Monday, October 15, 2012

Book Review, Sunday, October 14, 2012: Miss Marple, The Complete Short Stories

And now for something completely different, as Monty Python might say (and do): 

So, we learn the value of not being seen. That's something Miss Marple knows quite well. Sometimes it's easy for her, because so many people (and not only in her time) tend not to see older women. She makes it even easier by sitting quietly with her knitting or hiding behind a potted plant and being quiet. She's a good listener, too, even when people know she's there. In fact, she listens so well that people forget whom they're talking to and begin to talk about how old women spend too much time gossiping and thinking about inconsequential matters.

But Miss Marple, Agatha Christie's brilliant creation (by which Madame L means not only that Agatha Christie was brilliant in thinking up this character but also that the character is brilliant---or was that obvious?), illustrates time and again that her quiet observations are the means of solving many a mystery. 

And not just the mystery of what happened to "that gill of picked shrimps that disappeared so incomprehensibly."

No, Miss Marple also knows when to can a servant girl and whom to notify that her favorable reference has a hidden backstory, so that the distasteful snob who ends up hiringthe girl wakes up one morning to find her lingerie cut to shreds and two of her brooches missing, gone of course with the missing girl.

More than that, Miss Marple can see when something is about to happen. Unfortunately, though, since she's so good at not being seen, and heard, sometimes her warnings are also unheard. 

And all that is just from one of the collected stories starring Miss Marple, "A Christmas Tragedy."

Madame L found this gem of a short-story collection in a used book bin, but it's also available in several editions at for prices ranging from one penny to about twelve dollars. 

Miss Marple has also been brought to the small screen in various versions, some better than others, but all capturing her essence. Madame L prefers those episodes starring Julia McKenzie, who is in the most recent PBS/BBC series:

There is even a Miss Marple channel on YouTube. Enjoy, Dear Readers!

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