Kinga's Reviews > And Then There Were None

And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie
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Sep 18, 2012

really liked it
Read from May 27 to 31, 2011

Before I begin I would like to apologise for my use of the N word in this review.
It is necessary, I promise.

This book was originally published in UK under a charming title of "Ten Little Niggers". When it came to the US version in the 40's someone decided that 'Ten Little Niggers' is not the most marketable title for a book so they changed it to 'Ten Little Indians' (as it was still ok to call Native Americans Indians then).
Only years after someone decided that neither 'Niggers', nor 'Indians' is a fortunate choice of words for the title so it was changed to 'And Then There Were None' - the last line of the nursery rhyme which in this new version was called 'Ten Boy Soldiers'.

This is the version that I read and I must say I am glad. I think I would be rather uncomfortable reading something called 'The Little Niggers', which takes place on 'Nigger Island' (how did Christie want to pull this off? 'Nigger Island' off the Devon coast? Really? How?).

The premise, I am sure you know, is this: ten people end up cut off from the world on a tiny island. One of them is a murderer and people keep dying as in the nursery rhyme. Every person on the island has a secret and is guilty of a murder. It's the kind of murder where law is helpless. Nothing can be proven. This is why they found themselves on that island, at the mercy of a prototype 'Jigsaw' madman who decided justice must be done.

The premise requires the structure of the novel to be very organised and clean cut. I felt that it was only right for me to approach the reading of it in an equally disciplined way. I took five sheets of papers and divide each in half, thus ending up with ten cards, one for each character.

And I continued to dilligently fill them out with all the details I learnt about the characters until about halfway through the book when I became too engrossed, frightened and nervous. I already had an inkling as to who the murderer was and was petrified I would be murdered in my sleep as well. The situation was very serious and I had to invite all my teddy bears back to my bed, so they could protect me.

I grew to like two of the characters - the sentiment, I think, I shared with Christie as she liked them so, she killed them last.

This was my second Christie, and the first proper one. The first one I read was a bit of a mishap spy novel, so Christie's brilliance wasn't as apparent as it was in 'And Then There Were None'.


4.5 stars

PS> Thanks to karen I have just found this page - betterbooktitles

And here is their take on Ms Christie:
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Reading Progress

05/28 page 50
19.0% "Ok. I need to start making notes."
02/05 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-45 of 45) (45 new)

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Cydni Perkins I had no idea how censored it was! I was excited to find an old copy entitled "Ten Little Indians," which I thought was the original title. As for the N word, I understand that the British during this time period used it very casually to mean anybody who wasn't white. It may not have been the loaded word it is now, in America. America and Britain have different swear words. I've heard that "Bloody" is the very worst word you can say over there, whereas in America it sound quaint and silly. So I want to give Ms. Christie the benefit of the doubt on this one. Maybe it just didn't have the same meaning in 1930's Britain that is does here and now.


Leerah I felt the same way! As I was reading the book I was so scared! You would have thought I was reading a horror book.


message 3: by René (new)

René "she liked them so, she killed them last" - didn't Arnold Schwarzenegger (oops sorry, used the n-word) say that in a movie?


message 4: by Jonfaith (new)

Jonfaith Christopher Hitchens addresses Christie's anti-semiticism in his memoir Hitch-22; I am not sure if that is germane to her being nonchalant about dropping slurs at every turn.

Enjoyable review. I've seen the film.


Jessica T. I love this review!! I only read half because I just started the book ...


Kinga Thanks! I don't reveal much, but, yes, it's always better read the review afterwards :)


message 7: by Motasem (new) - added it

Motasem Great review !!


message 8: by Diane (new)

Diane Thank you for the history lesson, interesting!


Cynthia Chen I can relate to your review. I was so scared while reading the book late at night in bed. I was afraid someone would kill me in bed too.


Imsathya Compliments on a great review. I have read and reread the book about a dozen times now but still feel pretty scared at various phases of the book. The final moments with Vera are particularly chilling.


message 11: by Cameron (new) - added it

Cameron Nice point about taking notes from the outset. I shall do the same.


Michael Interesting. I new this novel has had differents titles during time but I wasn't quite certain about the reason (specially from "Ten Little Indians" to "And Then There Were None"). I guess things were different at those times and those words didn't have the disrespectful meaning they have now.


Kinga I think they did have the disrespectful meaning then but it wasn't considered a big deal to be disrespectful towards certain groups of people.


message 14: by Travelin (new) - added it

Travelin Ah, but what COLOUR was the paper you used?


JaVone Bentley During that time soldiers were called Niggers in Britain. However because the term was considered offensive in the US they changed the name. Remember the soldiers in the novel? Those are what the original title was referring to.


Kinga Javone wrote: "During that time soldiers were called Niggers in Britain. However because the term was considered offensive in the US they changed the name. Remember the soldiers in the novel? Those are what the..."

No, that's not true. 'Ten Little Niggers' was a standard in minstrel shows and had nothing to do with soldiers.


message 17: by Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽ (last edited May 26, 2014 10:25AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽ Kinga wrote: "I think they did have the disrespectful meaning then but it wasn't considered a big deal to be disrespectful towards certain groups of people."

Yes, this. I'm glad that when picked up my copy many years ago it had the new ATTWN title. It was and remains my favorite Agatha Christie novel (I read a boatload of them back in the day, and remember very few). IIRC, it's Indian Island and Indian statues inside the book, though. Has that been changed (again) in later editions?


message 18: by Hana (new) - rated it 3 stars

Hana Kinga, this is the second time today that I've come across one of your marvelous reviews. Do you do this professionally? You surely are a treasure!


message 19: by Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽ (last edited May 26, 2014 10:40AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽ The "teddy bears" paragraph cracked me up so much that I had to share it with my husband.

Although, Kinga, it occurs to me that if you were scared that you would be murdered in your bed, there must be some dark deed in your past that you're concerned the murderer has found out about . . .


message 20: by Hana (new) - rated it 3 stars

Hana Oh yes! The protector Teddy Bears! :D


Kinga Ha ha. I thought I would give you a visual:
http://instagram.com/p/oeZV9ZNpTK/#

They are not exactly 'bears'. A penguin, a puppy and a panda.
Each given to my by a different beau.

Hana - I WISH I were doing it professionally. :)


message 22: by Travelin (new) - added it

Travelin By the looks of it, you may be smothering those bears, or they may be resorting to rasta solutions to bear the bedtime stresses.


Kc-cajun It's a mistake to judge an author or book written decades ago by today's standards, and an even bigger mistake to rewrite it for PC reasons. Imagine an edited Huckleberry Finn--the message wouldn't have nearly the punch, nor sadness, if Twain's words were changed to make the readers "feel better" about. I want to read the exact words by the author, while keeping the time period in mind. Pretending that some people were referred to by what we now view as derogatory names doesn't erase history. Ms. Christie was simply writing for her times... not the 21st century. Keep that in mind, learn from it, and enjoy. I promise the use of derogatory names that were used 80 years ago will not rub off on you!


message 24: by Kinga (last edited Oct 23, 2014 04:11AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Kinga Kc-cajun wrote: "It's a mistake to judge an author or book written decades ago by today's standards, and an even bigger mistake to rewrite it for PC reasons. Imagine an edited Huckleberry Finn--the message wouldn'..."

No, not in this case. Let's remember that Christie kept her anti-Semitic views long after WWII ended.

This is not rewriting Huckleberry Finn. The word 'Negro' has nothing to with this story and changing it changes nothing story-wise. Additionally the changes to the title were made while Christie was still alive, because, guess what, even back then, judging by back then standards, it was rather questionable. Check other writers who wrote at the same time and somehow managed to be more sensitive. Call it 'PC' if you like, I call it mere decency.

It's up to you if you want to read 'the exact words of the author', I'd rather just enjoy a good crime story without gratuitous racism.


carrie garcia How do I get to book to read?


Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽ carrie garcia wrote: "How do I get to book to read?"

Carrie, Goodreads doesn't give you any books to read, although it has links to Amazon and other websites where you can get the book. Some ebooks are free, but most are not. Hope that helps.


Sofia Oh I didn't know that. Very interesting review!
Although I would like to point out that the meaning and gravity of words can change over the course of time. 'Gay', for example meant happy, now it means something else. I'm sure the N' word didn't have the same connotation at the time. I can't see anyone writing a poem or a book (specially someone like Christie) using offensive words. Knowing this though... I don't know how I feel about the censoring. I agree it would not play well nowadays, but there could be like a note inside explaining it?? Either way, this was very informative. Thanks for the share =)


Thomas Flowers It is certainly NOT necessary to use the N-word! Never, and especially not in this review and so often!
This is imprudent (at best) or racist.


Kinga Why? Is it not ok to remind people how not long ago it was perfectly ok to use people of other ethnicities as props in your novel? Or that Agatha Christie was unfortunately cheerfully racist? (And also quite openly anti-semitic, but that's another story). Do you think me not mentioning that this book's original 'playful' title was 'Ten Little Niggers' and pretending this never happened and it's always been called 'And then there were none' and talked about 'toy soldiers' would be less racist?


Thomas Flowers Your comment is the best evidence.
This is exactly what I mean. Some people use the N-Word over and over again - telling people at the same time that the word is racist, the word was formerly used, that this is the word you shouldn't use, and so on.
In your comment you are using the racist expression once again and it seems to me that you like to use it, that you were hoping for a context to use it. You don't even think about paraphrasing it.
That's certainly more than ignorance and imprudence.


Kinga Thomas wrote: "Your comment is the best evidence.
This is exactly what I mean. Some people use the N-Word over and over again - telling people at the same time that the word is racist, the word was formerly used,..."


I'm pretty sure if we all just said "N-word" instead of the actual word, there would be no racism. You solved it. If only Agatha Christie called the book "Ten Little N-words", that would've been ok. Euphemisms don't solve racism. If I say 'N-word', I'm still saying it, I know what I mean, and you know what I mean and it is transcribed in your head to the actual word. It's ok to say one letter, but not all six of them. Because the remaining five make you racist whereas the first one doesn't. The problem with Christie's title was not the word itself but everything it represented, the casual, gleeful racism of it and you don't get rid of it by replacing one word with another word, because that solves nothing. You will transfer the hateful meaning of it onto the new word.


Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽ Thanks to Thomas's efforts to eradicate racism in all its forms, I now have this word bouncing around in my brain. Thanks.


message 33: by Alexia (new) - added it

Alexia Alba In Romania it is still called "Ten little niggers"


Aminabooklover thank you for the title changing story ,i had no idea about it ,i have to admit i didn't like the title too ,i found that the N word had no place in the story except the nursery rhyme. and in the era of the 1930's .can we point out to the fact that we only find out who the murderer is literally in the last two words ? this is my first book from Agatha christie and is and will always remain my favorite ,the crime is there ,the mistery up until the end ,if anyone wants to try both the author and the genre ,that's the perfect book.


Nadine Jones That was really interesting history about the title - even with the edits, I still found parts to be startlingly bigoted, when referring to the Jewish and native people. I took notes too! I had the right idea of who did it, but the wrong person. And yes it got scary!


message 36: by kxto (new) - rated it 5 stars

kxto This is the best book I've ever -and probably will ever- read. It was scary and perfect to read a winter night during a blackout under the candlelight. 10/10. Also the greek title is still 'Ten Little Niggers'.


Taneeta I think what Thomas was trying to say was that using the word at all when it doesn't have any derogatory reference towards you is quite disrespectful. Of course racism won't be stopped simply by refusing to say the full word. But normalizing it through flippant use is disregarding the hurtful sociohistorical context within which it developed. Just my two cents.


message 38: by Eric (new) - rated it 2 stars

Eric Totally agree with Thomas and Taneeta, definitely an unnecessary use of the n-word in your review - and you promised! (see: definition of necessary.) I can see maybe using it once, but you just kinda sprinkle it on liberally because maybe you feel like you have literary license to use the n-word, and boy are you gonna use it! A few of us see through that. What's wrong with something like, "The title was originally called 'Ten Little N*****s', which actually referred to residents of a once-unfortunately-named island off the coast of Devon. Later, having gone through yet another offensive iteration as 'Ten Little Indians', the title was finally fixed as it is today: 'And Then There Were None'."

Easy, peasy. It's called paying respect even if you don't technically have to. Three paragraphs? C'mon.


Lizzie I don't think your use of the N word really was necessary! I agree with Eric above, you've really gone overboard with it here... It's nice to have some history on the book but did you really need to use a racist term 6 times in 3 paragraphs to achieve this?


Samantha Hall Kinga your review was great! It was a piece of history that you were sharing with others who were interested. These people bashing your review sound like they are the ones who are truly racist! If you are scared of the word, and you fight so hard to have it not said, then you still give it meaning. That means you still believe in the word. Kinga simply gave us a history lesson. You Thomas (and mini-Thomas's) are making it into a whole new problem. Put down your phone or keyboard and keep your negative comments to yourself.


message 41: by Eric (last edited Feb 18, 2016 02:20PM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Eric Hey, it doesn't bother ME at all when people are racist, or in this case use charged language, on the internet. I've been YouTubing for years lol, it's around. I'm merely pointing out how unnecessary her "necessary use" really was. You can't admit that it seems a little gratuitous?

Allow me to quote (censored): "...N*****s... N*****s... N*****s... N*****s... N*****... N*****..."

Yes, context is important, but c'mon: "(how did Christie want to pull this off? 'Nigger Island' off the Devon coast? Really? How?)."

Yeah, Kinga sounds REALLY outraged with that NECESSARY parenthetical.


Amaan Merchant Nicely reviewed. I had my liking for Vera and Lombard.


Brittany I could be wrong, but doesn't the murderer flat out explain why s/he killed people in the order it was done? It wasn't because those characters were liked, it was because those were the ones the murderer wanted to psychologically traumatize the most, because they were the most guilty.


Dragonsfire Yes it is explained why they were killed in the order they were, Brittany, which I almost didn't read because I didn't realize it was still part of the story. Lol


Lillian O'Phean I'm not sure why people are calling your use of the n-word excessive. I find the word "w*tback" personally offensive because it degrades Italian-Americans (I am Italian-American), but when I replace the n-word in your review with w*tback, I don't find it excessive. It just looks like you're making fun of the title, which you have every right to do, as it's a horrible title. Anyway, good review.


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