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Agatha Christie's Secret Notebooks

4.09  ·  Rating Details  ·  4,372 Ratings  ·  122 Reviews
This is a fascinating exploration of the contents of Agatha Christie's 73 recently discovered notebooks, including illustrations, deleted extracts, and two unpublished Poirot stories.
Paperback, 496 pages
Published August 5th 2010 by HarperCollinsPublishers (first published 2009)
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Mar 22, 2010 Jane rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“In August 1948 Penguin Books made publishing history when they issued one million Agatha Christie novels on the same day – 100,000 copies of each. This venture was such a success that it was repeated five years later.”

That’s an awful lot of books. And how many more have been sold – and borrowed – since then? How many films? How many television dramatisations? Amazing numbers!

You would think that everything to be said had been said by now. But no! This lovely book offers something new.

A few year
Feb 06, 2011 Jeane rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
I have to thank my obsession and love for books,the pleasure I get from reading to Agatha Christie. At the age of seven years I was receiving books as present, Agatha Christie books. I started my collection at that age and it gave me a never ending love for books. In the end the books that give me back that pure feeling, the coziness, being me and my books are Agatha Christie books.

The Irish John Curran has an admiration for Agatha Christie which he brought with him in examining her left noteboo
Cathy Ace
Jan 09, 2013 Cathy Ace rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I am a huge fan of Agatha Christie's work, and have finally found the time to sit down and read both this and the "companion piece" by the same author, "Murder in the Making". I realise I'm a bit late to the party, but, believe me, it's a party worth attending!

I enjoyed this book, but probably only did so because I've read all of Christie's works, and I expected it to be what it is: a "decoding" of the author's diaries. Mr Curran has obviously put his passion for Christie's work to good use, ded
Jan 08, 2013 Annina rated it really liked it
I really quite loved this book. I was surprised at how easy it was to read, seeing as what kind of a nonfiction book it is. I expected it to maybe be a book which I would read a little here and there and then again go back to later and read some more. But I read it straight through. The short stories were a bonus too.

However, I think you do have to be a Christie fan to appreciate it. I would also recommend it only after reading quite many of her books because there are spoilers. The author has
Sheila Hollinghead
I'm a huge Agatha Christie fan, but I felt this book was a waste of my time and money. I did learn a little about Christie's writing habits--she had terrible handwriting most of her life (ironically getting better as she aged. What's up with that?), made lists of scenes and rearranged them to suit herself, and often did not know who the murderer would be when she began to plot the book. Interesting tidbits but not worth trudging through the book to learn such trivia. The two short stories were a ...more
Jun 21, 2016 Sarah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: agatha-christie
I love notebooks--have tons of them--and so I thought I would like this book about Agatha Christie's notebooks, and so I did. The excerpts illustrate Christie's fertile imagination, her ability to keep coming up with ingenious plots which were often simply another variation on a theme. As author John Curran points out, however, Christie's plots are not the only reason for her success and popularity. Other authors formulated ingenious mysteries too. A key factor is the sheer readability of Christ ...more
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Fifty years of mysteries in the making... quite interesting report of how Christie knew about the mechanics of storytelling! You can study here Christie's narrative strategies and much more... compelling to the core.
Luciana Darce
Jul 28, 2015 Luciana Darce rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Embora eu seja uma leitora entusiasmada da Agatha Christie (e tenho por futuro projeto ler e resenhar todos os seus livros por aqui), se não tivesse ganhado esse livro de presente, é provável que tivesse passado batida por ele. Biografias, com algumas exceções, não costumam ser minha prioridade de leitura.

Só que Os Diários Secretos de Agatha Christie não são exatamente o que se pode chamar de biografia – não no sentido de que ele conta a história da vida da autora. Mais exato seria dizer que Joh
An Odd1
Jul 01, 2013 An Odd1 rated it liked it
Prefer Not "secret", more tag-end trivia of a big life. More reference text than fan illumination. Only for the ultra-dedicated or legally committed (to a job, not an asylum). Comprehensive, hard without having read. seen or remembering all her work, has spoilers. Microscopic lens on massive undertaking.

Meant to impress reader, justify diligent scholarship, meticulous research, cross-referenced lists, illegible photocopied notebook (partial) pages (~ ever
Apr 01, 2013 Marci rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you like and are well read in Agatha Christie, you will like this book, which delves into the great author's working notebooks and comes up with quotes of scene and character lists, ideas, and workings-out of plot details.

The best parts are where the notebooks reveal how many ways Agatha Christie could have worked out a particular plot--you come away with a glimpse into a truly astonishing level of creativity and ability to vary details to make a set of different stories out of the very same
Jul 19, 2014 Madisson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: agatha-christie
Thorough examination of Agatha Christie’s private notebooks, seventy-three handwritten volumes of notes, lists and drafts outlining all her plans for her many books, plays and stories that will fascinate and intrigue anyone who has ever read a novel by the Queen of Crime. Plus, at the end of the book there are two complete Poirot short stories never before published: The Capture of Cerberus (The Labours of Hercules XII) and The Incident of the Dog’s Ball (From the notes of Captain Arthur Hasting ...more
Aug 27, 2010 Durdles rated it it was ok
Shelves: obsessions
A book for Christie completists. Two previously unpublished short stories make this a must. Those not so obsessed may be slightly disappointed at some of the discoveries; that Christie changed the titles of her books and characters' names sometimes is not very exciting but it is fascinating to discover that, often, she had no idea who the murderer was going to be, even as the plots were almost fully formed. If you are hoping for some insight into her genius you won't find it here as her thought ...more
Astrid Lim
This is a wonderful, marvelous read for all Agatha Christie fans. Yes, it contained lots of spoilers so beware if you still haven't read the titles mentioned in each chapter. But for you who already read them, this Secret Notebooks is a true gem. We were taken by John Curran to delve into the notebooks (that still have limited access up to now) that had been used by Christie to develop her ideas, write the plot of her stories and even to have conversation with herself. It's amazing to see how a ...more
Paul James
An enjoyable book - but you obviously have to like the books & plays of Agatha Christie. I found the book a bit repetitive in places and at times I felt that the book assumed that you knew the works of Agatha Christie in depth. So it may say that AC changed the ending of such and such a book, so that 'she' didn't do it, and 'he' did instead -- but unless you know the books, you have no idea who he or she is. So it is assuming that you know more than the average reader probably would.
Two thir
Laura Cowan
Interesting, and encouraging to see the notebooks of a writer look so much like mine as well as hear about how prolific she was and so on, but most of this book is commentary and the notebook pages are pretty illegible. Two unpublished stories at the end make it worthwhile for the Christie fan regardless, though.
Sep 01, 2012 Deena marked it as started-will-not-finish  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction, bosler
I'm giving up. I had problems with the format (interupted narrative for apparently unrelated bits of varying length) and I don't have much faith in the deconstruction of the mostly very cryptic notes Ms. Christie wrote. To make it worse, Curran focused mostly on my least favorite Christie titles - and I didn't have my copies handy (in many cases I no longer even own those titles) so most of the specifics he was talking about were lost on me anyway.

I really wanted to like this; I've been a Chris
Nicola Furlong
Enjoyed getting a little into the mind of Agatha Christie. This book deciphers her numerous notebooks where she jotted down her ideas for plot points, scenes and characters, etc. Rating it was difficult as it's more for Christieophiles than average readers and I admit to skimming much of it; however, it was fun to glimpse some of her thought processes. I've always admired her work yet was blown away with her amazing output and longevity at the top of her game. How she did it remains a great myst ...more
Tracy St Claire
Feb 09, 2014 Tracy St Claire rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I chose the novel because I collect handwritten manuscripts of un-famous people and I am curious as to what people write, the flavor of thought and the general rhythm of the text written. I guess I got that from Curran's summary of Agatha Christie's notebooks, but I he focused much more on how the notebooks were used to organize and complete her books, and how she used one plot to complete several books, and the timeline of it all. He does this while assuming the reader has read and is familiar ...more
Khairul H.
Nov 17, 2010 Khairul H. rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
Must be a fan of Dame Agatha to appreciate this book. Even so, the author tends to repeat the same things and this just makes me go *twitch*. Also, he assumes you have read all the mysteries beforehand because he has no qualms about revealing whodunit. In his defence, he does state in the beginning of each chapter which mysteries will be revealed within so can't blame him really.
Timothy Coplin
Jun 07, 2015 Timothy Coplin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2015
"What a fantastic book exploring Agatha Christie's notebooks and her development of story plots. Fascinating insight in to Mrs Christie the person, as well has her works. I'm being tempted to reread her material following some of the chapter groupings and discussions as a reading guide.

Completed the book's analysis of Christie's notebooks. Now: two bonus unpublished works!!"

Expert analysis of probable dates for the writing of the two bonus titles that had, until now, gone unpublished.

Both bonus
Gillian Kevern
As an ardent Christie fan, I can definitely see the value of this book for academic purposes. However, Curran's writing felt to me an awkward mix of pedantic fact and fanboyish-ness that actually put me off his subject. I didn't find his speculation over the date at which a story was written anywhere near as interesting as the brief insights into Christie's methods or balance between her personal life and writing (her plot notebooks were used as shopping lists, handwriting practice by young rela ...more
May 30, 2015 Sambasivan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A treasure trove for the aficionados of Agatha Christie. This is a distilled version of the thought process that went behind the crime queen's creations. Extracted from over seventy notebooks of Agatha, this is a book of labour of love. The author John Curran is obviously an expert having masticated all that the writer had written (multiple times I would assume), and brings out clearly the innate intelligence of Agatha, her hard work and research that she puts behind every novel or short story o ...more
Ciò che mi è piaciuto in questo libro è stata l'immediata voglia che mi è venuta di rileggere tutti i libri della Christie, soprattutto quelli letti anni fa. Purtroppo il modo di scrivere di John Curran non mi ha fatto appassionare perchè sembrava più uno studio per pochi eletti che un libro per tutti. Dei due racconti mi è piaciuto di più "Il mistero della pallina del cane" che si rifà a "Due mesi dopo" giallo che mi è piaciuto moltissimo. L'altro racconto non mi ha entusiasmato molto, preferis ...more
Cindy Richard
This book was thrilling - it was like pulling back a curtain to see what happens in Agatha Christie's mind when she is putting together a work of fiction. I have watched more Poirot cases than I have a read, but it was still easy enough to follow along and figure out who the characters were and what changes she made to the final versions. If you enjoy learning about the intricate writing processes of writers, then you will love this book. As an added bonus, there are two short stories at the end ...more
Apr 21, 2015 Emily marked it as to-read
While I was frantically searching the internet to find out who Lucy Eyelesbarrow marries in 4:50 from Paddington, I came across a review from the Seattle Mystery Bookshop that says the information is available (!!!) in Agatha Christie's ~secret notebooks~. It took me approximately 5 seconds to order this.
Jul 20, 2014 Maggie rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: unfinished
For the true Christie fan. Although, I did read all her novels in chronological order, so . . . for the truly detail-oriented true fan, perhaps. I would love to learn more about Christie's creative process, and the "she considered all these characters before settling on this one as the murderer" bits were interesting, but I can't really remember enough about each novel to make sense of some of the stuff Curran is talking about. I think Ariadne Oliver, the mystery writer who is a parody of Christ ...more
Would have enjoyed more notebook excerpts and less editorial pontificating. Especially as Curran seems to assume his favorites and non-favorites in Christie's work translate to "best" and "weak." Dude, we get it, you think Five Little Pigs is perfection. Some of us didn't enjoy it as much. Quit beating the dead horse.

The excerpts themselves were delightful, but overall, if I want to get the flavor of Dame Agatha herself, I'll pick up her Autobiography and re-read that - or simply re-read one of
Jan 14, 2016 Leonor rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

Los cuadernos secretos de Agatha Christie se refiere a los cuadernos que ella usaba para tomar notas: de ideas, personajes, historias, hasta la lista de la compra, todo lo anotaba sin orden en sus cuadernos. Todos estaban numerados, pero no necesariamente seguían el orden numérico asignado, ya que ella tomaba el que tenía a su alcance para anotar lo que se le venía a la cabeza en el momento.
Aquí podrás encontrar los pensamientos de Agatha Christie, un análisis profundo de John Curran sobre
Sheetal Dash
Jul 18, 2014 Sheetal Dash rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Just when you think you have read it all about our favorite lady, this wonderfully written book comes along and you can relive all of your memories of the books you have loved from times long past.I thought I was a Christie fanatic before reading this book, but I'm sorry to say that I lost interest about halfway through. At first, it's fascinating to see how Christie developed her plots and characters, but it gets repetitive and overwhelming. I do agree with another reviewer who stated that it w ...more
Apr 12, 2011 Jason rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
First let's be honest - this is a book meant for hard-core fans of Agatha Christie. But it might also be a curiosity for other authors that are interested in the creative process of the most widely published writer in history.

Curran unearthed a treasure-trove of Christie's notebooks where she sketched out ideas for most of her work. It sometimes reveals fascinating insight into possible alternate endings, how she developed the names of characters, and how/when she decided on a detective for a gi
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