Short Stories on Sunday

Today I’ve read one of the short stories from Agatha Christie’s collection Miss Marple and Mystery .

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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.

Short Stories on Sunday

Today I’ve read one of the short stories from Agatha Christie’s collection Miss Marple and Mystery .

IMG_20180513_095855842.jpg

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!

Manx Gold has also been published as an e-book. It was first published in the Manchester Daily Dispatch between 23-28 May 1930, and as a booklet distributed throughout the island, as a treasure hunt to promote tourism in the Isle of Man. She received a fee of £65 (in today’s money over £4,000!)

Cousins, who are engaged, Fenella and Juan are left an intriguing puzzle by their uncle who lived in the Isle of Man – to find four ‘ treasure chests’, not gold ingots or coins, but actually snuff boxes. In addition there are two more relatives also search for the ‘gold’.

I thought it sounded good, but I have to say that I was rather disappointed by the slightness of this short story. Their uncle has left cryptic clues leading to the ‘chests’ and a couple of sketch maps to guide them to the treasure. But I had no idea what the clues mean and could only read Fenella’s exclamations when they work it out and find the little snuff boxes. Oh, there is also a murder – one of the other relatives is bashed on the head by the other one and left to die.

It’s quite an entertaining little story, but I much prefer Agatha Christie’s full length books.

Short Stories on Sunday

Over several years I’ve been reading my way through Agatha Christie’s books and short stories. I’ve read all her detective/mystery novels and some of her short story collections. In an attempt to read more of the short stories I’ve decided to read some each Sunday, beginning with the stories collected in Miss Marple and Mystery.

IMG_20180513_095855842.jpgThis collection contains 55 stories, 20 of them featuring Miss Marple. 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!

I’ve read some of these in other short story collections but there are still many I haven’t read.

The Girl in the Train is one I haven’t read before. It was first published in Grand Magazine in February 1924 and was adapted as one of the Agatha Christie Hour drama series for by Thames Television in 1982 as part of their ten-part programme. It’s a very short story that also appears in The Listerdale Mystery collection of short stories.

George Rowland is the heir to his Uncle William’s wealth but is left without a job or a home when William throws him out on his heel. On a whim George Rowland decides to catch a train down to Rowland’s Castle, a village which happens to bear his name. A beautiful girl bursts into his compartment, frantically begging to be hidden.  She gives him a package saying it is the key to everything and he is to guard it with his life. Jumping out of the train at the first stop she tells him to follow the little man with a small dark beard getting on the train. His life changes dramatically as he follows her instructions.

It’s a bit of nonsense really, in the same vein as Christie’s Tommy and Tuppence stories. A quick easy read, but entertaining nevertheless and possibly the first of books entitled The Girl …