Friday, September 10, 2010

The Murder at the Vicarage by Agatha Christie

52. The Murder at the Vicarage - first in the Miss Marple series
by Agatha Christie
mystery, 1930
Kindle book - 1
finished, 9/2/10

Last month Simon offered a quote from E. M. Forster's Two Cheers For Democracy, and this portion of it really struck home for me:
I am myself a lover of the interiors of books, of the words in them - an uncut book is about as inspiriting as a corked up bottle of wine - and much as I enjoy good print and good binding and old volumes they remain subsidiary to the words: words, the wine of life.
This describes perfectly why I can love a Kindle book as well as an old, used book or a brand new, first-one-to-read-it book. It is all about the words, the story.

Andi left a comment on my Kindle post:
One great, engrossing read and you won't notice the "device" anymore.
And I found this to be true in my very first ebook. I was completely wrapped up in The Murder at the Vicarage, and fairly flew through it on my Kindle. It is so light and the 'pages' turn so easily and quickly.

There were Miss Marple stories published earlier, but this was her first appearance in a full-length book. The initial adjective used to describe her is 'terrible' and this from the Vicar's wife! She goes on to say:
"She's the worst cat in the village," said Griselda. "And she always knows every single thing that happens - and draws the worst inferences from it."
The Vicar tells the reader:
Griselda, as I have said, is much younger than I am. At my time of life, one knows that the worst is usually true.
Later when she appears, the Vicar describes her thus:
Miss Marple is a white-haired old lady with a gentle, appealing manner.
And comparing her to Miss Wetherby, who is 'a mixture of vinegar and gush'
Of the two Miss Marple is much the more dangerous.
And there we have it. A quiet entrance for the most famous and often most beloved of all amateur sleuths. I would say that her strongest trait is that of observation. She pays attention. She takes time to really see what is going on. And she 'remembers' other people, other occasions, other situations which are similar to a present dilemma. These associations help her to solve mysterious problems that others cannot begin to get a grip on.

As in many mysteries, the most obnoxious character is the first victim. The reader doesn't feel sorry that Colonel Protheroe has been found shot dead at a desk in the vicarage. The village of St Mary Mead is full of people who wouldn't mind seeing him dead, and quite soon someone confesses to the murder. But is he the real villain? And if not, why in the world did he confess?

I couldn't have been happier within the pages of this book. There's something about Agatha Christie that puts me right into the time and place of her books. I happily traveled through the village wondering 'whodunnit' and why, and was deeply satisfied when I reached the end. A lovely reading experience.


  1. First of all, I'm so glad that your reading experience with your new Kindle has been positive! I think I've told you that I'm almost positive I read faster on the Kindle. Maybe not, but it feels like it.

    Secondly, isn't it amazing that you could immerse yourself so totally into St. Mary Mead while using an e-reader? I say that it is a compliment to the e-reader, the reader herself (you), and, of course, my favorite little old lady, Miss Marple. I really like this book. Should reread it soon!

  2. I read this book long ago, but the thing I remember best about it, the thing I liked best was the depiction of the marriage of Griselda and her minister husband. Everytime I hear that Christie's characterizations were her weakness, this is one of the books I think of. There are very few writers who have the sense of place that Christie does. One or two brief sentences in and you're THERE. I've never been able to figure out quite how she did it. As you can tell, I'm a big Christie fan.

  3. Oh, Kay! I had actually planned to quote you when I do another Kindle book report. I'm sure that I read faster. I have zoomed through 3 books in 10 days - this doesn't happen unless I'm reading a J or YA book. I'm also not sleeping as much. I can't stop! I couldn't be happier. I still have my downstairs print book but I'm busier during the day and don't get to read as often as I'd like. I so loved it that I was reading an eighty year old book on a brand new Kindle. The whole thing just thrills me. If you go to the little tab under the blog header called Book Lists and then click 2010 books, you'll see the other two I've read and will report on soon. This blog could turn out to be just book reports because of reading so very fast. :<)

  4. Yvette, I was going to talk about that very thing, but felt I had gone on enough. :<) I love that marriage. And you are so right - her characters are deep, often with complex psychological motives for their actions. I have some other book reports on the Book Reports tab under the blog header if you are interested. Sometimes I think I could read only Agatha and be happy!

  5. This was the first crime novel I ever read. A good way to start!

  6. Yikes, I do not know if I am ready for this wholehearted YES to Kindle. I LOVE the feel, the aroma, the heft, everything about books, real books. Yes, I know a Kindle is handy, the print can be easier to read, etc., but I still love real books.

    I just recently signed a contract with my publisher that allows them to make my books e-books (and I had recently received a letter from a reader asking when I would have my books in e form). Well, the bottom line in publishing is that I will actually make more in royalties on e-books than on a paper book. So I have to ruminate on this.


    Sharon Lovejoy Writes from Sunflower House and a Little Green Island

  7. Martin, isn't it wonderful that you remember that?!

    Sharon, I'm not loving the Kindle in lieu of print, just in addition! It works for me upstairs, and in fact it lives up there. Downstairs I have my print book.

  8. I enjoy my Kindle Nan. Have you been following the Blog Tour for Agatha Christie this month? See the link here.
    I don't think for me the Kindle will replace paper books, but I love the portability and I certainly think I read faster on it.

  9. I've only read one AG book but I loved it. I want to read all of them and plan on making time for them next year in my reading!

  10. I love Miss Marple! I can't wait to read her on a Kindle.

    I read about the Agatha Christie challenge on one of the book blogs -- it is to read all her books in order. I don't have the patience fAgatha Are you doing this? I don't have the patience to do that, but I really appreciated the reminder of how much I love this author and I've been trying to read as much of her as I can get my hands on.

    Christie's books are great in the way that you feel a part of that time and place.

    And also its nice that usually (maybe always?) only the bad ones die!

    As soon as we get back from this roadtrip I'm ordering my Kindle!!

  11. It was wonderful to read this review: first, because it's lovely that you got so much pleasure from this book (Miss Marple is my favourite Christie character and I'm delighted you like her as much as I do); and second, to read that you are enjoying your Kindle so much. I'm waiting for one - probably won't arrive until next month - having debated for ages over whether to get one: it makes sense when I travel so much, and I have awful trouble with my hands that is made much worse by holding books, but I just couldn't decide. Then the new ones came out, and they read PDFs, so they will be useful for work too, so I decided to take the plunge!
    I'd put this Miss Marple at the top of my list to read on the Kindle when it arrives, but it doesn't seem to be available here.

  12. So glad you're enjoying the Kindle. It's fantastic for travel, and I also think I read faster on it. Which translates to reading MORE . . . always a good thing.

    As for The Murder at the Vicarage: I adore Miss Marple. She's one of my heroes.

  13. Kerrie, yes! I'm so enjoying the variety of postings.

    Staci, they are very rewarding reads!

    Sallie, actually the challenge is just to read all her books - some people are doing them in order but others like me just hope to read them all ... someday. There's a link down at the end of my blog.

    Geranium Cat, how is that possible that the book isn't available there?! I can't believe it. You will have such fun with your Kindle!!

    Karen, I'm certain I read faster. So thrilling!

  14. I recently read a Christie novel (Murder of Roger Ackroyd) and really loved it and would like to read more. I read her as a kid, but I don't remember much of that. It's fun to return to her books again!

  15. Nan, are you familiar with the BBC TV series of Miss Marple Mysteries from the 1980s? My mother-in-law gave me a collection of them on DVD as a birthday present earlier this year, and although at first I must confess I was afraid I'd find them a little boring, I was soon very eager to watch the next one in line, and sad to come towards the end of the small pile. "The Murder at the Vicarage" was the first one I watched; you can find it here:
    This series is, in my opinion, very well done, and although the great Margaret Rutherford will NEVER be forgotten, Joan Hickson portrais Miss Marple a lot more accurately to the character Agatha Christie described in her books.

  16. Dorothy, I must read that one. I've heard so much about it, and do know the 'secret' but I need to read it, and soon!

    Librarian, I have seen those Joan Hickson Miss Marple programs and I loved them, and her. I think she was perfect, perfect. I have Murder at the Vicarage at the top of my Netflix queue. What I've been trying to do with my AC reading is to watch the television version after I read the book. Some have been great, others not so much. Your mother-in-law is so very kind.

  17. What a marvellous mystery that is - although as I recall, not my absolute top Marple favourite - that spot is held by "A Murder is Announced" which I think takes some beating.

    Thanks for sharing


  18. Hannah, I look forward to A Murder is Announced. Although I haven't done so with the Poirot books, I may try to read Miss Marple in order, just for fun. I have this one, and the two ahead of it on my Kindle. :<)

  19. The descriptions you chose made me smile Nan. Glad you loved this so much.

    1. And thank you for taking the time to come and read this!


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