Within a Wall

  • Short Story
  • 1925

Painter, Alan Everard, realises that his most brilliant work is not the portrait of his society girl wife, but rather a sketch of his daughter's godmother, the quiet and honest, Jane Haworth. From While the Light Lasts and The Harlequin Tea Set and Other Stories.

More about this story

Alan Everard, a successful modernist painter, is married to the beautiful society girl Isobel Loring who eagerly promotes her husband’s work. At one of her tea parties, to which she invites the London art critics, she unveils her husband’s latest masterpiece, a portrait of herself but Alan realises the picture is lifeless. However a sketch he has done of his daughter's godmother, Jane Haworth, is full of life and honesty. Alan soon discovers that the real contribution Jane has made to their life is not just her artistic judgement.

This story uses one of the common themes in Agatha Christie’s work – the eternal triangle. Although a commonplace theme for many authors, Christie manages to use this motif as one of her strategies of deception, tricking readers into misdirecting their sympathy, (and suspicions) by playing on their expectations, as she does in novels such as Death on the Nile and Evil Under the Sun.

It was published in the 1997 collections While the Light Lasts and Other Stories (UK) and also in The Harlequin Tea Set and Other Stories (US).

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