Reading Lists

Christie’s Celebrated Women

L Inline Christie Women Marple
Miss Marple has captured fans hearts since 1930

Between 1920 and the 1970s, Christie created an array of adventurous, independent and inspiring women. We share a few of our favourites, and the stories to discover them in.

Miss Marple

A list of our favourite Christie characters just wouldn’t be complete without Miss Marple. In Miss Marple, Christie shows that looks can be deceiving. Many dismiss the elderly sleuth, but Marple’s unique method of detection leads her to solve crimes that baffle respected police investigators. An elderly spinster often overlooked and underestimated by society, resolving crimes that experts cannot. The humble Christie never expected any of her characters to become world famous but since the publication of The Murder at the Vicarage in 1930, Marple's first full-length novel, readers were hooked.

What to read: The Body in the Library, A Murder is Announced

Tuppence Beresford

Tuppence Beresford was introduced early in the Christie canon, in 1922, but the author also returned to her as late as 1973. She stars in four novels, and a short story collection too. Tuppence always appears alongside her ‘partner in crime’, Tommy, who becomes her fiancé by the end of their first book. They set up the ‘Young Adventurers Ltd,’ advertising their services in The Times with the advert, ‘Willing to do anything, go anywhere. Pay must be good. No unreasonable offer refused.’ Tuppence often leads the way with her impetuous, charismatic nature while Tommy’s slow, considered manner provides the perfect foil.

What to read: The Secret Adversary, Partners in Crime

Anne Beddingfeld

Christie channels her inner adventurer through a character from one of her first novels, The Man in the Brown Suit. Meet Anne Beddingfeld, or as she calls herself, Anna the Adventuress. Rejecting a marriage proposal that offers her safety and comfort, Anne heads to London seeking adventure. Adventure immediately finds her and soon enough Anne becomes entangled in a web of intrigue which sees her head to South Africa in search of the truth.

What to read: The Man in the Brown Suit

Eileen 'Bundle' Brent

Another early addition to the thrill-seeking young women of Christie’s books, Bundle Brent lives at the imposing Chimneys manor house with her father, Lord Caterham. She is part of the society set of bright young things, loves to drive fast cars, and “doesn’t let the grass grow under her feet.”
Her best moments come in The Seven Dials Mystery, when she develops a friendship with Superintendent Battle, and gets mixed up in the nefarious goings on of the criminal underworld.

What to read: The Secret of Chimneys, The Seven Dials Mystery

Miss Lemon

Poirot’s unflappable, ever-dependable secretary, Felicity Lemon initially started out working for Parker Pyne before crossing the canon to join the Belgian detective, making her first appearance as his confidential secretary in the short story ‘How Does Your Garden Grow?’. She is incredibly efficient (“the most efficient woman that ever lived”), dispassionate, and displays little interest in Poirot’s cases other than the best way to file them – in fact, at night she even dreams of a faultless filing system. She is “very nearly the perfect machine”, running Poirot’s life with order and method. He trusts her implicitly, and admires her instincts.

What to read: Parker Pyne Investigates, Poirot's Early Cases

Caroline Hubbard

Mrs Hubbard is the embodiment of the archetypal, loud American matriarch, who boards the Orient Express in Istanbul after visiting her daughter in Smyrna. Widowed and semi-independent, she is, rather unusually, travelling unaccompanied through Europe towards Paris. Her over-the-top personality and talkative nature keep the conversation with fellow passengers flowing, but her egocentricity causes annoyances on the journey. Christie based the character on a woman she met on board the luxury train.

What to read: Murder on the Orient Express

Lucy Eyelesbarrow

Lucy Eyelesbarrow is arguably the most modern and practical of all Christie’s female characters. Despite getting a First in Maths at Oxford University and facing a successful academic career, Lucy decided to pursue her fortune in an unexpectedly shrewd way. Spotting a potentially lucrative gap in the market for skilled domestic help, she set herself up as an indispensable addition to household management, and as a result was very much in demand and extremely well paid.

Lucy met Miss Marple when she helped her recover from pneumonia. Two years later, the elderly lady called upon Lucy to be her eyes and ears when she suspected a body had been thrown off a train. Naturally, efficient Lucy did what needed to be done, and amusingly received plenty of romantic interest along the way.

What to read: 4:50 From Paddington

Victoria Jones

Victoria Jones bursts onto the scene in They Came to Baghdad having just been fired from her typing job after mimicking her boss – who had, unfortunately for Victoria, been standing in the doorway behind her. She is an endearing and comical heroine who embodies the adventurous spirit, when she dashes off to Baghdad with no plans other than to find a man she fleetingly fell in love with.

When she stumbles into the dangerous world of a secret organisation, the result is an engaging and exciting story set in the exotic Middle East.

What to read: They Came to Baghdad

Ariadne Oliver

Esteemed crime writer and close friend of Hercule Poirot, Christie confessed that this beloved character had "a strong dash" of herself in her. She assists the Belgian detective in numerous cases, and also features in the spooky standalone The Pale Horse.

Not afraid to trust her instincts, Oliver is opinionated, funny and always happy to put her female intuition to work to solve a crime. She gives us an insight into life as a writer, and also shares her frustrations with her own writing creation, Finnish detective Sven Hjerson.

What to read: Dead Man's Folly, The Pale Horse

Countess Vera Rossakoff

Vera Rossakoff is an indomitable Russian countess that sweeps into Hercule Poirot’s life for the first time during the investigation of a jewellery robbery in the short story, The Double Clue. Poirot openly admits his admiration and fondness for this flamboyant and imaginative master thief, whom he describes as “a woman in a million”.

The countess is an interesting creation of Christie’s, being deeply involved as she is in organised crime. She appears face to face with Poirot on a further three occasions (including in a nightclub), once initially under an alias, and is the closest he has to a regular adversary; an interesting juxtaposition for the Belgian detective, for she also happens to be the only woman to have captured his heart. Their third and final encounter sees Poirot come to her aid amidst her continued dealings with the criminal underworld.

What to read: ‘The Double Clue’, ‘The Capture of Cerberus’

This feature was originally written to celebrate International Women’s Day, 8th March 2018

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