Welcome to British Isles Friday! British Isles Friday is a weekly event for sharing all things British and Irish — reviews, photos, opinions, trip reports, guides, links, resources, personal stories, interviews, and research posts. Join us each Friday to link your British and Irish themed content and to see what others have to share. The link list is at the bottom of this post. Pour a cup of tea or lift a pint and join our link party!
Last week, I enjoyed the documentary that David Suchet, who portrayed Poirot on TV, hosted about Agatha Christie’s life: The Mystery of Agatha Christie.
Book: The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie
Publisher: William Morrow
Publication date: 2009 (originally 1921)
Source: ebook borrowed from the library
Summary: The Mysterious Affair at Styles is Agatha Christie’s first published novel and the first of the long-running series of novels that feature her Belgian detective, Hercule Poirot. It took several years to get her first book published, so The Mysterious Affair at Styles is set during the time she wrote it — World War I.
Hastings, recovering from a war injury, is delighted to receive an invitation from a childhood friend to a country home that he visited in his youth. In this book, Hastings is given neither a rank nor a first name. It’s only from later stories that we know him as Captain Arthur Hastings.
Hastings is doubly delighted to discover that the famous detective, Hercule Poirot, has been evacuated from Belgium and is staying with other Belgian refugees in the village near Styles. Hastings met Poirot during his war service and became fascinated with the idea of detecting and deducing to solve the puzzles of crime.
The presence of Poirot in the village becomes fortuitous when one of the residents of Styles dies in mysterious circumstances.
Thoughts: According to the introduction of this edition, by John Curran, Agatha Christie’s first novel was serialized in the Weekly Times in 1920 and finally went on sale as a book in the UK on January 21, 1921. I wanted to read it in the 100th anniversary year because of something said in one of the documentaries that I watched recently. Agatha Christie wrote contemporary novels. Reading a book on its 100th anniversary is a glimpse 100 years into the past.
I thought about setting a goal to read each of her novels during the 100th anniversary year, but then I realized that would require me to live to age 111 — and still be reading and blogging. If you’re younger than me, feel free to steal that idea.
I enjoyed the mystery (which I didn’t solve before the final reveal in the drawing room), the amusing interactions between Hastings and Poirot, and the glimpses of the dispensary (since I know that Christie worked in a pharmaceutical dispensary during World War I).
Appeal: The country house and its accompanying village will be a draw to my fellow British enthusiasts. I also enjoyed the trappings of English murder mysteries — the inquest, the inspector called in from Scotland Yard, and the very English expectations voiced by Hastings about fair play and how things are properly done.
Have you read this book? What did you think?
Agatha Christie has become a bit of a theme of my 2021 R.eader’s I.mbibing P.eril, RIP XVI.
I watched three documentaries — The Mystery of Agatha Christie for last week and a couple of more recent documentaries to celebrate Christie’s September birthday. I read Nemesis, the Miss Marple novel published 50 years ago. And, now I’ve read Agatha Christie’s very first novel. Can I keep this theme going another week?