Getting to know Agatha

getting to know agatha 2

Agatha Christie has fascinated me for as long as I can remember, yet somehow, I’ve never really pursued my curiosity in any depth. As I’m reading a Poirot mystery a month this year for one of my 2019 bookish goals, this felt like the perfect opportunity to get stuck in to all things Christie! I thought I’d share what I’ve come up with so far- I’ve stumbled upon some proper AC treasures😊

Shedunnit-Artwork

The Shedunnit podcast: I came across this podcast by sheer coincidence recently and it is as if  the creator and host, Caroline Crampton, has created a podcast just for me – themed episodes focusing on the golden era of crime fiction – yay! Each episode is so thoroughly researched, so interesting and beautifully broadcast – I highly recommend a listen. Anyway, the podcast episode titled The Lady Vanishes, is one based on the much-deliberated disappearance of Agatha Christie for 11 days in December 1926 and it was a great way into Christie’s world.

Two fascinating articles online: “How Agatha Christie’s wartime nursing role gave her a lifelong taste for poison” (The Guardian) and “Agatha Christie shaped how the world sees Britain” (BBC Culture). Both were incidentally recommended on twitter by @ShedunnitShow.

The Agatha Christie website: quite an obvious one to mention really but an informative source for all things Christie, including themed reading guides and a Read Christie 2019 challenge.

Agatha-Graphic-Novel-GalleyCat

A graphic novel: Agatha: The Real Life of Agatha Christie by Anne Martinetti, Guillaume Lebeau and Alexandre Frank. When searching for books on AC and wanting to go beyond the usual biography type affair, I found this promising looking graphic novel – I’m really getting into reading graphic novels as portals into non-fiction. I’ve only had a quick flick through so far but the artwork in itself is fabulous. I shall report back.

51ObAu2wf9L._SL500_

The autobiography: Well, it’s got to be done hasn’t it! I’m really intrigued to see what she wanted people to know about herself, her writing and the life she led. I think I’ll borrow this book from my local library (because libraries are fantastic places for finding non-fiction if you’re not by nature a non-fiction enthusiast and book funds are lacking).

talent for murder

Just for fun: Agatha Christie as a special agent! I’ve just started listening to the first audio book of a series by Andrew Wilson, called A Talent for Murder. I love the premise so much and am keeping everything crossed that this is a series I can get addicted to. Book two, A Different Kind of Evil is out now in the UK.

mousetrap

One last thing: The Mousetrap is coming to Nottingham at the Theatre Royal -I’ve never seen it nor know anything about it despite its status as longest running West End play. Time to purchase a ticket I think 😉

Honor Girl by Maggie Thrash

Honor Girl by Maggie Thrash was a Pride Month read for me and another adventure into the land of graphic novels. Slowly but surely, I feel I am finding a connection with this genre as I look beyond the words to the artwork and what an amazing skill it to be able to tell your story in words AND images.

HG

This is Maggie Thrash’s debut, a graphic memoir of her teenage years away at an American summer camp where she experiences love for the first time in the shape of Erin, one of the camp’s counselors.  To be given the Honor Girl award of the title, the chosen girl must represent the traditional, very conservative, “female ideals” that the camp fosters. So, the scene is set for the exploration of values, identity, same sex relationships and what being a girl means in this summer camp context of the early 2000s.

My thoughts…

Starting on a light note, the period details really appealed to me as I remember that particular time very well, so Maggie’s love of the Backstreet Boys felt very nostalgic indeed and the scene where the girls are taking it in turns to read the latest Harry Potter book brought back fond memories too. This is not to say that it would only appeal to a certain age group though, as the story itself and the themes it develops are absolutely timeless.img_camping-tent-silhouette-25The portrayal of Maggie’s thoughts and actions as she falls in love for the first time are so believable, so accessible and I was totally transported back in time to my experiences. I especially liked how Thrash shows how monumentally important the smallest moments felt; arms brushing against each other, a caught look, treasured conversations that were perhaps quite average on the surface but that you spent hours trying to read in between the lines of. The novel really evokes those familiar feelings of adolescence; the insecurities, the awkwardness and the sheer, exhilarating intensity of it all.img_camping-tent-silhouette-25The contrast between this gentle love story and the values held by the camp leaders is powerful. Though coming out is not easy for Maggie by any means, the grown ups cause far more problems than her fellow campers. Towards the end, one of the leaders tells Maggie she must stop all this nonsense as camp is a space for girls to be free and innocent and her behaviour is therefore unfair on the other girls. Maggie is made to feel that she is a bad person, that her feelings are wrong and must be suppressed. Erin is then seen as a predator, though she is only a couple of years older than Maggie, who has turned Maggie into something undesirable. I felt so angry on Maggie’s behalf and so angry that such ways of thinking still very much exist eighteen years on.img_camping-tent-silhouette-25In terms of the artwork, I believe Thrash has a style that matches the narrative and the characters brilliantly. It is the art of a 15-year-old Maggie with clean, sparing illustrations and a dreamy palette of colours. They are raw rather than refined, direct rather than focused on subtly.img_camping-tent-silhouette-25Though they may at first appear to be simple, the panels are cleverly thought out to interact with what the words don’t say. And by not over complicating the artwork I feel that Thrash allows the reader enough room to interpret what is happening for themselves – the images are starting points, guidelines.

Thrash’s story is incredibly bitter sweet, this is not a story of happy ever afters but a genuine story of a vulnerable, fragile relationship, full of hope and missed opportunities. You may need tissues.