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Book of the Month

Read Christie 2019

Welcome back to Read Christie 2019, the Agatha Christie reading challenge. To join us, subscribe to the Agatha Christie newsletter and download our 2019 reading list. You can share your choices for the year using #ReadChristie2019. For further details about the challenge, see below. 

This month, we’re getting stuck into a less conventional Christie. In fact, when this book was published in 1933, it wasn’t an Agatha Christie story at all! That’s right, we’re reading Mary Westmacott’s Giant’s Bread this month. As we traditionally celebrate love in February, we thought it was the perfect time to choose one of her stories about passion – you won’t be disappointed.

To be in love with Jane might be a whole-time job.
Sebastian, Giant’s Bread

What’s it about? 

A young child called Vernon, who grows up at the country manor of Abbots Puissants. Learning to navigate an adult-centric world, we share Vernon's passions and fears (the piano - aka The Beast), uncover his father's indiscretions and meet his childhood friends, Sebastian and Joe. Divided into five parts, the story follows these three and their love interests, giving the reader insight into each character as they attempt to determine their correct course in life, with ample advice from friends and family to consider. 

Sebastian, a passionate lover of music, is determined to encourage Vernon's musical talents. Vernon, pre-occupied initially with thoughts of marriage, is latterly consumed by his art, as he attempts to redefine the operatic form. Joe, who decided from a young age not to 'lose her head over a man', disregards social convention and seeks a match based on love.

Will questions of money, inheritance and honour thwart their youthful ambitions? Can their friendships withstand the strain?

Why do we love it? 

A story of ambition, music, passion and sacrifice, this captivating narrative grows as the lives of the subjects do. Unlike anything Christie's crime readers will have seen before, this is the perfect introduction to her Westmacott novels. Expect feuding families, marriages of (in)convenience, and a healthy dose of artistic temperaments.

January

Welcome to our brand new reading challenge: Read Christie 2019

We can’t wait to read along with you this year, and have provided a brand new checklist to help prompt your Christie story exploration. The themes include ‘A Miss Marple story’, ‘A late work’, ‘A seasonal story’ and plenty more. You can choose to read the 12 stories we select, mix and match with some of ours, or select 12 of your very own. The 12 can be complete novels or individual short stories, and can include any audio adaptations you listen to too. 

To download your checklist, simply sign up to our monthly newsletter and you’ll receive a printable version straight to your inbox. The postcard will allow you to track your progress, the titles you choose, and to rate each one out of five. Already a subscriber? There’s a link to download the list at the bottom of this article. Don’t forget to share your lists, progress and thoughts with us on social media, using #ReadChristie2019. 

So, on to our first choice… 

After the UK premiere got everyone talking this Christmas, we thought it was the only choice to kick off our 2019 reading challenge. So here it is – we’re reading a recent screen adaption, The ABC Murders this month.

What’s it about? 

The ABC Murders begins with a jibing letter to Hercule Poirot, signed A B C.

“You fancy yourself, don’t you, at solving mysteries that are too difficult for our poor thick-headed British police?”

 As A B C’s first victim, Mrs Alice Ascher is found dead in her tobacconist at Andover, the detective claims that ‘This is the beginning’, and he’s right. As the killer taunts Poirot by post, they continue to murder victims according to the letters of the alphabet, leaving an A B C railway guide at the scene of the crime – a seemingly impenetrable clue. 

Searching for ways to link the murders, Poirot must travel the country with help from his companion, Captain Hastings. Working to prevent the murderer reaching Z, are a host of Scotland Yard officials, including Inspector Crome, who is keen to look at the psychology of the perpetrator. The letters could provide ample insight into the killer’s motives, but can they afford to wait for another one… 

Initially told by Hastings, the story is occasionally interrupted by the narrative of a Mr Alexander Bonaparte Cust, a travelling salesman who suffers from black-outs and memory loss. 

Why do we love it?

Fast-paced and expansive, this story stands out in the Christie canon. Reading (or re-reading) the book reminds us that Agatha Christie didn’t adhere to convention, or to the genre known as cosy crime. A fascinating read. 
 
The ABC Murders is currently available on BBC iPlayer. It is available in the US on Amazon Prime Video

Find out more about The ABC Murders (TV Show)

Download the Read Christie 2019 postcard

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