Greenshaw's Folly: a Miss Marple Mystery

Agatha Christie’s Marple last night was Greenshaw’s Folly. I saw in the Radio Times that it was based on Christie’s short story of the same name and so I read it before watching the programme. It’s less than 20 pages and I wondered how the script writers were going to make it last 2 hours, even with the advert breaks. Well, of course, they padded out with other plot elements and characters. And there are more murders, and some farcical scenes with policemen running wild – all a bit of a mess really, but lightly done.

Greenshaw’s Folly is a house, visited by Raymond West (Miss Marple’s nephew), who does not appear in the TV version and Horace Bindler, a literary critic (an undercover reporter in the TV version). It’s an unbelievable architectural monstrosity, built by a Mr Greenshaw. Raymond explained:

‘He had visited the chateaux of the Loire, don’t you think? Those turrets. And then, rather unfortunately, he seems to have travelled in the Orient. The influence of the Taj Mahal is unmistakeable. I rather like the Moorish wing,’ he added, ‘and the traces of a Venetian palace.’ (extract from the short story)

The short story is compact, whereas the TV version is packed with poisonings, ghosts, locked rooms, concealed identities, and so on. But apart from that, I’m not going to try to compare the TV show to the short story as there are so many differences that they are really two separate entities. And both are enjoyable in their own way. Julia Mackenzie is nearly right as Miss Marple, not as good as Joan Hickson, but then who could be. I just wish the sweet smile was toned down a little. The rest of the cast included Fiona Shaw, Julia Sawalha, Joanna David, Judy Parfitt, Robert Glenister and Jim Moir (aka Vic Reeves). All were very good, especially Bobby Smalldridge as Archie Oxley (Mrs Oxley’s young son who does not appear in the short story).

Greenshaw’s Folly was first published in the Daily Mail 3 – 7 December 1956 and is included in Miss Marple and Mystery The Complete Short Stories.

I see that one of the plot elements involving the use of atropine and its antidote has been taken from one of the other stories in this collection, The Thumb Mark of St Peter, first published in 1928. I think the script writers must have had great fun with these stories.

6 thoughts on “Greenshaw's Folly: a Miss Marple Mystery”

  1. I thoroughly enjoyed it and was pleased when I realised it was a story I’d not read or even heard of before. I agree it did start to get a bit like a farce. At one stage I realised I was losing track of the plot. LOL. Nice to see all those familiar faces, I hardly recognised Julia Sawalha, particularly liked Fiona Shaw, but they all did well, and yes, the little boy was *excellent*. How nice that they chose a child who looked like he might belong to the era too. I gather that’s it now until later in the year, unless I heard wrong.

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    1. I was in two minds, Cath, when I saw it was a story I hadn’t read, but I was too curious and had to read it yesterday afternoon – there are some really good stories in the Short Story Collection.

      I also had to look several times to recognise Julia Sawalha – Saffy’s grown up!!

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  2. I’m really enjoying Julia McKenzie’s performance more and more. I love Joan Hickson but JMcK’s getting close…

    I also like that they’re moving away from the same half dozen main Miss Marple stories and being a bit experimental, even if it sometimes works better than others! Fabulous casting all round.

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  3. I did the same and read the short story before the programme….I have yet to watch it and was intrigued by how they were going to flesh out the story. Apparently they wove another short story into it – The Thumb of the Mark of St Peter.

    I do like the short stories of Agatha Christie, and I am not generally a fan of short stories. I suppose you know what you are getting with her.

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