Monday, September 14, 2009

Short Story Monday/Sanctuary by Agatha Christie

For my first Short Story Monday choice, I thought I'd read one by Agatha Christie, since it is her birthday week. It is the last story in my copy of Miss Marple, the Complete Short Stories. It was originally in a collection called Double Sin and Other Stories, which is happily still available.

I read this at wikipedia:

Sanctuary: serialised in the weekly newspaper supplement This Week magazine in two instalments from September 12 to September 19, 1954 under the title Murder at the Vicarage (not to be confused with the novel of the same name) with illustrations by Robert Fawcett.

Agatha Christie at about the time this story was published.

I really enjoyed Sanctuary. Every sentence, every word is important and necessary to the tale. The gist is that a vicar's wife finds a dying man in the church. He has been shot and soon dies after saying three words: sanctuary; a word that sounded like the vicar's name, Julian; and please. There is a mystery here, and it just so happens that the vicar's wife is Miss Jane Marple's favorite godchild, who possesses quite good powers of observation and detection herself.

There are wonderful descriptions which tell so much in a few words:

her battered felt hat

it was unheated except at service times

a small, mean. pursed-up mouth

crime in Chipping Cleghorn again... you don't lack for sensation here, do you, Mrs. Harmon?

From the first sentence, I was completely absorbed in the story. It was interesting, and the mystery was cleverly solved. I highly recommend it.


  1. "a small, mean, pursed-up mouth" What an image that creates! Sounds like another good Christie story. Glad you're going to do short story Mondays. I don't have one this week (I did a BBAW post), but hope to next time.

  2. JoAnn, I agree! I'm ever amazed when I read anything by AC. She is truly a great writer.

  3. It's not often anyone can get me wanting to read an Agatha Christie short story!! Only because I read so many of her books many years ago as a teenager.... I'm adding you to my blogroll!

  4. I have a terrible confession - I have never read an Agatha Christie (there, I said it!). I don't even think my best friend knows this as she was talking about rereading Agatha this morning on the phone. So - if I want to start since I have obviously been missing a lot - which book should I start with?
    Also - posted on my blog is a request for people to check out a book, Normal People Don't Live Like This, by a friend and a wonderful writer. Spread the word!

  5. I've only read one Christie book and that was "They Do It With Mirrors" in which the title gave away everything. I really should give her another chance.

  6. Sounds good Nan - I think I need a complete short stories - I've enjoyed the ones I've read more than I expected to

  7. OK, you've sold me! That sounds like a very intriguing story.

  8. Susan, I really think she is an incredible writer. I'll be over to visit your blog today.

    Susan, not 'terrible' at all. Honestly, if it hadn't been for a previous AC challenge, I don't think I would have picked up her books. She isn't just a sweet little old lady writing cozy mysteries, which may be a perception of her. Her books are often very psychological studies as well as being mysteries. Miss Marple isn't just adorable. She has depth and intelligence and is very shrewd. And the more Poirot I read, the more I enjoy him. I've become a huge fan which is why I've joined this latest, and ongoing, AC challenge. I want to read every word she ever wrote no matter how long it takes! I'll check out your blog today.

    John, there's plenty of time to read her. Maybe it took me getting older? Who knows? I saw the Mousetrap in England when I was in my early twenties, and wasn't prompted to go out and read AC books. Then she crept into my consciousness with the PBS early Miss Marple stories with Joan Hickson. Now I've watched a few Poirots, too, and begun on this marvelous reading adventure.

    Kerrie, I think AC is a marvel because her short stories are really just books in miniature - clues, plots, character development. She does more in a short story than many writers can do in a long book. I just love her!

    Kay, it was a great one!

  9. It is a good story isn't it, the vicar's wife and the vicar make a very nice couple don't they. Your review brings it all back to me I can 'see' the coloured stained glass shadow on the church floor and picture the inside of the Vicarage Lovely

  10. Val, wow, you really remember it well. That shows what a good writer she is when a reader can remember details like that. They are a nice couple.


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