A facsmile first edition hardback of the Miss Marple books, published to mark the 75th anniversary of her first appearance and to celebrate her new-found success on television.
At Bertram's Hotel, the guests enjoy sumptuous, late afternoon teas, the rosy-faced chambermaids wear real caps, and the doorman is always happy to assist an elderly person into a taxi. Miss Jane Marple, down from the country for a short visit, finds the Edwardian atmosphere both pleasant and disturbing. How can the hotel owners afford to provide such luxurious service at such low rates When absentminded old Canon Pennyfather disappears and the doorman is killed, Miss Marple, amateur detective extraordinaire, assists the police to find the truth. Christie is best known for her upper-class English mysteries; here she directly confronts (and spoofs) the radical class and lifestyle shifts that took place in England during her own long life. Rosemary Leach is a highly competent narrator, with a clear yet unobtrusive reading style. Recommended for all but the smallest recreational audiobook collections. In The Mirror Crack'd, change has arrived at St. Mary's Mead. There is a new housing development, a gleaming new supermarket on the high street, and the manor house that used to belong to Colonel and Mrs. Bantry has been sold to famous movie actress Marina Gregg. Heather Babcock is a plain housewife who lives in the new development. At a housewarming event for the remodeled mansion, Marina passes Heather a cocktail, and a few minutes later, Heather is dead. Police inspector Craddock is called to investigate and immediately consults local spinster and amateur sleuth Jane Marple. Of course, after suitable diversions, she solves the case. Fortunately there is more to this book than a somewhat simplistic plot-it is a gentle exploration of societal changes in mid-20th-century England. Relationships between classes, shopping habits, even clothing are in flux. Wisely, Miss Marple (and presumably Christie) recognizes that though change can be good or bad, it is always interesting. Leach has a beautiful, clear voice, individual characters are well differentiated, and linking text is unobtrusive. Not one of the author's best novels but recommended for moderate to large collections.-I. Pour-El, Des Moines Area Community Coll., Boone, IA Copyright 2003 Cahners Business Information. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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William Morrow Paperbacks
June 14, 2004
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Excerpt from The Mirror Crack'd from Side to Side by Agatha Christie
Miss Jane Marple was sitting by her window. The window looked over her garden, once a source of pride to her. That was no longer so. Nowadays she looked out of the window and winced. Active gardening had been forbidden her for some time now. No stooping, no digging, no planting -- at most a little light pruning. Old Laycock who came three times a week, did his best, no doubt. But his best, such as it was (which was not much) was only the best according to his lights, and not according to those of his employer. Miss Marple knew exactly what she wanted done, and when she wanted it done, and instructed him duly. Old Laycock then displayed his particular genius which was that of enthusiastic agreement and subsequent lack of performance.
'That's right, missus. We'll have them mecosoapies there and the Canterburys along the wall and as you say it ought to be got on with first thing next week.'
Laycock's excuses were always reasonable, and strongly resembled those of Captain George's in Three Men in a Boat for avoiding going to sea. In the captain's case the wind was always wrong, either blowing off shore or in shore, or coming from the unreliable west, or the even more treacherous east. Laycock's was the weather. Too dry -- too wet -- waterlogged -- a nip of frost in the air. Or else something of great importance had to come first (usually to do with cabbages or brussels sprouts of which he liked to grow inordinate quantities). Laycock's own principles of gardening were simple and no employer, however knowledgeable, could wean him from them.
They consisted of a great many cups of tea, sweet and strong, as an encouragement to effort, a good deal of sweeping up of leaves in the autumn, and a certain amount of bedding out of his own favourite plants, mainly asters and salvias -- to 'make a nice show', as he put it, in summer. He was all in favour of syringeing roses for green-fly, but was slow to get around to it, and a demand for deep trenching for sweet peas was usually countered by the remark that you ought to see his own sweet peas! A proper treat last year, and no fancy stuff done beforehand.
To be fair, he was attached to his employers, humoured their fancies in horticulture (so far as no actual hard work was involved) but vegetables he knew to be the real stuff of life; a nice Savoy, or a bit of curly kale; flowers were fancy stuff such as ladies liked to go in for, having nothing better to do with their time. He showed his affection by producing presents of the aforementioned asters, salvias, lobelia edging, and summer chrysanthemums.
'Been doing some work at them new houses over at the Development. Want their gardens laid out nice, they do. More plants than they needed so I brought along a few, and I've put 'em in where them old-fashioned roses ain't looking so well.'
Thinking of these things, Miss Marple averted her eyes from the garden, and picked up her knitting.
One had to face the fact: St Mary Mead was not the place it had been. In a sense, of course, nothing was what it had been. You could blame the war (both the wars) or the younger generation, or women going out to work, or the atom bomb, or just the Government -- but what one really meant was the simple fact that one was growing old. Miss Marple, who was a very sensible lady, knew that quite well. It was just that, in a queer way, she felt it more in St Mary Mead, because it had been her home for so long.