Comments: 9
Abandoned by user 3 years ago
Oh - I missed that COMPLETELY when I read the book because I hadn't yet read By The Pricking of my Thumbs! There are so many of these tiny references. I'm just starting to catch them with this round of rereads. I think I will never be able to catch them all, no matter how many times I read the books.
Yeah -- it's the sort of thing you pick up on easily if you read the books in quick succession and in the right order, but really only then. It's also another another instance indicating that all of her books / characters inhabit the same fictional universe -- which she alludes to repeatedly in her later books, but except for three distinct examples I can think of (St. Mary Mead as a village name, Mr. Satterthwaite making an appearance in "The Three Act Tragedy", and Miss Lemon moving from employment with Parker Pyne to employment with Hercule Poirot), the worlds of the earlier books seem to be kept much more apart.
BrokenTune 3 years ago
That is probably one of the major take-aways I have from the "completion project", that she didn't just write stories according to a formula but there is an underlying "fictional universe" as you put it where characters do mix and interact.
Still, I am glad that she never had Marple and Poirot meet. It would have been too much. There is some subtle sense of joy in recognising details or characters from other stories in a new story, and I don't mean the obvious re-working of a plot here but the details such as the old lady with the glass of milk babbling about the child in the fireplace.
Agreed on all points. I think she started out never contemplating to mix the worlds of her various series -- but there probably came a point where she herself was, in part, living in those worlds, and as they subtly started to merge in her mind she began to work them into each other in the novels, too -- always careful, at least in the beginning, to keep the major strands of narrative and protagonists separate, however.

The somewhat ambiguous starting point is, I think, St. Mary Mead making an appearance in a Poirot novel ("The Mystery of the Blue Train," 1928) at around the same time Miss Marple made her first appearance in the newspaper short stories that were published as "The Thirteen Problems" in 1932, two years after "The Murder at the Vicarage" -- the first 6 of these stories appeared in December 1927 and throughout 1928. Yet, Miss Marple's existence is never so much as hinted at in "The Mystery of the Blue Train", even though she obviously wrote the novel at the same time as the short stories. After that, the cross references are somewhat more overt with the "border crossings" of individual characters.

Question: Do you recall Colonel and Mrs. Easterbrook (from "A Murder Is Announced") ever referring to a son ... or a nephew? I've always taken them not to have any relatives belonging to "the younger generation" -- in part, I actually think their disconnect with Patrick and Julia Simmons stems from their world being entirely that of their own generation (interesting in light of Christie's final books and what went wrong there, too), but the same last name cropping up in a starring role in "The Pale Horse" nevertheless begs the question. -- When OB asked it a while ago, I said I don't think it's a deliberate cross reference, and I still think so, but at the very least I think it's fair to say she liked the last name and decided to use it again ... in a similar way as every other maid in her novels is called Gladys.
BrokenTune 3 years ago
I remember that discussion of the Easterbrook connection and still I have been wondering all the way through if there really was nothing to connect Mark to the Easterbrooks in A Murder is Announced, because he would just fit so well into the whole setting (even tho I didn't like him as a character) and because Christie planted the Despards into the Pale Horse (and has one character have a connection with Julia Stark...obviously), too, so why would we need to exclude the possibility of Mark Easterbrook being related to the Colonel and his wife? And of course, we have Colin "Lamb" popping up in The Clocks. And the son of Griselda and the vicar in one of the later books, too.

The more the concept of the Christie universe grows on me, the more tend to think that there may have been some intention there to weave touch points into her different settings. Six degrees and all that...
BrokenTune 3 years ago
As for the Gladyses, I'm sure she just liked the name and the concept of the "typical" maid ... just as all of her gardeners are curmudgeons.
I'd *like* there to be a connection as well, but I think we'd really need something in Christie's writing to be able to say the cross reference is a deliberate one (as it definitely is with the Despards and Colin Lamb). Sigh. So many reasons to keep rereading so many of her books ...
BrokenTune 3 years ago
Well, I'm keeping an open mind as I haven't finished ALL of the short stories, yet... ;D

And, it sounds like a re-read of A Murder is Announced should be on the cards at some point, too. And that is never a bad thing.
Definitely not. On account of the book itself (plot line, characters, setting) as much as on account of the fact that it -- together with "The Mirror Crack'd" -- is probably one of Christie's most deliberately autobiographical novels.