Sunday, May 20, 2012

Crooked House by Agatha Christie



29. Crooked House
by Agatha Christie
mystery, 1949
library book six
Nook book 9
finished 5/20/12

This book is one of my own special favourites. I saved it up for years, thinking about it, working it out, saying to myself: "One day, when I've plenty of time, and want to really enjoy myself - I'll begin it!" I should say that of one's output, five books are work to one that is real pleasure. Crooked House was pure pleasure. … I don't know what put the Leonides family into my head - they just came. Then, like Topsy "they growed." I feel that I myself was only their scribe.
Agatha Christie
From the Foreword to Crooked House



Her words stayed with me all through my reading of the book, and made it even more fun than it would have been not knowing it was one of her favorites. Well, 'fun' may not be quite the right adjective, though it can be fun to shiver with apprehension as one reads along. The book began with a young couple in love and is narrated by the man, Charles. My first thoughts about his beloved, Sophia were that she was to be one of Agatha's delightful, spunky, upbeat heroines. And she was, mostly, but it is hard to live up to all those adjectives when your grandfather is murdered and the killer must be a member of the family household!

The Leonides family consists of the grandfather, his second wife, his two sons, their wives, the three children of one of the sons, of whom Sophie is one, and the grandfather's sister-in-law (from his first wife, the sons' mother), as well as the old Nannie, and the two younger children's teacher. The house is divided into sections so each family group has their own quarters. Sophia tells Charles about the house.
"'And they all lived together in a little crooked house.' That's us. Not really such a little house either. But definitely crooked - running to gables and half timbering!"

Later she says,
"I think that's what I mean when I said we all lived together in a little crooked house. I didn't mean it was crooked in the dishonest sense. I think what I meant was that we hadn't been able to grow up independent, standing by ourselves, upright. We're all a bit twisted and twining."
And boy is that ever the truth! As the story goes on, we see all the little idiosyncracies in this family. Charles happens to be the son of a Scotland Yard policeman so he becomes quite involved in the post-murder life of the Leonides. His father appreciates him being a kind of johnny-on-the-spot, the eyes and ears of the police without intimidating the family. One of the sons was the father's favorite, even though he was an utter failure at the family business. The second son never got the attention he feels he deserved. Sophia's younger brother and sister, Eustace and Josephine, are odd, to put it mildly. The whole family hopes the killer is the young wife of the grandfather. They think that maybe she and the tutor are in love.

And with that, I have said enough. This is truly a book you'll want to discover on your own, making your way along in its pages, trying to figure out who on earth 'dunnit.' When there is a second attempt at murder, I became even more baffled. Crooked House would have made a fantastic movie, and I've just read that the most talented Julian Fellowes is doing the screenplay, the cast has been hired, and it is supposed to come out next year.

37 comments:

  1. I have this book! I'm thrilled to know this is her favorite and it will make it more fun to read. I have to get it read before the movie comes out. I love the lilac! You can almost smell them and 'currently reading' 3! You are ambitious Nan! I' m reading a Compton MacKenzie - Hunting the Fairies. It's a wonderful romp thru the Highlands of Scotland.

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    1. I get caught when the library gets in books I've asked for! It really is four because I haven't yet picked my next ebook read. That's what I read in bed.
      Have you ever seen Monarch of the Glen? I believe CM wrote the original book, but I may be wrong. I loved the early series but not the later ones so much.

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    2. Yes I saw the series and loved it. That's what got me into his books. I got Monarch do the Glen and then more. I just posted a review on monarch and the fairies. The series is very loosely based on the book.

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  2. Thanks for this enticing review, Nan. This is an Agatha Christie that I have missed. Must rectify that. What a gift this must be to Julian Fellowes! Something to look forward to.

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    1. It is really thrilling about the movie!
      The book is a darkish little tale, and so good.

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  3. I listened to this one and absolutely loved it big time!!!

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    1. I wonder who narrated? I think it would have been scarier as an audio. :<)

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  4. Thanks for contributing to the Agatha Christie Blog Carnival Nan. I too enjoyed this one.

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    1. I was so surprised that we both read it this month!

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  5. I agree, it is much more fun reading a book when we have some background on it, like you when you knew this was the author's favourite.
    This one really sounds like a good mystery. I have not come across it yet, but who knows what my mother-in-law is going to send me next :-)

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    1. Agatha amazes me, book after book.

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  6. I find this one quite scary, but also love it! So thrilled to hear it's getting the Fellowes treatment and will be a film too.

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  7. This is among my favourite Agatha Christie books, I have it on audio and listen to it often when I'm ironing. The ending definitely took me by surprise the first time I read it. Love your new header - what a lovely photo.

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    1. As I wrote to Staci, I wonder if the audio is even scarier.
      Thanks. The lilacs are in full glory just now. So, so beautiful. And the smell!

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  8. I haven't read Agatha Christie in years and will put this on my TBR list. By the way, I love your banner picture, what a lovely surprise when I opened your blog.
    Ann

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    1. I only began a few years ago, and I just love her. She can do anything - from thrillers to cozies to character studies.
      Thank you! The lilacs are so beautiful. Every year they please me anew with their beauty and fragrance.

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  9. Agatha Christie is one of my long time favorites. It's been so long since I last read one of her books. I really need to revisit them. A friend gave me a bagful of Christie books quite awhile ago that she no longer wanted. My daughter keeps grabbing one or two off the shelf and bringing them to me. Maybe that's a sign I should make time to read them!

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    1. That reminds me of the Siamese in the Cat Who books who would sorta solve crimes by pulling books off the shelves. :<) You could read them aloud to your girl. She wouldn't care. And she'd probably grow up a genius!

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  10. I just read this one a couple of months ago and loved it. I've been on an AC kick for the past 6 months or so.

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  11. Great news about a possible Julian Fellowes movie based on Crooked House....I've been rereading AC recently too......Sleeping Murder may be my favorite.....But I keep changing my mind!

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    1. I wonder if I'll ever finish all her work so that I, too, may reread! :<)

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  12. I need a new Agatha on my Kindle (we'll be traveling soon and I'm 'stocking up'....I think this will be it. Thanks Nan.

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  13. Never ever read Agatha Christie. Have i been on planeet Mars? I wiil get my Kindle version tonight and enjoy it during my vacation!

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    1. Honestly I only began in earnest a few years ago. If you want more ideas, you may click on the authors tab under the banner picture, and scroll down to her name. Then just click on titles.

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  14. It's a goody isn't it Nan and as you say a bit creepy (in an enjoyable way) :0):0):0)

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  15. I read this many MANY years ago and had totally forgotten all about it. So thanks for the reminder, Nan. I'm going to get my hands on a copy at some point this year. The odd thing is I do remember who the killer is, but not much else. Your review didn't even ring a bell - at least about the characters.

    I also did remember that Christie always said this was one of her faves. At one point in time I think I had just about every Christie book on my shelves but over the years, the paperbacks deteriorated and all I've got left now are just a few tattered paperbacks and several anthologies with three or four novels collected therein. Not my favorite way to read a book, but it's better than nothing.

    I should have bought the hardcovers when I had the chance. Darn!

    Yes, this will make a terrific movie - unless they muck it all up.

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    1. I was just thinking about you this morning. I just stopped in and saw you are back. Hooray!

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  16. Ooh, I don't remember this one very well. Time for a reread!

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    1. As soon as you begin, you'll probably remember whodunnit!

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    2. No, I didn't! I reread it last weekend, and was really surprised at the end. I'd also forgotten how much I loved the story :-)

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  17. I loved this book Nan -- thank you! I'm going to take a break from checking off Hercule and go to some more of the stand-alones. It was so interesting to read what Dame Agatha said about how she loved this book.

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    1. I've enjoyed the stand-alones I've read. It felt like she was talking to me. I really must read her autobiography.

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Now that I am a grandmother, it seems that I am often late in replying to your most-appreciated comments. But I read them as soon as they come in, and I will write as soon as I can. Please do come back and check. I love these blogging conversations. A little addendum - I've just spent quite a long time catching up with dear notes you left me months ago!! I do hope you can get back to read them. And I'm trying to be much more prompt now!

Also, you may comment on any post, no matter how old, and I will see it.