Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Short Stories on Wednesdays - The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding

Please visit Breadcrumb Reads for more short stories this week.



I am particularly fond of this old cover because it best expresses what Agatha Christie meant when she offered this collection. She says in the foreward:
This book of Christmas fare may be described as 'The Chef's Selection'. I am the chef!
Isn't that delightful?! It is just the sort of humor I imagine the great writer to have had. She goes on to say:
There are two main courses: The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding and The Mystery of the Spanish Chest; a selection of Entrées: Greenshaw's Folly, The Dream and The Underdog, and a Sorbet: Four-and-Twenty Blackbirds.

She tells the reader that this story 'recalls to me, very pleasurably, the Christmases of my youth.'
After my father's death, my mother and I always spent Christmas with my brother-in-law's family in the north of England - and what superb Christmases they were for a child to remember! Abney Hall had everything! ... So let me dedicate this book to the memory of Abney Hall - its kindness and its hospitality.


The story begins with a man from the government asking Hercule Poirot for help. He is accompanied by a young man, an engaged 'potentate-to-be, the only son of the ruler of a rich and important State' who has committed an indiscretion in England. While dining with a woman, he let her wear a famous ruby from his country's collection. She leaves to 'powder her nose' and disappears with the jewel. The government fellow, Mr. Jesmond requests that Poirot spend Christmas at a country house where he expects the ruby's thief will be in attendance. Hercule Poirot is not enthusiastic about the idea, thinking the place will be cold and uncomfortable. 'In the winter, I do not leave London.' Mr. Jesmond woos him by saying the old house has been modernized with central heating and hot water and radiators in all the bedrooms.

A lot happens in this short story. Someone tries to drug Poirot. He receives a note telling him not to eat the plum pudding. The owner of the house almost chokes on a piece of 'red glass' in his Christmas pudding and Hercule Poirot quietly pockets it. There is a staged murder which may be the real thing. And there is a group of young people with high spirits and great energy. And at the end M. Poirot is even kissed under the mistletoe! A thoroughly enjoyable and fun mystery! I expect I shall read more of these stories in the next few weeks.

The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding, an expanded version of a story with the same name which first appeared in The Sketch magazine December 11, 1923. It also appeared in other collections over the years, including Double Sin and Other Stories, 1961, in which it was called The Theft of the Royal Ruby. This collection was published in England in 1960.

10 comments:

  1. Do you know, I think I have only ever read one Agatha Christie book in my life, and I can't remember which one it was. This books sounds SUCH fun and I shall look out for it.

    Oh, and I agree, synchronicity in our blog headers right now!

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  2. Bovey Belle, I really began in earnest just a few years ago, and I am absolutely loving her work.
    Yeah, pretty amazing about the photos!

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  3. Nan, this sounds like it could be a fun story to read aloud on a cold, windy night (like tonight, here).

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  4. I'm waiting for those kind of nights, Penny! Still warm here.

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  5. I'm going to mark this one down for my Christmas reading. It sounds like it's fun but also a good basic mystery, Agatha style.

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  6. Poirot getting kissed beneath mistletoe? That alone will get me to read it.

    Thanks for sharing the review and background on Christie; her stories have such delicious ingredients.

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  7. HKatz, it's a short little passage, but so sweet. The more I read AC, the more I admire her. Her plots, her backgrounds, her characters. Sublime.

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  8. I love reading this story at Christmastime. I also think it's one of the funniest short Poirot stories - the bit with the nightcap always cracks me up.

    I love the picture in your blog header, by the way!

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  9. Elisabeth, I really enjoyed it, too. Thanks for coming by. Info on the blog header pic is available by clicking the tab 'banner picture'

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