Did I already label some other book as my favorite Christie? Oh well, that was a lie, this is my REAL favorite Christie.
This is a really unusual Christie in format. It’s a past/present mystery, which she likes doing a lot, that’s not super new. There’s a new murder that happens in the present and it makes everyone dig into and tell stories about the past. This book adds on to that by having varying perspectives on both past and present. And the final thing, the actual “mystery” is kind of unimportant. Like, it’s got the typical Christie “it is very simple once you work it out, they simply did blah blah blah” solution, but what’s far more important is the emotional resolution of the past issues that are lingering into the present.
Now, I am going to spoil the whole thing! In the past, a beautiful woman Rosemary was killed while in the midst of a love quadrangle. There was her boring husband, her dashing charming suitor, and her passionate mad secret affair with a politician. Now, in the present day, her boring husband is still dealing with his mixed emotions over the death of a wife he knew never really loved him, the charming suitor has re-appeared and is courting her little sister who isn’t quite sure he really loves her, and the politician deeply regrets the affair and is still afraid his wife will find out.
The solution to the mystery doesn’t really matter, ultimately the solution is “it was done by characters we don’t really care about for reasons that don’t really matter”. What matters is this idea of the past blurring into the present because the issues were not fully resolved. At the end of the book, Rosemary’s little sister says that she is now aware that Rosemary’s spirit has been watching over them, sensed that things were incomplete, and came back not as an evil ghost haunting them but as a protective spirit trying to bring a happy ending.
Okay, now important discussion questions!
Who is the most interesting female character? Efficient secretary Ruth, pure Iris, scary intense Sandra, beautiful Rosemary?
I actually find Ruth the LEAST interesting. The whole “efficient emotionless facade hides passion” is sort of blah. Next least interesting, tragically, is Iris. She is so dull that it almost feels on purpose, which in itself is sort of interesting. That Anthony Browne, super cool dude, falls for her just because he falls for her, this simple sweet nice young woman. Sandra is my second most interesting choice, the whole late reveal that she knew everything her husband was hiding from her all along and didn’t care (he married her for position, he had an affair, etc. etc.) is fascinating. But it’s Rosemary who, in the end, I find most interesting! She is dismissed as pretty and silly and spoiled. And then we end with the concept that her spirit was living around to protect all of them, wanting to protect her little sister who had almost forgotten her.
Who is the most interesting male character? Mysterious Anthony, ambitious Stephen, troubled George?
Ambitious Stephen is a little interesting because of that whole “I liked my whole life, but actually it was the truth I was just afraid to admit it to myself” thing. Troubled George I find slightly more interesting just as a character, the idea that he is this very boring straight forward person who is struggling to handle an unusual idea for the first time in his life, that’s something we don’t usually see. But Anthony I find MOST interesting! Not for his exciting spy past, but for his dull present. To have someone who traveled the world and was all DANGEROUS and all that, and then he just wants to marry a nice young woman from a good family and settle down is super interesting.
Was the solution to the mystery too lame or will you allow it?
The “character who has been mentioned twice was secretly there in disguise” was SUPER lame. But on the other hand, the “it was all about Iris in the end” was cool. In a feminist/social kind of way even, both Rosemary and Iris were only seen in relationship to the men around them. But actually it was about their money and the inheritance between the two sisters, not George, not Anthony, not Stephen, none of that.
Final question, how cool was the line “I felt like Romeo remembering Rosalind when seeing Juliet”?
Not sure if I got it word for word correct, but HOW FREAKIN’ COOL IS THAT LINE????
And finally, CASTING!!!!
Anthony Browne: Sid M
George: Anil Kapoor
Stephen: Ajay Devgan.