Sunday, May 30, 2010

Discovering the Mary Westmacott books

Thanks to new Rs. 150/- editions and my sister leaving behind a couple of Agatha Christies on her last trip, I have been reminded of how wonderfully she wrote. It's now well over twenty-five years since I first discovered and drank them in. I have occasionally found an unread book or re-read favourites, but between excellent writing, a decent memory and cinematic adaptations, had stopped, thinking I would remember them too well to enjoy another reading.

Not true.

And yesterday, I bought "Giant's Bread," one of the novels she wrote under the pseudonym, Mary Westmacott. I have long hesitated to pick these up. What if they are boring?

Let me tell you: "Giant's Bread" is unputdownable! Set over a couple of decades between the Boer War and the First World War, the characterization and plot are amazingly contemporary. It's only the references to specific locations and events that remind you that this is not a story about the last two decades (and yes, the absence of email and cell-phones!).

I want especially to highlight the section where Christie/Westmacott writes from the perspective of a small boy. It's brilliant. There's no trace of the well-traveled, world-feted novelist there: just a little boy, who is afraid of grand pianos and has imaginary friends.

If you are looking for a fun read for a summer evening, try "Giant's Bread." Now, I must earn the time-off to read the first volume of the Ariadne Oliver omnibus!


Jyoti said...

Would look for Giant Bread. Maybe as an ebook to read on my handheld readers. I've many BBC Radio adaptations of Agatha Christie books as mp3s if you'd like to figure that version of her works. All superbly delivered but with minor recording glitches.

Swarna Rajagopalan said...

Yes, I've enjoyed those too. Will ask you about your collection some time!