Agatha Christie in the Library with a Candlestick

Agatha Christie – in the Library with a Candlestick

Book cover of Agatha Christie, First Lady of Crime edited by H R F Keating

Audio version

Book cover of Christie Murder in Mesopotamia by Agatha ChristieHaving just watched a crime drama series on Channel 4 called Hierro (Spanish with English subtitles and highly recommended 😊) I am having a nostalgic look back to when I lived in a neighbouring Canary Island, Tenerife.

The Hierro portrayed is similar to the Tenerife of my youth – few tourists were in the north where we lived with awe inspiring coastlines, banana plantations and dramatic barren volcanic terrain round much of the rest of the island, before tourism took overA photo of the exterior / entrance to a library in Tenerife and the small fishing villages became concrete jungles. The narrow streets of the small towns,  the simple white washed houses with flat rooves to dry the washing and the Canarian culture all felt familiar. It was an idyllic place for a child to grow up and also the place where I was first introduced to a library. The English Library, a bungalow set in its own colourful gardens, was just outside the gates of our school and became a regular destination for me to keep topped up with books to supplement the ones my parents had shipped out to me from ‘Home’      

I quickly outgrew the children’s section after reading and rereading what was on offer and then moved on, probably prematurely, to the Agatha Christie novels. So-called teenage novels did not seem to exist in those days! Her novels have since been one of my ‘comfort’ reads and ones that I go back to regularly.

I was unaware until more recent years of the connection that Agatha Christie had with Tenerife – she holidayed in Puerto de La Cruz in 1927 – staying just a short walk away from the English Library in the Hotel Taoro. In fact she is said to have written one of her novels there during her stay. Chances are that she may also have visited the Library itself as it was opened in1903

Book cover of Murder On The Orient Express by Agatha ChristieThe literati of the town have cashed in on the connection by starting an Agatha Christie International Festival there too, becoming a destination for many fans and avicionados of the author.

I visited the English Library when we were back in Tenerife recently – it is still in operation though has since been renovated and extended so the walk-in cupboard that once held the Childrens books has now, evoking echoes of Narnia, become the portal to a brand new area within the library.

The exotic settings of some of Agatha’s books have inspired and intrigued me through the years - from the Orient Express to Mesopotamia and Egypt as well as the more mundane, quintessential English villages with their rose covered gardens, village ponds and country gentry. I have also always loved the variety of methods of dispatching of victims as well as trying to guess ‘who dunnit’.Book cover of The Body In The Library by Agatha Christie I wonder if many people have been inspired to use their garden plants as methods of poisoning their enemies – there seems to be plenty of scope according to Agatha!

There have been numerous films, tv drama series and radio plays made of her plots – in fact some have nothing really to do with any of the novels as her characters – specially Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple -  have found themselves solving many mysteries not of Agatha’s making! In total she wrote 66 detective novels and 14 short story collections and is dubbed ‘The Queen of Crime’

Biographers have also been plentiful and much has been made of her disappearance for days after her separation from her husband. There’s nothing like a true life mystery to intrigue the public further.

Her legacy to crime fiction is incontrovertible as is obvious from the continued popularity of her books. Long may Agatha’s books grace the shelves of our Libraries and keep ‘the little grey cells’ working as we try to work out ‘whodunnit’! Hopefully not in the Library with a Candlestick 😊

Book cover of Agatha Christie, First Lady of Crime edited by H R F KeatingBook cover of Agatha Christie A Mysterious Life By Laura Thompson