Today I’ve read one of the short stories from Agatha Christie’s collection Miss Marple and Mystery .
This collection contains 55 stories, 20 of them featuring Miss Marple. I’ve read some of these in other short story collections but there are still many I haven’t read. There is an Short Story Chronology in the Appendix with a table aiming to present all Agatha Christie’s short stories published between 1923 and 1971, listed in order of traced first publication date.
Counting how many there are in total is a difficult task – some stories that first appeared in weekly or monthly magazines were later re-worked and became chapters in a larger work, some in Partners in Crime were sub-divided into smaller chapters, 13 were re-worked into the episodic novel, The Big Four, and some were rewritten so substantially that they appear separately in different books!
The Lonely God has also been published as an e-book. It was first published in the Royal Magazine in July 1926.
This is an unusual story from Agatha Christie. It’s a love story about two lonely people who meet in the British Museum. Frank is forty, recently returned to England after spending 30 years in Burma. He has no friends and feels he is out of touch with the times, having spent so long abroad. He wanders around aimlessly and strolls into the British Museum one day to look at the Asian curiosities. There he spots a little grey stone idol, a pathetic little figure sitting hopelessly in isolation, elbows on his knees and his head in his hands; ‘a lonely god in a strange country.’
One day he finds a young woman in front of the ‘lonely god‘. Although dressed shabbily she is obviously a poverty stricken lady, fallen on hard times. They are both fascinated by the little stone god and gradually begin a conversation. And then they have tea together in an ABC shop near the Museum. Frank is in love. But when he goes to the see the lonely god again she doesn’t come – and he has no idea where she lives, or even know her name, because she wouldn’t tell him, wanting them to be just ‘two lonely people, who’ve come together and. made friends. It makes it so much more wonderful – and different.’ Frank is heartbroken. Will he ever find her again?
I really enjoyed this little story. As I said not crime fiction, but just a touching little romance that appealed to me. Agatha Christie, however described it in her Autobiography as ‘ regrettably sentimental‘. She had written it after reading The City of Beautiful Nonsense. (Autobiography page 198 in my paperback copy). I had to look up that book. It’s by Ernest Temple Thurston, published in 1909 and described as a ‘sentimental novel’. It is a tale of two cities: mainly about the life of the shabby genteel in Edwardian London, but also in Venice.