HomeGroupsTalkZeitgeist
Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

Agatha Christie's Secret Notebooks:…
Loading...

Agatha Christie's Secret Notebooks: Fifty Years of Mysteries in the… (original 2009; edition 2009)

by John Curran

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
277740,824 (3.72)28
Member:klpm
Title:Agatha Christie's Secret Notebooks: Fifty Years of Mysteries in the Making - Includes Two Unpublished Poirot Stories
Authors:John Curran
Info:HarperCollins Publishers Ltd (2009), Edition: 1St Edition, Hardcover, 480 pages
Collections:Your library, To read
Rating:
Tags:non-fiction, biography, detective

Work details

Agatha Christie's Secret Notebooks: Fifty Years of Mysteries in the Making by John Curran (2009)

Recently added byprivate library, QueenOfCrime
None

None.

Loading...

Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 28 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 7 (next | show all)
When I first got this book, for some reason the title led me to believe that it was simply a reproduction of Agatha's notebooks, with endnotes and footnotes galore explaining the various references, and the occasional "illegible" in square brackets for the parts that couldn't be deciphered. After all, I'd read collections of letters that worked in much the same way. However, Agatha's notebooks are not as straightforward as a collection of letters would be. Although they have been numbered, they are not chronological -- Agatha would pick up a notebook at random and scribble her ideas on the first blank page she came across. John Curran, the Christie estate's literary advisor, decided instead to synthesize the information in the notebooks, sorting her jottings by theme, with the occasional image of an actual page so you can see her handwriting. (Personally, I would have called this Secrets from Agatha Christie's Notebooks, to emphasize that the book is more of an analysis/discussion than a simple reproduction.)

Once I got used to it, I came to appreciate this approach. The idea of sorting by theme means you can really dip into and out of this one -- no need to read cover to cover. There are chapters on murder abroad, murder on transportation, the choice of titles, true crime stories and their influence on her writing, and much more. Curran transcribes interesting notes, decodes their abbreviations and provides context for notes about current events. He also very thoughtfully provides a list at the beginning of each chapter indicating which books will be discussed, so that if you haven't read a particular book, you can skip over that part of the chapter. (I had to skip a fair bit of the sections about Peril at End House, which I haven't read yet.)

It was really interesting to see how Agatha plotted. She changed character names a lot, apparently choosing "placeholder" names until she'd firmed up the outline of the story, which was the more important part. She would talk to herself on the paper, reminding herself of research to follow up on and reproving herself for continually bringing up ideas that she liked but consistently found unworkable. The notes themselves were also very informative---especially the ones about Sleeping Murder.

The book also includes a few sample pages from the Notebooks. It's thrilling to see Agatha's actual handwriting, but at the same time somewhat sobering when you compare her writing from the beginning and end of her career---the deterioration is noticeable. Another treat is two previously unpublished stories: "The Capture of Cerberus" (an alternative version of the short story from The Labours of Hercules) and "The Incident of the Dog's Ball", which was subsequently expanded into the novel Dumb Witness.

This book is heartily recommended for Christie fans. It will give you new insights into the Queen of Crime and will likely prompt a (re)reading spree as well. Enjoy! ( )
  rabbitprincess | Mar 19, 2014 |
Curran rambles and assumes savant-like knowledge of Christie's oeuvre, but what's here is fascinating, if not that well-organized. I was expecting more of a biography, I think; Curran is more interested in a critical approach, which is fine, but perhaps not as satisfying from a curiosity standpoint. Well worth reading, still. ( )
  upstairsgirl | Jan 29, 2014 |
Interesting find of how Christie decided on her plots and wrote her novels. If you haven't read her books don't use this book to learn about them because the plot is often given away. ( )
  tricia013101 | Mar 11, 2012 |
Here's an immediate warning: if you're not a real Agatha Christie fan, and by that I mean someone who's read and re-read at least three-quarters of her many books, then John Curran's new look into Christie's notebooks is not for you.

On the plus side, however, at this point there are still many of you right here with me. Such is the scope and depth of Christie's popularity!

John Curran, a Christie enthusiast and scholar, made a remarkable discovery: a cache of Christie's original hand-written notebooks in which she sketched out story ideas, plots and characters -- and grocery lists and doodles. He spends nearly 500 erudite and very well-written pages taking us through these notebooks, with frequent scanned excerpts included. The result is a fascinating archeological expedition for Christie fans.

Curran wisely makes no attempt to organize his explorations chronologically, since Christie worked seemingly almost at random at any given point in several notebooks at once, and would come back to them years later and add material. He therefore sets things out thematically, i.e. notes on stories with similar themes are discussed in discrete chapters, since it's on this track that we can best see highlighted the way in which Christie's mind worked, often expanding the genesis of an idea into a story, and then into a full-fledged novel.

Perhaps the most revealing and fascinating insight here is how Christie was in many ways the antithesis of her best-loved protagonist, i.e. one Hercule Poirot. Whereas for the latter all must be order assembled by the motions of the little grey cells, Christie's mind was a chaotic grab-bag of inspiration, sometimes futile stabs at organization, and outright detritus.

An added bonus here is the text of two heretofore unpublished Poirot short stories, including a fascinating variation on the final story of The Labours of Hercule Poirot.

I found this book good fun to read through, and well worth holding on to as a reference. ( )
3 vote mrtall | Aug 6, 2011 |
Showing 1-5 of 7 (next | show all)
Curran knows his subject backwards, but he's too much of a fan to be an objective critic.
 
For all its thoroughness, this book only skims the surface of her mysterious mind; which is no bad thing, perhaps
 
Evidence of the breadth of Christie's imagination can also be found in the tantalizing trails she left that never went anywhere. Curran tracks motifs and ideas that crop up again and again over many years but that were never realized in her published books.
 

» Add other authors (2 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Curran, Johnprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Christie, AgathaContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Prichard, MathewForewordsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Raitio, RistoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Series (with order)
Canonical title
Information from the Finnish Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
Original title
Information from the Finnish Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
Alternative titles
Original publication date
People/Characters
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
Epigraph
Dedication
Information from the Finnish Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
Josephille, Conorille, Francisille, Oisinille ja Lorcanille
First words
Quotations
Last words
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Blurbers
Publisher series
Original language

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English (4)

Book description
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0061988367, Hardcover)

A fascinating exploration of the contents of Agatha Christie's seventy-three private notebooks, including illustrations and two unpublished Poirot stories

When Agatha Christie died in 1976, at age eighty-five, she had become the world's most popular author. With sales of more than two billion copies worldwide, in more than one hundred countries, she had achieved the impossible—more than one book every year since the 1920s, every one a bestseller.

So prolific was Agatha Christie's output—sixty-six crime novels, twenty plays, six romance novels under a pseudonym and more than one hundred and fifty short stories—it was often claimed that she had a photographic memory. Was this true? Or did she resort over those fifty-five years to more mundane methods of working out her ingenious crimes?

Following the death of Agatha's daughter, Rosalind, at the end of 2004, a remarkable legacy was revealed. Unearthed among her affairs at the family home of Greenway were Agatha Christie's private notebooks, seventy-three handwritten volumes of notes, lists and drafts outlining all her plans for her many books, plays and stories. Buried in this treasure trove, all in her unmistakable handwriting, are revelations about her famous books that will fascinate anyone who has ever read or watched an Agatha Christie story.

How did the infamous twist in The Murder of Roger Ackroyd really come about? Which very famous Poirot novel started life as an adventure for Miss Marple? Which books were designed to have completely differ-ent endings, and what were they? What were the plot ideas that she considered but rejected?

Full of details she was too modest to reveal in her own autobiography, this remarkable new book includes a wealth of excerpts and pages reproduced directly from the notebooks and her letters, plus, for the first time, two newly discovered complete Hercule Poirot short stories never before published.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:30:38 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

This is a fascinating exploration of the contents of Agatha Christie's 73 recently discovered notebooks, including illustrations, deleted extracts, and two unpublished Poirot stories.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 3 descriptions

Quick Links

Swap Ebooks Audio
70 wanted2 pay

Popular covers

Rating

Average: (3.72)
0.5
1 1
1.5
2 3
2.5 1
3 9
3.5 1
4 14
4.5 2
5 8

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.

 

Help/FAQs | About | Privacy/Terms | Blog | Contact | LibraryThing.com | APIs | WikiThing | Common Knowledge | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | 94,322,220 books! | Top bar: Always visible