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Last week, I published a review of The Secret Adversary on Thursday so that I could write about the ceremonies surrounding the death of Queen Elizabeth on Friday. Tina read Alice in Wonderland and made a dish inspired from the book — a fun project from Cook the Books. Helen of She Reads Novels joined us with a review of a novel set during the War of the Roses, Hawker and the King’s Jewel by Ethan Bale.
The Secret Adversary that I wrote about last week was Agatha Christie’s second book, published 100 years ago.
This week, I wanted to honor the 50th anniversary book, the one published in 1972. That was Elephants Can Remember, a Hercule Poirot book. I overscheduled my reading in 2022. Instead of reading the book, I watched the version from the TV series where David Suchet starred as Poirot. It’s available to stream through BritBox, which we get as an add-on to our Amazon Prime.
Elephants Can Remember was the first episode in the final season, Series 13, of Agatha Christie’s Poirot. It originally aired in 2013 and I probably saw it then.
I remembered some of the settings, particularly Poirot meeting with author Ariadne Oliver (a recurring character in the Poirot series) in his Art Deco apartment. I even remember that I looked up the building that they used for the exterior shots, Florin Court in London.
I also remembered the seascape with white cliffs as viewed from the country house where two deaths occurred. Those two deaths occurred many years ago, which is why Poirot and Oliver need to find people with the memories of elephants to establish the clues to solve the mystery.
Fortunately, I don’t have the memory of an elephant, so the plot wasn’t at all spoiled for me as I watched it a second time.
A substantial subplot was added to the TV version so that Poirot could solve a current mystery while also looking into past one, adding more immediacy to the story for television viewers. I liked that plot, so I may have made the right choice in watching the show instead of reading the book.
As I mentioned last year, when I reviewed the TV series Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple, Christie wrote contemporary novels. She never worried about the logistical difficulties of aging characters. Hercule Poirot was an accomplished, middle-aged detective in the first book, The Mysterious Affair at Styles, set during The Great War. He remained an accomplished, middle-aged detective 51 year later when Elephants Can Remember was published.
The producers of TV series, of course, do worry about that kind of logistics. The Miss Marple series that I watched last year made a choice that I thought worked well — set all the stories in the 1950s, far enough back to summon the nostalgia that I associate with a Christie novel. Agatha Christie’s Poirot makes a similar choice, setting all the episodes of the series in the 1930s.
Have you read the book or seen the TV show? What did you think?