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The Mirror Crack'd from Side to Side (1961)

by Agatha Christie

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Miss Marple (8)

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3,868783,207 (3.7)188
One minute, silly Heather Babcock had been babbling on at her movie idol, the glamorous Marina Gregg. The next, Heather suffered a massive seizure, poisoned by a deadly cocktail. It seems likely that the cocktail was intended for the beautiful actress. But while the police fumble to find clues, Miss Marple begins to ask her own questions, because as she knows-even the most peaceful village can hide dark secrets.… (more)
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» See also 188 mentions

English (72)  Spanish (2)  French (1)  Danish (1)  German (1)  Indonesian (1)  All languages (78)
Showing 1-5 of 72 (next | show all)
Lord Alfred Tennyson’s The Lady of Shalott figures into the title and the motive of The Mirror Crack’s from Side to Side. Agatha invokes the real life drama of actress Jean Tierney in the unsettling problem of contacting German measles during a pregnancy. Miss Marple stirs from her forced rehabilitation to aide Chief Inspector Dermot Craddock in discovering who had reason to poison Heather Badcock. Before the mystery will be uncovered, two more bodies fall prey to the murderer: Ella Zielinsky and Guiseppe. The clues lead to one person, and Miss Marple understands human nature and that understanding uncovers the killer. An interesting study of how the past always returns to plague and undo the future. ( )
  delphimo | Feb 7, 2024 |
Spannend en verrassend.

Op een feestje wordt een vrouw vermoord.
Al snel wordt vermoed dat zij niet het slachtoffer had moeten zijn.
Vele geheimen worden blootgelegd van de verschillende personen.
Uiteindelijk weet miss Marple de puzzelstukjes op de juiste plaats te leggen en blijkt alsnog dat de juiste persoon werd vermoord en ook waarom. ( )
  wendy.verbiest | Nov 25, 2023 |
Both the surprisingly genuine depiction of being old and the really inventive and clever and sympathetic murder motive here elevate this above the average mystery. Negatives are an ending where a few things suddenly happen that aren't really given space to breathe, a couple of uses of w*p which was... surprising and a pretty unenlightened way of talking about mental health and disability although it's only really objectionable in a couple of instances. ( )
  tombomp | Oct 31, 2023 |
The Curse is Come Upon Me
Review of the William Morrow Paperbacks Kindle edition (June 15, 2004) of the Collins Crime Club (UK) hardcover (November 12, 1962) & the Dodd, Mead & Company (US) hardcover (September 1963) originals.

Out flew the web and floated wide—
The mirror crack'd from side to side;
"The curse is come upon me," cried
The Lady of Shalott.
- excerpt from the poem "The Lady of Shalott" by Alfred Tennyson.


The Mirror Crack’d From Side to Side returns us to the site of Gossington Hall which was one of the primary locations of the 2nd Miss Marple novel The Body in the Library (1942). Miss Marple's friend Mrs. Bantry is now a widow and has sold Gossington Hall, and now lives a downsized life at the gate house. The main house has been sold to film actress Marina Gregg and her film director husband.

The new owners host a garden fete to raise funds for charity and to open their home to visitors. During the party one of the guests dies due to a poisoned drink. It turns out that the drink had been intended for Marina Gregg and the suspicion is that a rival or enemy is trying to murder the actress. Mrs. Bantry enlists the aid of Miss Marple to help investigate. Other attempts are made and then yet another murder occurs before Miss Marple uncovers the diabolical reason for the crimes.

See cover image at https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/3/3e/The_Mirror_Crack%27d_From_Side_to...
The front cover of the original 1962 Collins Crime Club (UK) hardcover edition. Image sourced from Wikipedia.

Confusion for Completists
The Mirror Crack’d From Side to Side is the 8th Miss Marple novel. Some lists, including the Goodreads Miss Marple Listopia, count it as Miss Marple #9 as the short story collection The Thirteen Problems (1932) is counted as #1.

Trivia and Links
The Mirror Crack’d From Side to Side was adapted as a feature film The Mirror Crack’d (1980) directed by Guy Hamilton and starring Angela Lansbury as Miss Marple and Elizabeth Taylor as Marina Gregg-Rudd. You can see a trailer for the film here.

The Mirror Crack’d From Side to Side was adapted twice for English language television series. Both of the TV adaptations are reasonably faithful to the original plot. I did not find any free trailers or postings of either of them, but they are both available on the Britbox streaming service here in Canada.

The first TV adaptation was as part of the BBC's Miss Marple (1984-1992) series as the finale Episode 12 in 2 parts in 1992, which starred Joan Hickson as Miss Marple.

The second TV adaptation was as part of ITV's Agatha Christie’s Marple (2004-2013) reboot series as Series 5 Episode 4 in 2011 which starred Julia McKenzie as Miss Marple. ( )
  alanteder | Oct 15, 2023 |
I don’t normally read Christie’s Miss Marple, preferring Patricia Wentworth’s Miss Silver mysteries somewhat more. I do love Christie’s wonderful Poirot stories, however, especially the ones which take place in exotic locations. It’s not that I have anything against Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple, but the style Wentworth gave her Miss Silver, who was a very unobtrusive figure in her mysteries, is one I enjoy. Of those Vanishing Point might be my favorite.

I do, however, enjoy the Marple films — in all their incarnations, and changing Marples — because like most people, I’m a mystery lover. I came across The Mirror Cracked From Side to Side by chance in a used book store, so decided to give it a read. I’m not even going to deal with the plot here, because many others have commented on it. Most people have probably seen the film as well.

Having read a Miss Marple mystery or two, years ago, this one surprised me a bit. I found the beginning, which had zip to do with the plot that developed, actually quite touching. Here, Miss Marple seems older, restricted in her endeavors. It frustrates her that she has problems knitting now, and is even more maddened at the loss of freedom. Her struggles with the “kind” and cheery person looking after her is both amusing, and just a tiny bit poignant. Though we don’t wish to think about it, we will all be old one day, and feel just as Miss Marple does here.

But not to worry, she’s just as sharp as ever, and by the end, she has the mystery and her life under control. The mystery portion, which everyone is familiar with, is solid enough, but it’s the beginning couple of chapters I’ll take away with me. I still prefer Patricia Wentworth’s unobtrusiveness within the Miss Silver narratives, but I came away from this liking Miss Marple on paper more than I did going in. I’ve always enjoyed the films, and still believe it’s a case of me liking them much more than the books — which is unusual. I do have a soft spot for her now, however, mostly due to those first chapters, and I might try another at some point. ( )
  Matt_Ransom | Oct 6, 2023 |
Showing 1-5 of 72 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (16 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Christie, Agathaprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Ballanti, LidiaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Benvenuti, StefanoForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Daly, GerryCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
de Groot, J.A.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Jenkins, JulieCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Raich Ullán, María DoloresTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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Epigraph
Out flew the web and floated wide;
The mirror crack'd from side to side;
"The curse is come upon me," cried
The Lady of Shalott.
Alfred Tennyson
Out flew the web and floated wide;
The mirror crack'd from side to side;
"The curse is come upon me," cried
The Lady of Shalott.
--Alfred Tennyson
Dedication
To Margaret Rutherford in admiration
First words
Miss Jane Marple was sitting by her window.
Quotations
Well, Alison always saw her own point of view so clearly that she didn't always see how things might appear to, or affect, other people. (Chapter 2)
"I don't—didn't dislike her. But she's just not my type. Too interfering."
"You mean inquisitive, nosy?"
"No I don't," said Cherry. "I don't mean that at all. She was a very kind woman and she was always doing things for people. And she was always quite sure she knew the best thing to do. What they thought about it wouldn't have mattered." (Chapter 6.i)
"Why? Did she bully him?"
"Oh, no," said Miss Marple, "but I don't think that she—well, she wasn't a considerate woman. Kind, yes. Considerate, no. She would be fond of him, and look after him when he was ill and see to his meals and be a good housekeeper, but I don't think she would ever—well, that she would ever even know what he might be feeling or thinking. That makes rather a lonely life for a man." (Chapter 8.ii)
"Well, frankly," said Mrs. Bantry, "I can't imagine anybody wanting to kill Heather Badcock. I've seen her quite a few times, on local things, you know. Girl Guides and the St. John Ambulance, and various parish things. I found her a rather trying sort of woman. Very enthusiastic about everything and a bit given to over-statement, and just a bit of a gusher. But you don't want to murder people for that. She was the kind of woman who in the old days if you'd seen her approaching the front door, you'd have hurried out to say to your parlourmaid—which was an institution we had in those days, and very useful too—and told her to say 'not at home' or 'not at home to visitors,' if she had conscientious scruples about the truth."

"You mean one might have taken pains to avoid Mrs. Badcock, but one would have no urge to remove her permanently." (Chapter 8.iii)
"Heather Badcock meant no harm. She never did mean harm, but there is no doubt that people like Heather Badcock (and my old friend Alison Wilde) are capable of doing a lot of harm because they lack—not kindness, they have kindness—but any real consideration for the way their actions may affect other people. She always thought of what an action meant to her, never sparing a thought for what it might mean to somebody else." (Chapter 23.i)
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One minute, silly Heather Babcock had been babbling on at her movie idol, the glamorous Marina Gregg. The next, Heather suffered a massive seizure, poisoned by a deadly cocktail. It seems likely that the cocktail was intended for the beautiful actress. But while the police fumble to find clues, Miss Marple begins to ask her own questions, because as she knows-even the most peaceful village can hide dark secrets.

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