Saturday, July 16, 2011

Notebooks


After reading about Agatha Christie's Secret Notebooks on Agatha Christie.com yesterday I checked our public library and found they had a copy - and a fairly unused one as well.

It's quite a large book, but in fact doesn't take a lot of reading - the print is not small (unlike the print in most of the Christie paperbacks I've got) and the layout is such that there's a lot of white space.

There's also not all that much in it to interest me, unfortunately, and I've given up about halfway through. I thought it might give some background to the way Christie wrote, but it's quite skimpy on this. The author, John Curran, does his best to work out how Christie put her novels together, but he's hampered by having some seventy notebooks that are anything but complete in their info. They're a very haphazard bunch, and though he's done his best with them, they don't actually give much information into how Christie wrote. Or maybe I was just expecting something more.

He does say that she has told us elsewhere (not in the notebooks) that her plotting was done a great deal in her head, and that she didn't write out full outlines for her books. But in contradistinction to that he also says that some of the notebooks have fairly complete outlines of a few of the books: but they come at a stage when all the thinking has been done.

So just how Christie worked out her often intricate stories remains a bit of a mystery. There are plenty of very sketchy one-line notes reproduced in the book, but they're so sketchy that they need Hercule Poirot to unravel them.

The book is useful in the way it cross-references the books themselves, telling us how Christie reused plots and ideas, and that would be interesting if I'd read more of the books recently. But I haven't, and I think rather than read more of Mr Curran's book, I'll move onto reading the novels themselves - or at least the ones I have on my shelves.
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