Sunday Salon – Book Connections

The Sunday Salon is the place to meet and blog about the books we’re reading.

This morning I read some more from Agatha Christie’s book An Autobiography. It’s now 1917 and Agatha is working in a hospital dispensary in Torquay and also studying to take her Apothecaries Hall examination so she could dispense for a medical officer or a chemist. As part of her training she had instruction from a proper commercial chemist – a Mr P, one of the principal pharmacists in Torquay. She described him as

… a rather funny-looking little man, very roundabout and robin redbreast looking, with a nice pink face. There was a general air of childish satisfaction about him. (page 261)

He once showed her a piece of deadly curare that he carried around with him in his pocket. Curare once it has entered the bloodstream paralyses and kills you. He said he carried it in his pocket because it made him feel powerful. Agatha often wondered about him afterwards. In spite of his cherubic appearance she thought he was possibly a dangerous man and years later used her memory in writing The Pale Horse.

I then picked up H R F Keating’s book A Detective at Death’s Door and started reading it, whilst drinking a cup of coffee. I had intended reading one of my own books but this library book was closer to hand than any of my own books. In this book Superintendent Harriet Martens is just recovering from a nearly fatal dose of aconitine. Her husband, John recognised the symptoms from reading their description in an imaginary Agatha Christie book, Twisted Wolfsbane – aconitine is also known as wolfsbane.  Then a few pages later I came across this coincidence – Harriet quoted the passage in Agatha Christie’s An Autobiography about the chemist carrying round a piece of curare – the same passage I’d read half an hour or so earlier.

4 thoughts on “Sunday Salon – Book Connections

  1. Hi Margaret,

    I haven’t read an Agatha Christie for years, but now all these Agatha related posts have whetted my appetite.

    Her books are easy to slot in between more serious reads, so I shall have to dig a couple out.

    I haven’t heard of Keating, so I shall check that one out later.

    I was looking at your ‘currently reading’ list and checked out ‘Gone To Earth’ by Mary Webb. That sounds really intriguing and another one for the wish list. I hope you enjoy the read.


  2. Margaret – Thanks for sharing a little more from the autobiography. I think most writers are influenced by things that happen to them, and somehow that comes through in their work. And I find those connections and the others you’ve mentioned quite interesting. So are the connections between Christie’s work and other work…


  3. I read somewhere (poosibly in an AC biography?) about a nurse who was looking after a wee girl who was very ill and no-one could work out why. The nurse was reading A Pale Horse and recognised the symptoms, so they were able to cure the wee girl…


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