The Secret Adversary #BookReview #FilmReview #BriFri #RIPXVII
Book: The Secret Adversary by Agatha Christie
Publisher: Duke Classics
Publication date: 2012 (originally 1922)
Source: Borrowed ebook from the library
Summary: Last year, for RIPXVI, I read Agatha Christie’s first book, The Mysterious Affair at Styles, on the 100th anniversary of its publication. This year, I read her second book, The Secret Adversary, on the 100th anniversary of its publication.
The Mysterious Affair at Styles introduced the beloved Hercule Poirot.
The Secret Adversary began a lesser-known series of books by Agatha Christie — the Tuppence and Tommy books.
The Secret Adversary is less mystery and more adventure novel. In fact, in modern times, it might be considered YA since Tuppence is a young woman and Tommy is her equally young friend. Although, they are both veterans of World War I, so it’s mostly that their hare-brained schemes and blithe approach to adventure makes them seem more like teenagers. They must be at least a decade older than their late teens.
In The Secret Adversary, Tuppence and Tommy encounter each other when they are both skint. Together, they hatch a plot to make money by advertising to perform any service, “no unreasonable offer refused.”
Thoughts: The bad guys in The Secret Adversary are Bolsheviks.
That annoyed me. As I mentioned in my review of The Diamond Eye by Kate Quinn, I’ve started reading the three-volume biography of Eleanor Roosevelt. In the 1920s, right as this book was written, she and her friends who worked to improve the lives of women were accused of Bolshevism. In The Secret Adversary, the Bolsheviks were said to be aligned with the Labor movement in England. In the last few months, I’ve been called Marxist or Communist while holding a sign that said Black Lives Matter.
After a hundred years, it seems to me that it’s time to change the red-baiting strategy. Instead of fretting about whether feminists, civil rights activists, and union organizers are Communists, how about if we fix the ways that capitalism fails women, people of color, and working people? If capitalism worked better, we wouldn’t have to worry about people seeking out an alternative.
TV Film: The Secret Adversary was made into a film for television in 1983 that’s available to stream on Amazon Prime. This version downplays the Bolsheviks, to some degree. Otherwise, it’s pretty faithful to the book. I enjoyed both, but I’m not entirely sure that I would have followed the plot of the film, if I hadn’t just read the book.
Appeal: Agatha Christie kept returning to Tommy and Tuppence, even though that series of books was much less well-known than Hercule Poirot or Miss Marple and had many fewer stories. Given my current fascination with World War II, I might enjoy the next novel, N or M? — it was published in 1941 and involves rooting out German spies on British soil. If you like stories set in the interwar period, The Secret Adversary might appeal to you.
Challenges and Events: I’ll share this tomorrow with British Isles Friday. I originally had this post scheduled for Friday, but it got bumped so that I can write about Queen Elizabeth tomorrow.
Participants of the Historical Fiction Reading Challenge will enjoy the setting of 100 years ago presented in all the authenticity of someone who was writing contemporary novels at that time.
Have you read this book? What did you think?
I love Tommy and Tuppence but don’t think I ever objected to the “bad guy” Bolsheviks. I don’t think I ever saw a movie but I seem to recall a miniseries on PBS a long time ago.
Christie and Patricia Wentworth often feature insouciant heroines like Tuppence who I find very appealing.
Re historical fiction, my all time favorite series is the Williamsburg Novels by Elswyth Thane. You could skip to the WWII ones but I’d recommend starting with Dawn’s Early Light, set during the Revolutionary War.
I remember the Williamsburg novels! I loved them in high school. It would be fun to re-read them.
This is an Agatha Christie novel I haven’t heard of before.
Thanks for sharing this review with the Historical Fiction Reading Challenge