pray, let him be saved. May I deserve admittance, in your sight.' (Henry Brandling, 1845).


The premise is one of love lost through death, grief, illness, and abandonment in the worst possible way. The coil of unending suffering, some self-inflicted and some as a result of life itself, winding its way through these pages as hands on a clock move ever forward and backward.

Protagonist, Catherine Gehrig, is a character who finds herself grieving over the 'secret' lover she had for thirteen years, who was her co-worker as well. When one reads her chapters, her moods and emotions are palpable and heightened; one could say erratic. She's in shock and grieving. Her one saving grace is her career as a horologist (clock maker) at London's Swinburne Museum. 


Peter Carey has beautifully composed a sonnet of love in all its forms: positive and negative.  He does not shield the reader from his fictionalized reality, instead he opens the blinds for them, invites them in, if they choose to walk through his open door, then welcome. Be prepared for a story with two story lines spanning two decades between a man and a woman, whom although shall never meet, share one primary objective: Catherine puts the automaton duck or swan together as a way of saving her sanity and working through her grief while 'grieving' Henry puts it together as a final tribute to his dying son. 

Peter Carey impressed me immensely by writing with an honesty that pierces the soul and using accurate historical references and figures within some of his chapters for Henry Brandling of 1845. For instance, I checked and his source, 'Artificial Life and Intelligence, circa 1730-1950 by Dr. Jessica Riskin, really exists, as well as, Abbe Desfontaines, a real 18th century person!  It made me smile broadly every time I read the words, 'Illustrated London News' recognizing it as a wonderful nineteenth-century newspaper that I've actually read when researching Tennyson, Dickens, and other Victorian Era notables! 

My only pet peeve was reading through the Germany sections pertaining to Henry Brandling. Just not very interesting to me. I would love to find out how a man can write from the female perspective rather convincingly? 

If anyone is curious about The Chemistry of Tears, let me tell you that it was an intriguing and painfully emotionally raw dual-story of how two people loved, lost, grieved and tried to heal.  I highly recommend The Chemistry of Tears by Peter Carey to anyone who has suffered through all that grief encompasses. This is a story of healing and I truly believe those readers who can identify with Catherine and Henry, on any level, are the ones who will understand just what writer Peter Carey has done! Bravo!!  

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Saturday, September 29, 2012

Angela Thirkell and Three Houses (1890 - 1961)



ANGELA THIRKELL (1890 - 1961) Angela Margaret Mackail was born on January 30, 1890 at 27 Young Street, Kensington Square, London. Her grandfather was Sir Edward Burne-Jones the pre-Raphaelite painter and partner in the design firm of Morris and Company for whom he designed many stained glass windows - seven of which are in St Margaret's Church in Rottingdean, West Sussex. Her grandmother was Georgiana Macdonald, one of a precocious family which included among others, Stanley Baldwin, the Prime Minister, and Rudyard Kipling. Angela's brother, Denis Mackail, was also a prolific and successful novelist. Angela's mother, Margaret Burne-Jones, married John Mackail - an administrator at the Ministry of Education and Professor of Poetry at Oxford University.


Angela married James Campbell McInnes in 1911. James was a professional Baritone and performed at concert halls throughout the UK. In 1912 their first son Graham was born and in 1914 a second son, Colin. A daughter was born in 1917 at the same time her marriage was breaking up. In November 1917 a divorce was granted and Angela and the children went to live with her parents in Pembroke Gardens in London. The child, Mary, died the next year. 

Angela then met and married George Lancelot Thirkell in 1918 and in 1920 they traveled on a troop ship to George's hometown in Australia. Their adventures on the "Friedricksruh" are recounted in her Trooper to the Southern Cross published in 1934. In 1921, in Melbourne Australia, her youngest son Lancelot George was born. Angela left Australia in 1929 with 8 year old Lance and never returned. Although living with her parents in London she badly needed to earn a living so she set forth on the difficult road of the professional writer. Her first book, Three Houses, a memoir of her happy childhood was published in 1931 and was an immediate success. The first of her novels set in Trollope's mythical county of Barsetshire was Demon in the House, followed by 28 others, one each year. 

Angela also wrote a book of children's stories entitled The Grateful Sparrow using Ludwig Richter's illustrations; a biography of Harriette Wilson, The Fortunes of Harriette; an historical novel, Coronation Summer, an account of the events in London during Queen Victoria's Coronation in 1838; and three semi-autobiographical novels, Ankle Deep and Oh, These Men, These Men and Trooper to the Southern Cross. When Angela died on the 29th of January 1961 she left unfinished the last of her books, Three Score and Ten which was completed by her friend, Caroline LeJeune. Angela is buried in Rottingdean alongside her daughter Mary and her Burne-Jones grandparents. 





'There is always in our minds the hope that we may find again those golden unhastening days and wake up and dream'

 In this beautifully nostalgic memoir, eminent author Angela Thirkell recalls in rich detail the three houses in which she grew up. Focusing first on 'The Grange', where her grandfather, the celebrated painter Sir Edward Burne-Jones, set the cultivated tone, Thirkell also reminisces about her parents' home in Kensington Square and the Burne-Jones' seaside retreat, where Angela's cousin, Rudyard Kipling, lived across the green in a house called Rottingdean from 1897-1903. A tale of forbidden explorations, Punch and Judy shows, and adventures in the garden, Three Houses is beautifully evocative of the innocent quality of childhood. From the busy literary centre of London to the English coast, this stunning memoir is both reminiscent of the golden days of youth and an interesting vision of a writer and the early influences that informed her later work. 

Rottingdean:  She spent much time at the home of her Burne-Jones grandparents, North End House.  It is lovingly described in her Three Houses (1931) as is The Elms, also in Rottingdean.  She was of course a cousin of the Kiplings and the Baldwins, and there is quite a lot of material on this at The Grange, Rottingdean. (Kipling lived in Rottingdean from 1897 to 1903 before moving to Burwash because of a lack of privacy). Angela Thirkell died in 1961, still writing, and is buried in the churchyard of St. Margaret's Church in Rottingdean next to her daughter, Mary, who died young.

NORTH END HOUSE: In 1880 Prospect Cottage and Aubrey Cottage were purchased by the Pre-Raphaelite artist Sir Edward Burne-Jones. He then merged the two into one house, which he named North End House after his London residence, and lived there until his death in 1898. In 1920 the house was bought by another artist, Sir William Nicholson, and then in 1923 by Sir Roderick Jones and his wife, the writer Enid Bagnold (1889-1981). Jones also purchased the adjacent Gothic House, and combined it with the other two to form one very large residence still known as North End House. In the 1980s the buildings were restored again into three separate houses, but Gothic House has retained the name North End House.

All three are listed buildings and date from the eighteenth century. Prospect Cottage bears a plaque to Burne-Jones, while Aubrey Cottage is an unusual building with a wooden balustrade and many windows. North End House is an elegant building with a Doric porch and is faced with black glazed mathematical tiles.

Why did Mr. and Mrs. Burne-Jones move into 'The Grange?'  According to Burne-Jones biographer, Penelope Fitzgerald, in an article she wrote for the Morris Society she explains, 'North End contained two brewers, a horse-dealer, and a private asylum for ladies. This in itself shows how remote the place was, since private asylums had to be as far as possible from any form of transport, and although the Thames Junction Railway ran through the fields below The Grange, trains didn't stop there. Milk was still delivered in pails and there were briar roses in the lanes (but Burne-Jones was never a countryman anyway - the country, he complained, was so noisy). The north house, which was the onc they chose of the two, had the advantage of a good north light and an indoor studio, but even with two children it was too big for them, and the rates were high in Fulharn. They had in fact to share it at first with an old Birmingham friend, Wilfred Heelcy, and his wife, who were waiting to go out to India, or they could never have managed the rent at all. 

The Grange, then, had almost nothing to recommend it to Georgie except inaccessibility. The directions were said to be 'Go down the Cromwell Road till your cabhorse drops dead, and then ask someone.' But, as it turned out almost immediately, it was nor inaccessible enough.'

The Grange dining room painted by T.M. Rooke


 ln Three Houses The Grange appears as a children's paradise even more paradisal than it had been to Rudyard Kipling (Ruddie) in the 1870s, partly because while Kipling was understood and most kindly treated, Angela was grossly spoiled. When she was born Burne-Jones was having a rivalry with Gladstone as to which of them could spoil their granddaughters the most. Angela
always sat next to him at lunch, blew the froth off his beer, had her bread buttered
on both sides, rushed into the kitchen to talk to Robert the parrot. The children
were free to roam the whole house, except the studio, and yet she saw William
Morris only once, in Georgie's sitting room. She saw him as 'an old man (or so I
thought him) with the aggressive mop of white hair who was talking, between fits
of coughing, to my grandmother.'
And yet Morris was often in the house. Having become a printer, he assumed
that Burne-Jones would be the chief illustrator for the Kelmscott Press. The Sunday morning breakfasts returned and seem to have been times of heroic and unwise eating on Morris's part - sausages, haddock, tongue and plover's eggs, according to Rooke, 'and then he would go to the side-table and wish he had had something else.' And then, in the February of 1896, Morris suddenly leant his forehead on his hand in a way that Ned and Georgie had never seen before - never, in all the time they had known him.'

portrait painting of Angela Thirkell by Sir Edward Burne-Jones
Sir Edward Burne-Jones with grandson and granddaughter, both became authors

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Thursday, September 27, 2012

The White Forest by Adam McOmber: A Review

In the bestselling tradition of The Night Circus and Sarah Waters’s The Little Stranger, Adam McOmber’s hauntingly original debut novel follows a young woman in Victorian England whose peculiar abilities help her infiltrate a mysterious secret society.

Young Jane Silverlake lives with her father at a crumbling family estate on the edge of Hampstead Heath. Jane has a secret—an unexplainable gift that allows her to see the souls of manmade objects—and this talent isolates her from the outside world. Her greatest joy is wandering the wild heath with her neighbors, Madeline and Nathan. But as the friends come of age, their idyll is shattered by the feelings both girls develop for Nathan, and by Nathan’s interest in a cult led by Ariston Day, a charismatic mystic popular with London’s elite. Day encourages his followers to explore dream manipulation, with the goal of discovering a new virtual reality, a place he calls the Empyrean.

A year later, Nathan has vanished, and the famed Inspector Vidocq arrives in London to untangle the events that led up to Nathan’s disappearance. As a sinister truth emerges, Jane realizes she must discover the origins of her talent and use it to find Nathan herself, before it’s too late.
  
It was my grief and my vision of the pale forest that opened me to what Nathan would later call my "talent." After the death of my mother, I was changed. It was as though her passing had torn open the very cells of my body, causing an ache like I'd never known. These cells were now pouring forth some strange material, giving birth to a new Jane Silverlake who I did not yet fully comprehend. 

 The White Forest is narrated from the protagonist, Jane Silverlake's perspective.  The setting appears to be 19th century, Victorian era, England. There are flashbacks that appear frequently within these pages. There are many main characters: Jane's parents, her best friend Madeline Lee, mutual friend Nathan Ashe (a Lord Byron wannabee), and the ever illusive and evil Ariston Day. Do not get very attached to many of these characters because within this ancient tale, many mysteries and secrets abound. This might be the problem. You see, though, I love a good Victorian Gothic tale, as much as the next gal, I get the feeling Adam McOmber couldn't decide on which avenue to take.Do I make this a Victorian tale with Gothic elements, or do I write a Fairy Tale/Fantasy/SciFi/Goth?

It is clear from the beginning that Jane Silverlake is a special girl due to the fact that 'Jane can touch objects (even people) and change them' but how, I wondered? The reader soon finds out that Jane is what Pagans, Wiccans, and Celtic Mythology refer to as an 'empath or clairvoyant' complete with visions! This is necessary to the plot and towards the end of this not-so-complicated tale, the truth about Jane and those who orbit her world, is told and everything clicks in to place. Thank goodness for this because an impatient soul, as myself, was growing quite frustrated with Ms. Silverlake and her illustrious group of friends.

I would not say I loved The White Forest but I did not hate it. I am in like with it. My one pet peeve is a big one...
Adam McOmber writes descriptively using a Victorian era tone but suddenly he has characters narrating after large dialogue scenes using modern language and slang which is insulting to the reader but more importantly jarrs them out of one era and back to present day!

 DON'T DO THAT...EVER...

Also, he takes his liberties with historical experiences. For instance, he ruined the chapter mentioning the Great Exhibition at the Crystal Palace taking place at Hyde Park, London. He made the choice to keep the location Hyde Park even though at the back of the novel, he makes a point to mention that the location moved to Sydenham Hill. If he had done his research beyond location, he would have mentioned the fact that there were numerous fantastic writers and painters who travelled to see this exhibition such as Pre-Raphaelite notables and Alfred Tennyson who wrote home to his wife Emily mentioning how he enjoyed listening to Handel's Messiah being played as he toured the Great Exhibition. Emily was not with him because she was pregnant and could not travel. Though, according to her letters,she was disappointed to miss it. Queen Victoria is the only one mentioned as being there!
There is also the mention of 'toilets' and lovemaking described as 'making hasty love' which I strongly doubt in 1851 would have been the words used between friends to describe it!

Overall, a great attempt at a very clever story. However, the choice of the writer to add too many elements Fantasy, Gothic, Victorian era, Celtic Mythology, Greek Mythology, as well as, historical figures such as an interesting use of a visit from Edgar Allan Poe!
If you enjoy a full on mix of subjects and history than you will love The White Forest.  If not, then this might not be the book to choose!

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Saturday, September 15, 2012

AGATHA CHRISTIE – THE GRAND DAME OF THE BRITISH MYSTERY: Happy Birthday!!



‘I do find one’s friends are curious about the way one works. What is your method? they want to know. The disappointing truth is that I haven’t much method. I type my own drafts on an ancient faithful machine I’ve owned for years and I find a Dictaphone useful for short stories or for recasting an act of a play. I think the real work is done in thinking out the development of your story, and worrying about it, until it comes right. That may take quite a while. Once everything was in place, all that remained was to try to find time to write the thing. Three months seems to me quite a reasonable time to complete a book…On the other hand, plays I think are better written quickly.’

AGATHA’S BIRTH AND CHILDHOOD

Agatha Clarissa Miller was born on 15 September 1890. She was the daughter of Frederick Alvah Miller and Clarissa Boehmer. Agatha was the third child with her sister Madge and brother Monty ten and eleven years older. When they were away at school, she learned to create her own company in order to entertain herself.  As she recounted in her autobiography, her imagination took off in the gardens of her home at Ashfield in Torquay, Devon, England.  The gardens were a place of wonderment, the woods filled with secret corners and hideaways where make-believe took her over. She acted out her daydreams and dramas laying the foundation for her writing career as the Queen of Crime and becoming the storyteller she was. 


Not being completely content with merely playing, she says that she taught herself to read at the age of five but her mother says she was eight years old. Her mother sent her to boarding school at the age of seven where Agatha’s favorite occupation became ‘reading a play’ and her favorite poets were Shakespeare and Tennyson.  Tennyson makes perfect sense; it would have been around 1897/8 when she was in boarding school with Tennyson passing when she was two years old. Tennyson’s influence must have been a strong one given the era she was born in and one of her famous Miss Marple Mysteries, ‘The Mirror Crack’d from Side to Side (1962). 

Agatha did not go to school except briefly at age thirteen, at Miss Guyer’s Girls’ School in Torquay for two days a week to study algebra and grammar. Later, in her mid-teens, she attended a short series of schools when she lived in Paris with her mother. She said her famous line about being ‘gloriously idle.’  She spoke French during her time in Paris as well as learning to draw. She studied singing and became a keen piano player. She had a piano in her home in Torquay where she lived later in life, having wonderful evenings singing with friends standing around the piano during parties. 



AGATHA BEGINS TO WRITE


For Agatha Christie publication began in 1920 with the U.S. publication of her first Poirot mystery novel, ‘The Mysterious Affair at Styles.’ In 1921, it was published in the U.K.  What I wanted to know was when and how her writing career began?  It seems her sister Madge was married in 1902 and living in a grand mansion in Cheshire, England. When her sister Agatha would stay for visits, she grew bored and ‘would strut about, muttering to myself and gesticulating’ while dreaming up some drama or romance. She continues, ‘It never occurred to me to write anything down.’ When she did, it was upon her mother’s suggestion. Her mother gave her a notebook with the first few pages taken up by laundry lists but with plenty of blank pages left. Thus, began her writing method, one she would use throughout her writing life.  

 The turning point for Agatha came when she worked at the Red Cross Hospital in Torquay Town Hall, during the First World War. She volunteered as a nurse and found great satisfaction in the work. Later, she joined her friend Eileen Morris in the newly opened dispensary, where together they mastered chemistry even having a mishap when their coffee machine blew up while they used it for an arsenic test! It was in April 1917 when she received her qualifying certificate putting her on the register of assistants at the Society of Apothecaries, after having been examined in her ‘skill in compounding and dispensing Medicines.’ Her experience at the hospital had given her the murder weapon, she had already worked out the plot and all she needed now was the protagonist. She remembered the Belgian refugee who had recently come to Torquay and Hercule Poirot was born with his ‘little grey cells’ and obsessive behavior. Agatha would later say she regretted creating him and in a fit of frustration she created Ariadne Oliver, the successful detective novelist who appeared in several of Agatha’s novels, alongside Poirot, who himself became frustrated with her ‘maddening’ Finnish detective hero. It would seem that she needed a creative outlet for her frustrations and a fulcrum for her beloved Poirot. 

Agatha Christie completed The Mysterious Affair at Styles in 1916 at Moorland Hotel on Dartmoor. She would walk in the afternoons acting out the parts and conversations (much akin to Virginia Woolf’s style) then sleep for twelve hours and write furiously all morning. This hotel stay left Agatha with such a love of Dartmoor that she used it in The Sittaford Mystery with its setting on the edge of the moor. 

The Mysterious Affair at Styles was turned down by several publishers before she sent it to The Bodley Head but she heard nothing back. Having married Archie Christie in 1914, they lived at Ashfield setting up house there for the first time feeling such enthusiasm with a great flair for decorating. Her daughter, Rosalind, was born in 1919 and Agatha was understandably preoccupied with all things domestic. So, it came as a great surprise when she received a letter from John Lane of The Bodley Head agreeing to publish The Mysterious Affair at Styles in 1920. They also offered her £25.  Being without an agent, and a bit ignorant of the ways of publishing, she signed a contract for five books which began the ferocious productive routine she kept up throughout her life.  Towards the end of her life, reflecting back she says, The nice part about writing in those days was that I directly related it to money. This stimulated my output enormously I would plan a story and in due course I wrote it.’
 
The Secret Adversary, Murder on the Links and The Man in the Brown Suit followed, as well as numerous short stories later published as Poirot Investigates. Her breakthrough book came upon publication in 1926 The Murder of Roger Ackroyd. Its plot twist caused some controversy but sales increased and her reputation soared. Sadly, for Agatha Christie, this was to be a traumatic year: her mother died, she sorted out her family home of Ashfield when her husband demanded a divorce. This all resulted in the ten day disappearance of Agatha Christie. She went to stay with her sister at Abney Hall to recuperate and for some much needed tender loving care.  

Being aware of her need to fulfill contract obligations, she and her daughter Rosalind went to the Canary Islands to write The Mystery of the Blue Train based on a short story The Plymouth Express. This is where she used the train setting when she travelled to Devon. She said this was the worst book because she was still healing and forced to write it, so she finished it under obligation. 
 Greenway

By this time Agatha Christie had an agent and she re-embarked on her career with gusto, introducing a new detective, MISS MARPLE. Miss Marple would become one of the most popular and beloved characters (sorry Poirot). She wrote The Murder at the Vicarage which was published in 1930. The following decade saw many novels stimulated by her meeting the man who would become her second husband Max Mallowan, an archaeologist just fourteen years her junior.  It was in 1938 she bought their home Greenway located at Galmpton on the River Dart in Devon. This would be where she started writing her autobiography in 1950, completed in 1965. As usual Devon became the setting for her novels written during this time. For instance, Burgh Island, off the southwest coast of Devon became Smugglers’ Island in Evil Under the Sun and Soldier Island used in And Then There Were None.  

Along with detective stories featuring Poirot and Miss Marple, she also wrote thrillers and poetry using the pseudonym Mary Westmacott. She wrote six ‘romantic’ novels an obvious outlet for her emotional upheavals and her childhood dreams back in the gardens and woods. 

 AGATHA CHRISTIE: THE LATER YEARS
 In 1955, Agatha Christie Ltd. was formed, partly as a response to her finances being in dire straits. For several years she received no money from American sales due to tax investigations going back to 1938. When all was resolved she received a backlog of income from the Inland Revenue in England.  The company was set up to employ Agatha and to pay her a salary to write her novels. She would write one book a year and a new pattern emerged.


P.D. James commented on the range of her plots saying, ‘over and over again she came up with something that was astonishingly ingenious.  However, there was one mysterious aspect to Agatha’s writing that she would never giveaway: her approach to plotting remains a mystery. Her husband Max said once that she told him, ‘in writing a detective story, you begin at the end.’


Inspiration could strike at any moment. For instance, when staying with actor friends, The Sullivans they found her pacing round their swimming pool in deep absorption one day. This resulted in The Hollow. When it was published the dedication read, ‘For Larry and Danae, with apologies for using their swimming pool as the scene of a murder.’ 

 After seeing Joan Hickson play Miss Pierce in Appointment with Death in 1946, Agatha wrote to her saying, ‘I am going back to Devon on Saturday where I shall rest up and have a think. Come and have lunch with me – I will call you to play my Miss Marple one day if I can find time to write another play-too many domestic chores.’ Joan Hickson did play Miss Marple, sadly not during Agatha’s lifetime. 

Agatha Christie was scrupulous about facts, particularly where poisons were concerned. Poison was one of her favorite methods of dispatching the victim: she used it in eighty-three stories.  In 1967, she wrote a letter to a Dr. Stephen Laing asking first about ethyl chloride to which he replied, ‘Yes, it is an excellent instant anesthetic.’ Then about using thalidomide in birthday cake icing she said, ‘More attractive than porridge, I think! Would the unlucky victim pass out at the tea table? Or would it be a long-term business?’ Dr. Laing, being unfamiliar with the Queen of Crime replied, ‘If it was one of those interminable Scottish teas, then the unlucky victim would certainly pass out before its end. Thalidomide takes about 30-40 minutes to act and a dose of three grains is enough to cause 6 hours of sleep at least.’ 

They say, ‘Write what you know’…Well, Agatha Christie certainly did so. She resurrected Mr. P the pharmacist she so vividly describes in her autobiography who kept curate in his pocket, Zachariah Osborne, a respectably dapper chemist in the Pale Horse.  It was her character Ariadne Oliver in The Pale Horse (1961) who explained, ‘it’s safer, I think, to stick to what you know such as, holidaymakers on cruises and in hotels, or workers in shops and hospitals.’  In 1923, a working trip to South Africa with her husband Max bound for Cape Town appears in The Man in the Brown Suit.  

In a letter to her husband written in 1931 she describes a lively but disturbing train journey on the Orient Express when the train was stranded in the Balkans because of a flood. The journey ended two days later but the circumstances and the travelers, ‘an elderly American lady, a Hungarian Minister and his wife, a large Italian and a terrible man from Chicago’ provided source material for Murder on the Orient Express, published two years later. 

Some decades later, she received a letter from the novelist Daphne du Maurier from Cannes that said, ‘I have the pleasure of telling you that your paperbacks were in all the bookshops, in French and in English, and much to my mortification none of mine. I was quite put out!’

In 1959 UNESCO calculated that the Bible had been translated into 171 languages, Agatha Christie into 103, Shakespeare 90. Agatha Christie, author of 100 novels, collections of short stories and plays, remains the most translated individual author in the world. 

SOURCES
Dame Agatha’s Poisonous Pharmacopoeia, Pharmaceutical Journal, 1978, Peter and John Gwilt

Agatha Christie An Autobiography, HarperCollins, 2001


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The Last Bronte: The Intimate Memoir of Arthur Bell Nicholls by S.R. Whitehead: A Review

He was Mr Brontë's right hand man and Charlotte's husband. He fell in love with two sisters and revered a third while, to the trou...