Tag: andthen there were none

Agatha Christie

14 Shocking Facts About Agatha Christie

Known as the ‘Queen of Mystery’ Agatha Christie’s iconic murder mysteries have haunted readers for decades, with over 2 billion books sold worldwide. Responsible for creating some of the most iconic characters and stories, including mystery detective Hercule Poirot, the legacy of this British novelist is unparalleled.


The best-selling novelist of all-time has defined the mystery genre through her mysterious, bizarre, and shocking storylines. Her memorable characters are only rivaled by the Christie’s own unforgettable backstory. Here are fourteen facts about Agatha Christie that are downright shocking, bizarre, utterly entertaining. 


1. Her first novel was inspired by a dare.


As a teenager Agatha Christie experimented with poetry and short stories. However it wasn’t until her sister challenged her to attempt a longer written work that she wrote her first novel. Her novel, The Mysterious Affair at Styles (1920), introduced detective Hercule Poirot, who would later become a popular literary icon. 


2. She mysteriously disappeared for 11 days…leading to alien abduction conspiracies. 


In 1926, Christie’s life suddenly became a mystery novel in itself when, grieving the devastating death of her mother, and going through a divorce from her husband Colonel Archibald Christie, Christie abruptly disappeared. Her family, police, and the public were left bewildered. She vanished without a trace, leaving behind her daughter (in the care of household staff), wedding ring, and abandoned car, which led to a manhunt that ultimately turned up nothing. Eleven days later she was finally sighted… at a spa hotel in which she had been staying the entire time, under the name of her husband’s mistress. Christie claimed to have had amnesia,  and her bizarre disappearance was never fully explained.


Throughout the sensationalized ordeal there were countless theories surrounding Christie’s disappearance. Some people theorized that the whole ordeal was a publicity stunt to increase book sales. Others believed Christie’s amnesia was real, perhaps as a result of an accident. Others believed Christie was attempting to setup her husband and characterize him as a suspect Gone Girl style. Those theories are not nearly as interesting as one put forth by Gareth Roberts, one of the writers for BBC’s Doctor Who. In an episode titled, “The Unicorn and the Wasp”, the writer theorized that Christie indeed suffered amnesia after a traumatic encounter with an alien wasp.  Could it be true? Guess we’ll never know for sure.


3. She pursued smoking… but failed.


Though nowadays millions of people try desperately to give up smoking, Christie tried desperately to take up the habit. World War I had popularized tobacco, so smoking was seen as lavish and didn’t have the reputation that it does now. Wanting to fit in, Christie experimented, however she just couldn’t get in to it.  


4. She had a taste for poison.


During World War I, Christie worked as an apothecaries assistant and handled a variety of toxins, leading her to developing an advanced knowledge of poisons. Her interest in poison translated on paper, as it was her preferred method of murder in many of her works. Her preference stemmed in part from her aversion to graphic violence. It may help too that it makes the murder suspect all the more mysterious.


5. Her mother was psychic.


Christie’s mother, Clarissa Boehmer, was a self-proclaimed clairvoyant who reportedly convinced her children that she could see the future. Her esoteric beliefs reportedly led her to refrain from teaching Christie how to read at a young age (though the author taught herself) and homeschooling her. 


6. She once held the Guinness World Record for the world’s thickest book.


In 2009 HarperCollins published a collection of Christie’s Miss Marple stories – comprising of twelve novels and twenty short stories. The collection featured a mere sixty-eight crimes committed, sixty-eight secrets and lies, twenty-two false accusations, twenty-one romances, and 143 cups of tea consumed, delivering a whopping 4,032 pages, weighing more than fifteen pounds, and priced at $1,500 dollars. The record was surpassed in 2013 when a 89,471 page book titled Verdens Største Ordbog (The world’s largest dictionary) was published in Denmark.


agatha christie

Image Via Mental Floss


7. She had a passion for archaeology. 


Christie’s second husband, Max Mallowan, was an archeologist and frequently invited her along on his expeditions to the Middle East. These expeditions greatly influenced her writing. Christie and her husband often traveled on The Orient Express, which later inspired her successful murder mystery, Murder on the Orient Express (1934). Influences of her time spent in the Middle East can be seen in many of her works including, Murder in Mesopotamia (1936), Death on the Nile (1937), Appointment with Death (1938), and They Came to Baghdad (1951)


8. She holds another record as the first woman to surf standing up.


Though many famed writers, including J.D. Salinger, were recluses who shut themselves away with their work, Christie wasn’t one of them. She loved spending time outdoors and had a particular passion for surfing. Her interest arose during a stay in Hawaii and she is believed to be the first British woman who surfed while standing up.


9. Her fear of poverty inspired her portrayal of money as a motive.


Though she was born to a middle-class family, Christie was conscious of the power and limitations of money throughout the childhood after her father experienced financial setbacks. After her father passed away when she was eleven, the author was reportedly haunted by a constant worry of her family’s financial situation. Tracing the author’s life, career, and legacy in her 2007 biography, Agatha Christie: An English Mystery, Laura Thompson wrote, “Agatha had a fear of poverty, deriving from her memory of the sudden downward swoop of the Miller fortunes. Money is central to Agatha’s writings. As both Poirot and Miss Marple [Christie’s two most famous characters] are aware, it constitutes the prime motive for crime.”


10. She was a self-proclaimed “sausage machine.”


Though the exact number of works written by Christie varies between sources, everyone agrees that she wrote a freaking lot. The “queen of mystery” is known not only for her compelling reads, but the sheer volume of written works. At the height of her career, Christie referred to herself as a “sausage machine,” in reference to her ability to churn out a lot of material rapidly. 


11. Her pseudonym Mary Westmacott remained a secret for nearly two decades.


Though the name Agatha Christie is known by many, the famed author also wrote six novels under the pseudonym Mary Westmacott around 1930. Unlike the murder mysteries associated with her name, the author created a new reputation by diving into the romance genre releasing titles like Giant’s Bread (1930). Her pseudonym went undisclosed for nearly 20 years.


12. Her number of sold works outnumbers the populations of China and America (combined).

Christie has sold more than 2 billion copies of her written work, cementing her status as the best-selling novelist of all time. 


13. She detested marmalade pudding.


Christie disliked marmalade pudding, so much so in fact that she used it as a murder accessory in her novel A Pocket Full of Rye (1953). Perhaps she wanted to warn off readers from consuming the treat. Guess we’ll never know. 


14. Her protagonist Hercule Poirot was adored by many people… except for Christie herself.


One of the most prolific literary characters is Christie’s murder mystery detective Hercule Poirot, who made around 100 appearances in Christie’s works. Though beloved by many, the author repeatedly voiced her dislike of Poirot, once referring to him as an “detestable, bombastic, tiresome, ego-centric little creep.” In an interview with BBC, Christie’s grandson Matthew Prichard revealed that the Poirot’s popularity with readers led Christie’s publishers to push the writer to continuously “churn out” Poirot mysteries. So if you think his frequent appearances was a result of Christie’s love of him, think again.



Via Giphy


Featured Image Via Biography/Amazon

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5 Books That Deserve A Sequel

There are some books out there that are just so damn good we cannot get enough. Literally. As readers we are often spoiled with sequels left and right (particularly in the young adult genre). Yet, when we know that an author has established that a story is over and no sequels are in sight, we feel disappointed, confused, angry, baffled…you get the picture.


Whether it’s because we wanted the answers to a mystery that we spent 400 pages awaiting, but never received (I’m looking at you, Tim O’Brien), or simply cannot abandon a character we feel inherently close to, here are some of the books we WISH had a sequel…or two.


1. “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay” by Suzanne Collins


hunger games

Via Goodreads and Lionsgate


“The Hunger Games” is one of the most ground-breaking young adult novels to reach shelves. It challenged political and social norms through its portrayal of a fierce and independent woman who persevered through societal pressures. Though the trilogy went deep into conflicts, and, for the most part, wrapped up the central problems, this is one series that would have benefitted from one more book.


Why it needs a sequel…


I think I represent many fans when I say that  Katniss and Gale, her childhood friend who created a new level of romantic angst, should have ended up together (spawn protests from Peeta supporters). Don’t get me wrong, the common experience that Katniss and Peeta shared brought an intimacy to their relationship that couldn’t exist between Katniss and Gale. However, the ending which saw Katniss and Peeta settled down together, with a child in tow, seems a little too…unsatisfying.


Given everything that they endured, did they really live happily ever after? And, on top of that, did the Hunger Games really cease to exist in the years to come? There is so much more to this story that readers would love to see. It’s been 7 years since the last book in the trilogy was released. And yet, the angst and unanswered/unbeliebavle resolutions puts “The Hunger Games” trilogy on the list of books that deserve a sequel.


2. “Gone Girl” by Gillian Flynn


gone girl

Via Goodreads and Twentieth Century Fox


This suspense novel filled with shocking twists and puzzling turns captivated readers. The plot follows the disappearance of Amy Dunne and the subsequent persecution of husband Nick Dunne. While Nick struggles to clear his charges and public image, readers are baffled to be met with the point-of-view of a very-much-alive Amy. The duo’s unreliable nature and questionable motives provide a truly breathtaking ride.


Why it needs a sequel…


While the two main conflicts of the plot are resolved by the end of the story (we do find out what happened to Amy and who was involved), we’re still incredibly puzzled! It’s not so much that there are gaps left unexplored, it’s more so that the ending is so insane that we are dying to find out what happened next.


In the end, Nick and Amy are still married (though not necessarily by choice), leaving us wondering: how long will these crazy partners-in-crime last? It’s hard to believe that after everything (I mean everything) they still find themselves married. Will they find a weird-yet-romantic happily ever after? Will their contempt for one another eventually lead to a murder…or two? We need answers, Flynn!


3. “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen


pride and prejudice

Via Barnes and Nobles and Focus Features


Jane Austen’s novel can undoubtedly turn any cynic into a complete romantic! “Pride and Prejudice” can be both enjoyed by feminists and old-fashioned hopeless romantics. The novel which led to countless adaptations (the 2005 film is the best, by the way) is a classic and timeless read that any generation can enjoy. The plot follows Elizabeth Bennet who lives in a society that pressures young women to marry, ultimately measuring them by their lineage, values, education, and more. As she endures such pressure and witnesses how the pressure affects the women around her, she is forced to challenge her notions about love, gender, and wealth when she becomes acquainted with the brooding Mr. Darcy.


Why it needs a sequel…


While the ending ties up the major conflicts (i.e. romantic pairings), it appears a little too perfect. Before you start yelling at me, let me explain! Austen gives us everything we want with the ending. However, based on the personalities of main characters Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy, it’s a little difficult to picture life for the couple after the final pages of the book.


Yes, I know that it’s just a story but it’s stuck with me. Elizabeth won readers over through her independent nature and defiance against sexist and restrictive cultural norms. While it’s incredible that she found love with Mr. Darcy, especially without oppressing her independent identity, I can’t help but question what their marriage would look like. Would Lizzie just conform to expected domestic roles? Would she have children and raise them with the appreciation of gender equality? Imagining their marriage, and, in particular, the development of her character really makes us wish we could see it on page. 


4. “The Handmaid’s Tale” by Margaret Atwood

handmaids tale

Via Amazon and Hulu


If you binge-watched the Hulu series as I have, you’ve seen the incredible yet frightening story that “The Handmaid’s Tale” depicts. In the original novel, Atwood paints a startling representation of gender, equality, religion, and more when she invites readers to see how all these elements can imprison members of society, in particular women.


Why it needs a sequel…


This read is hard to put down, captivating readers in every word on every page. Readers cannot stop themselves from devouring every word until…the plot abruptly stops. The ending of “The Handmaid’s Tale” does not offer fans a resolution, rather a huge cliffhanger that makes us yell obscenities, cry (maybe both at the same time), and scratch our heads in confusion.


Similar to the TV series, the book abruptly ends right as Offred, the narrator, enters a large black van driven by armed guards whose intentions are not entirely clear. Though another character reassures Offred that the van will lead her to safety, his sketchy characterization throughout the text makes her, and us, question the accuracy of his words. Furthermore, she is never reunited with her husband, leaving readers both saddened and left wondering if he managed to find safety or otherwise. Come on, Atwood! Though it’s been just, you know, 32 years since the books release, there is still time to give us some answers in a new sequel!


5. “Gone With the Wind” by Margaret Mitchell


Gone with the wind

Via Amazon and Silver Screen Collection


Though some (very unfortunate) modern readers may have no idea what “Gone with the Wind” is, or the fact that its film adaptation is one of the hallmark American films, Mitchell’s novel is one of the best American novels ever written. Set during the Civil War Period, and subsequent Reconstruction Era, the story follows aristocrat Scarlett O’Hara as she deals with the loss of her home, identity, and loved ones. Readers follow O’Hara as she picks up the pieces of her life and tries to save her home, Tara, while dealing with the many men in her life (including literary hunk Rhett Butler). 


Why it needs a sequel…


“Gone With the Wind,” which is told over the course of 1,000+ pages, really digs into the story and the character development of O’Hara, Butler, and many other characters. We see the ups and downs of relationships and political conflicts, and find many resolutions toward the end of the novel. The relationship between O’Hara and Butler suffer a lot of strain in the end, and the ending sees him walking out on her, ignoring her plees, and making the infamous statement, “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.” Ouch.


Stubbornly optimistic, O’Hara vows to win Rhett back. Though her famous words, “After all, tomorrow is another day,” give readers a warm fuzzy feeling, we wish we knew if she was successful. Did she win him back? Did he feel guilty and return? We need to know! While the book technically already has a sequel (Alexandra Ripley published Scarlett in 1991, following Mitchell’s death), it isn’t an extension of Mitchell’s incredible literary mind. Ripley’s sequel was written through her vision which could have differed drastically from Mitchell’s. 


Featured Image Courtesy of Focus Features