Agatha Christie is a well-loved author who wrote 66 novels, selling over a billion copies. Her website shares that she is the “best -selling novelist of all time”. Somehow, despite my habit of reading, I had never read an Agatha Christie novel and was inspired after reading The High Mountains of Portugal, by Yann Martel, which has a character enthralled by thee mystery novels. I borrowed an audio version and have enjoyed And Then There Were None during my commutes this week.
The writing keeps the reader guessing until the end. This book starts with 10 guests being invited to an island by a mysterious host. None of the guests know each other and when they arrive, the host is curiously absent. The island is named Soldier Island and each room has a copy of the following childhood poem Ten Little Soldier Boys:
Ten little soldier boys went out to dine; One choked his little self and then there were Nine.
Nine little soldier boys sat up very late; One overslept himself and then there were Eight.
Eight little soldier boys traveling in Devon; One said he’d stay there and then there were Seven.
Seven little soldier boys chopping up sticks; One chopped himself in halves and then there were Six.
Six little soldier boys playing with a hive; A bee stung one and then there were Five.
Five little soldier boys going in for law; One got into chancery and then there were Four.
Four little soldier boys going out to sea; A red herring swallowed one and then there were Three.
Three little soldier boys walking in the Zoo; A big bear hugged one and then there were Two.
Two little soldier boys sitting in the sun; One got frizzled up and then there was One.
One little soldier boy left all alone; He went and hanged himself
And then there were None.
—Frank Green, 1879
A display of 10 soldiers was displayed on the dining table and the remaining guests realize that one ceramic soldier disappears as a guest is killed. After enjoying this novel, I was curious about the author. Her website shares a number of interesting facts:
- Even though her mother did not wish her to learn to read until she was 8, she was bored and taught herself to read.
- She provided nursing care during WWI
- During a time of marital problems she disappeared, leaving her car on the side of the road. When found in a hotel, she did not recognize her husband and later refused to speak of that time.
- Christie wrote her first book as a challenge from her sister which waited 5 years to be published after being rejected by 6 publishers.
- She started wrote 2 or 3 books each year.
- She died peacefully in 1976.
- Her favorite of her works was The Witness for the Prosecution and coincidentally this movie started filming this week – for a Canadian connection, actress Kim Catrell is a member of the cast.
I enjoyed my first Agatha Christie novel and can’t share much more about the book in an effort to avoid spoilers. Each time I arrived at my destination, I have to admit that I was not quite ready to turn off the car as I just wanted to keep listening! Even though mysteries are not my favourite, I will plan on reading more Agatha Christie.