Colleen Venable's Reviews > Murder on the Orient Express

Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie
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's review
Jul 20, 2012

bookshelves: fiction-adult
Read in July, 2012

"If you will forgive me for being personal—I do not like your face" Oh Poirot, you sweet talker, you!

Consumed this while taking the Coast Starlight line, training from Seattle to San Diego—a nearly 40 hour journey, winding through cow fields, forests, holes in mountains, deserts, lots of desserts (food was free to us sleeper car folk and believe me I took advantage of that! By my math I made $30 bucks off Amtrak, and gained nearly roughly 200 lbs. Woo!), and stories from strangers like Roger who was 80+ and had endured 62 years to get the girl. A recent widow, she was waiting for him at the end of the train tracks. In Roger's own romantic words "my best friend married her when we were young and he just wouldn't die."

Not being a huge fan of Christie's detective stories (I much prefer the more ambiguous mysteries like AND THEN THERE WERE NONE) MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS felt a lot like a train journey: it started off exciting, then fell into a rhythm, one that remained nearly unchanged for much of the book. Poirot sits in one place and interviews people. Poirot sits in another place and interviews some other people. Poirot sits somewhere else (surely this man's butt must have been sore from so much detecting!) and interviews the first group again. And on and on. With about 10 pages left I was sure that I disliked the book confused why so many had raved about it over the years. But suddenly, as the answer started to unravel, I an involuntary "whoooa" left my body, loud enough for all my neighbors in the crowded observatory car to hear. Each page got better and by the time I got to the last I was totally in love and drunkenly shouting—NOTE: not my fault, I blame Amtrak's free wine and cheese hour—that it was one of the best endings ever written.

Many days I think about what it must have been like for Christie. To not only be a woman writing in a time so dominated by men, but to be THE most popular writer of her time. Sure people pushed her work aside saying "oh it's just it genre book, it's not real literature" but her prose is so stunning and the woman is pretty much queen of the kick-ass ending. She even made it in that Guinness Book that every modern child dreams of getting into, with hopes that its more along the "Fastest Runner" vs "Longest Case of Hiccups" realm of bragging rights. According to Guinness, the lovely Agatha is the best-selling novelist OF ALL TIME. Not FEMALE best-selling novelist, just best-selling NOVELIST. ACTRESS, HEROINE, WOMAN. Oh how grateful I am that Novelist and Author are terms that somehow escaped the gender differentials.

Maybe it's because they never expected us to actually write books.

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