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June 05, 2011

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Jaclyn

1. I can't remember if this is the first Christie short story I've read (I also listened to the audiobook of The Labours of Hercules, and can't remember which came first), but certainly the first Marple short story. My very first Marple, however, was The Body in the Library.

2. Since I'd read The Body in the Library first, I did find it surprising how she is treated here. I have to admit, I got really angry at how dismissive Raymond was being, especially since Marple always seems so loving towards him. Then again, that's Marple's signature style as a detective, right? She's the gentle old lady who no one suspects actually observes everything around her.

3. Yes, except from the story and my experience at a mystery dinner theatre, I've discovered how bad I am at solving mysteries. :p The unsolved mysteries structure actually reminds me of the Encyclopedia Brown mysteries I read (and loved!) as a kid. They always hinged on the tiniest and, at times, seemingly most random detail, and it's up to the reader to recognize it.

Hmmm... Perhaps an idea for a future Agatha Christie read-along? Read all the way till the big reveal, then see if you can guess who did it? :)

4. I've always preferred Poirot. I love his little quirks and his arrogance, but I have to admit, what really keeps me a major Poirot fan is David Suchet's charming portrayal of him on TV. I love his relationships with Hastings, Miss Lemon and Inspector Japp, and remember feeling disappointed when I started reading more Poirot and finding that the three don't feature as prominently as in the TV show.

5. I love the way Christie introduces Marple. The whole image is of a gentle, benevolent, yet observant old lady; Christie gives us exactly who Marple is in only a few lines by showing us how others perceive her, and how she perceives others.

The image of Marple knitting already makes us think of a nice grandmotherly figure. Then Christie shifts to Marple looking at everyone else, but it isn't the steely eyed glare you'd expect from a detective. Marple's gaze feels very relaxed, like she's just looking around and noticing her friends and feeling very content. Yet in her casual sweep of the room, she already notices lots of details about the other people in the room, which shows us the skills of observation that make her such a good detective. I love how Christie then returns it to Marple knitting with "a gentle smile," like she's back to being the benevolent grandmother.

6. No, and I was so confident of my guess too. :( And yes, I had to read the story again to figure out how I could've missed those clues. :/

Katie

I'm new to Miss Marple, but I had finished Murder at the Vicarage the day before I read this story - so I wasn't surprised that no one took much notice of Miss Marple. I think that's part of her charm.

I rarely can guess the criminal in these cases - despite reading lots of Encyclopedia Brown, Nancy Drew and Trixie Belden as a child. I always seem to miss the critical detail. But I love the way Miss Marple notices everything. Most crimes hinge on small details.

So excited for the rest of the read-along!

SuziQoregon

1. This was a lot of fun for me. I've never read any Agatha Christie so knowing that this is the introduction of Miss Marple made it a very enjoyable introduction to both of them.

2. I wasn't as surprised at how she was pretty much dismissed by the others because I knew going in that it was her debut.

3. I'm pretty much a book club dropout, so I'm not sure I'd pursue a mystery club, but I do know I'm going to read more of the Tuesday Night Club stories.

4. This is my first Christie so I don't 'know' Poirot yet.

5. I think it's an effective way to set her up right off the bat as an observer.

6. I was pretty sure who the culprit was, but I also had to look up a few new to me terms along the way such as 'corn-flour' and 'banting'. I also didn't pick up on the Hundreds and Thousands either.

ChrisH

Not having read any Agatha Christie for many years, I recently embarked on a 'Marplefest' after buying an omnibus edition of four novels in one charity shop and a copy of The Murder at the Vicarage in another, and I was surprised at how much fluffier Miss Marple is than I remembered, and I was surprised again on reading the Tuesday Night Club to see how fully formed her character is right from the outset. That first view of her never changes - she remains a benignant presence, quiet, elderly, white-haired, with innocent blue eyes, concentrating on her knitting or crochet. But her appearance belies her keen intelligence and astute observational powers, which is important because it means people find her unthreatening , so they talk to her, and she can melt into the background, seeing and hearing what goes on around her. As the books progress her friends and family value her abilities while police, who are initially sceptical, come to acknowledge her skill, but she remains humble. She seems to see a crime as a puzzle to be solved, and there's a touch of humour there, as well as warmth and humanity.

Julie P.

1) I thought this was the first Christie short story that I've read, but my middle school did THREE BLIND MICE for our school play! Just realized that!

2) Knowing what I know now, I thought it was a bit funny. They weren't even going to include her in their group. But keep in mind the time, she was a woman and an elderly one at that. Probably not unusual to be discounted.

3) I'm afraid I wouldn't be very good at it, but if you think about it, we do stuff like that all the time. We toss around ideas about things we can't figure out -- especially among friends.

4) At this point, I don't have a preference. I've probably read more Poirot. I figure I can reassess at the end of our read-along.

5) I thought it was very interesting. I can see this little older lady looking like she's half listening and half knitting. I love that she took everything in..... Never underestimate!

6) I missed it -- no surprise there. And yes, I did go back to catch the clues. I liked the short story format because I'm less likely to go back and skim through an entire novel.

Jen - Devourer of Books

1. This was my first Miss Marple/Agatha Christie short story, I can see now that I'm really going to be in for a treat with that readalong!

2. Not realizing this was the first story, I initially thought they were saying she wouldn't want to play because she would be too good for them, or something of that nature. I was sort of confused when I realized that wasn't it at all, I'm glad you clarified that it was THE first Miss Marple story.

3. Only in books! I can't wait to get to discuss with people what they figured out and when in Christie's crafty stories!

4. I've only read her standalones before this story, so I have no preference.


6. Ha! No! Of course, I've never, ever heard of hundreds and thousands before, so I suppose I couldn't have been expected to put that part together.

carol

1. I've been reading Christie since like junior high, so I assume I've read one of her short stories before.

2. No, I wasn't surprised they dismissed her. I think that's part of her charm. You don't expect her to know as much as she does.

3. Not really. I'm no good at solving mysteries, even when the authors lay all the clues right out in front of me.

4. When I was younger, I much preferred Poirot, but now I'm kind of on the fence. I like them both.

5. I guess it makes you aware of how observant she is.

6. No, I didn't guess, but I don't really try to either.

Kay

1. No, it was not. I am a great lover of Jane Marple. I've read Agatha Christie's books for over 30 years, some of them over and over. Miss Marple is my favorite of her sleuths, although I do have a fondness for Hercule Poirot and also some other characters.
2. It's been so long since I first read about Miss Marple, I probably was surprised. I know that I had heard of her prowess and thought the others were being polite to her, while still thinking that she would outwit them all. They learned though! LOL
3. That phrase "unsolved mysteries" is rather spooky in a way - I listened to these stories in audio once - Joan Hickson, who played Miss Marple in many film adaptations narrated. She was the perfect Miss Marple and she had a way of saying "unsolved mysteries" very slowly. Positively chilling. :-)
4. Yes, I do love Miss Marple best, but I have several Poirot tales that are dear to my heart.
5. Well, she is setting the stage for us to see her as this fragile, delicate, fluffy little old lady - with a mind like a steel trap! I wouldn't ever want to try to hide something from her. Many try - no one succeeds! LOL
6. Oh, I didn't solve the mystery here in my original reading. I don't think I ever solved a Christie mystery on first reading. I always enjoyed going back and seeing the clues - and they are there - she gives you all you need to know, if you know where to look.

Looking forward to all the discussions of AC's work. Three Blind Mice will be good. It was a long, long, long running play and I would be willing to send a free book to anyone who guess the murderer in that one. Ha! Ha! Ha!

Jennifer Lowe

1. I can't remember which Miss Marple I first read. I have been reading Agatha Christie for over 20 years, so it's hard to recall.
2. I both am and am not surprised at how those who should know better treat Miss Marple. I know it is the set-up for the stories that she be dismissed and yet I am incredulous that anyone who has seen her at work would be dismissive of her.
3. I guess the words unsolved mysteries didn't make much of an impact on me during this reading, but I knew already what the conceit of this collection was. I would also like to piggyback on something Kay (a previous commenter) said: the audio recordings by Joan Hickson are brilliant and not to be missed.
4. Like Carol, I used to be mainly a Poirot fan, but I've come around to Miss Marple much more of late. She reminds me of real people, which Hercule Poirot does not. On a related note, I am always startled when an AC fan turns out to like Tommy and Tuppence best, rather than HP or Miss Marple. I sort of forget there is a choice for favorite other than the two main main characters.
5. I love this description of Miss Marple. It really sets up all of the other stories. But in this story specifically, it is setting a trap for the readers. We (unless we know better) automatically dismiss her as a fluffy knitter. Fluffy knitters clearly know nothing about crime. HA!
6. I didn't try to solve it. I just enjoyed being along for the ride.

I am really enjoying this book discussion and look forward to the future discussions.

JennyLPoole

1. Have read some of the stories, books & a biography of AC. Big huge fan of the PBS movies!

2. I remember AC saying she wanted a character who could fly under the radar and see everything. She found that character in a dear old lady. However, it is daunting the way she is dimissed in her own home.

3. Love unsolved mysteries and true crime (unapologetically) and discuss the subject many times a week with friends and family.

4. Love both Marple and Poirot equally!

5. It made me think of Queen Victoria in her later years. Not at all how I usually think of spry Ms. Marple.

6. No. To be honest, I never really try. I enjoy the story so much that usually allow the writer to take me where they are going. It is wonderful to reach the conclusion; and then, think through the entire story for clues though!

CombsKimberly

My first AC book I read was Sleeping Murder. I was in the fourth grade waiting for with my mom for the dr. Scared silly, so I picked up a magazine, and as they say the rest is history. I started collecting her books then. Everywhere I went I would look for her books. I found a very hard to get in the US in Canada when I was 18.
Miss Marple is my favorite. So unassuming, but so so intuitive.

CombsKimberly

I honestly never solve the crime when it comes to AC's books. But I love how that is ok. We read Curtains at our last book club, and some of the ladies had never read an AC book, and found them a little boring. That is what is wrong with books nowadays, they have to have the gore and unimaginable crimes to get noticed. Well for me, it takes a lot more savy to write a book such as AC's than some of the newer novels. If one looks at Agatha's life they develop a deep appreciation for her writing. She was a class act all the way.

CombsKimberly

I agree with Jenny, it is nice just to read the book then to think back through the entire book and the hints a clues. I always tell myself I am going to remember that process for the next AC I read! But do I, no, I just get caught up in the story.

Ariel

1. This was the first Agatha Christie that Ive read though I did catch Murder On the Orient Express on TV the other week which really made me want to join this challenge.
2. No one ever suspects the little old lady of having anything going on in her head, I learned that from watching PBS. Life experience can be more important than book learning and I think the people around Miss Marple have forgotten that.
3. I love a good unsolved mystery and truth can be stranger than fiction.
4. I will have to participate more in the challenge to make my mind up about that one.
5. I think she is letting us know that there is more to Miss Marple than meets the eye.
6. Forget about it, I don't have enough life experience to try and keep up with Miss Marple.
I am so enjoying this challenge, can't wait to see what else awaits.

Nancy

I am two days late to the discussion, but I wanted to join in for funsies.

1. My mom was a big reader of AC; I read everything she had. I believe that Murder at the Vicarage was the first Miss Marple I read. I was hooked.

2. I wasn't so much surprised as annoyed at how most people treat Miss Marple- either as not knowing anything to being a horrid gossip.

3. I always wanted to be one of the Bobbsy Twins, Trixie Belden, Nancy Drew, Miss Marple... While I love reading about mysteries, I would be a lousy detective myself.

4. It's a classic question, but it's so hard to choose. I love both characters. Why choose?

5. I think it was a smart way to introduce Miss Marple. Who would suspect that the fluffy old lady would go on to solve all the crimes?

6. I always go back to find the clues I missed!

absenelve

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