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Group Challenges > They Do It With Mirrors

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message 1: by Susan (new)

Susan | 9644 comments Mod
Welcome to our October Challenge Read. This Miss Marple novel was first published in 1952.

Miss Marple senses danger when she visits a friend living in a Victorian mansion which doubles as a rehabilitation centre for delinquents. Her fears are confirmed when a youth fires a revolver at the administrator, Lewis Serrocold. Neither is injured. But a mysterious visitor, Mr Gilbrandsen, is less fortunate – shot dead simultaneously in another part of the building.

Pure coincidence? Miss Marple thinks not, and vows to discover the real reason for Mr Gilbrandsen’s visit.

Please avoid posting spoilers in this thread.


message 2: by Leslie (new)

Leslie | 592 comments I have gotten the audiobook CDs from the library, narrated by Joan Hickson :)


message 3: by Susan (new)

Susan | 9644 comments Mod
Sounds great, Leslie. I do like Joan Hickson as Miss Marple.


message 4: by Judy (new)

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 8610 comments Mod
Just noticed there was a TV film of this in 1985, called Murder with Mirrors (the book's original US title) with an impressive cast, including Helen Hayes as Miss Marple, Bette Davis as Carrie Louise, Sir John Mills as Lewis and Tim Roth as Edgar. Has anyone seen this?


message 5: by J (new)

J | 10 comments I saw it at long time ago but don't recall much.


message 6: by Susan (new)

Susan | 9644 comments Mod
I probably have seen it at some time, Judy, but don't really recall it. Again, this has a good cast of characters and an interesting setting, so does lend itself to being filmed.


message 7: by Judy (new)

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 8610 comments Mod
Thanks, J and Susan. I'll watch the Joan Hickson version for now as I have it on DVD, but will watch out for the Helen Hayes film too.


message 8: by Mark Pghfan (new)

Mark Pghfan | 362 comments There is a third version, with Julia McKenzie, which is quite different indeed. All of them seemed to change the book somewhat, though the Hickson version seems to be the truest.


message 9: by Judy (new)

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 8610 comments Mod
Thanks, Mark - I think I would have to space it out to watch all 3 versions. I like all the actresses who have played Miss Marple in the TV series but, as you say, the Hickson versions are the truest to the books.


message 10: by Judy (new)

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 8610 comments Mod
What does anyone think of the delinquents' home setting in this one? I found it rather unconvincing - I know it was written in the 1950s, but the whole way the home is run just seems all wrong, to me anyway...

In Bertram's Hotel I immediately thought that Christie must have a real hotel in mind because it was so realistic and there were so many little details of the life, food etc. In this one I thought the opposite - the bits where it is just like a country house are convincing, but the prison school bits aren't.

I see (from Wikipedia) Robert Barnard said in his review at the time "Unusual (and not entirely convincing) setting of delinquent's home, full of untrustworthy adolescents and untrustworthy do-gooders. Christie not entirely at home, perhaps because she believes (in Miss Marple's words) that 'young people with a good heredity, and brought up wisely in a good home…they are really…the sort of people a country needs.'"


message 11: by Susan (new)

Susan | 9644 comments Mod
I agree it is unconvincing, Judy. It reminded me of the Wimsey book set in advertising, with the young messenger boys, all of whom seemed to have unconvincing Cockney accents and this was much the same :) Wot, Cor Blimey, Sir!


message 12: by Judy (new)

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 8610 comments Mod
Yes, Susan, the advertising agency itself was convincing, as Sayers knew the background well, but I agree the young lads were not very realistic at all.


message 13: by Mark Pghfan (new)

Mark Pghfan | 362 comments The trust Peter puts in Ginger Joe in the Sayers book does seem a little unlikely.

As far as this book goes, I wonder whether it was just a lark on Christie's part--perhaps mocking the sort of thing the institute was trying to do.


message 14: by Jackie (new)

Jackie | 201 comments it is a weird school, isn't it? but what was the alternative for delinquent boys in that era? because I really don't know.


message 15: by Susan (new)

Susan | 9644 comments Mod
http://www.childrenshomes.org.uk/AS/

I found this article on approved schools, Jackie.


message 16: by Roman Clodia (new)

Roman Clodia | 758 comments Yes, the home seems to be run on rather random lines - but it reminded me of Shakespeare Inside: The Bard Behind Bars, a real-life account of how Shakespeare 'works' in prison.


message 17: by Judy (new)

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 8610 comments Mod
Random lines is right, R.C. - even considering that there used to be a lot of personal eccentricities in the running of many institutions, this one still seems very odd.

That book about Shakespeare productions in prison sounds very interesting.


message 18: by Roman Clodia (new)

Roman Clodia | 758 comments Yes, and I wondered if Margaret Atwood was referencing it in her Hag-Seed: The Tempest Retold, also set in a prison where drama is used as a kind of therapy. Perhaps Christie's home was onto something after all!


message 19: by Susan (new)

Susan | 9644 comments Mod
I keep meaning to read, "Hag-Seed," as I liked "Dunbar," so much and you recommended that one... Too many books to read :)


message 20: by Judy (new)

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 8610 comments Mod
Interesting to see Miss Marple travelling once again in this book, and accepting the job of finding out exactly what is going on at the school. I'm wondering if we will see her in St Mary Mead again before the end of the series?!


message 21: by Susan (new)

Susan | 9644 comments Mod
Perhaps in the short stories, Judy? The next two novels are both mainly set outside of St Mary Mead. "Nemesis," sees her on holiday again, this time on a bus tour.


message 22: by Tara (new)

Tara  | 771 comments Imagine how strange the idea must have seemed at first to allow prisoners to train service dogs, but its the type of program that really works. I think in the case of delinquency in boys, that can be caused by so many factors, an off-the-cuff approach might not be the worst idea in the world.


message 23: by Susan (new)

Susan | 9644 comments Mod
It builds trust, doesn't it, Tara? Which is important.


message 24: by Judy (new)

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 8610 comments Mod
I watched the Joan Hickson TV adaptation last night and really enjoyed it. Although it made some changes from the book, it felt pretty faithful overall and I loved Jean Simmons as Carrie Louise.


message 25: by Judy (new)

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 8610 comments Mod
I will watch out for St Mary Mead in the short stories, Susan. Miss Marple’s garden must be getting quite overgrown!


message 26: by Susan (new)

Susan | 9644 comments Mod
Yes, it must, Judy :) She really has a very busy life.


message 27: by Judy (new)

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 8610 comments Mod
I don't know all that much about Agatha Christie (well, I know a bit more after our buddy read of Agatha Christie and the Eleven Missing Days!) - just wondering if anyone knows whether she was a gossip in real life, like Miss Marple?

A couple of things in this book made me wonder - at one point there appears to be a reference to rumours about Monty's (General Montgomery) sexuality, which I believe have been discussed in biographies more recently but surely weren't widely known in the 1950s when the book was written? Maybe this was a sort of "in" comment to those in the know - like the way Miss Marple always knows about characters' relationships, real and rumoured...

Also, not exactly gossip, but I wondered if the name Gulbrandsen Foundation was supposed to make readers think of the Gulbenkian Foundation? I checked and the foundation hadn't actually started when the book was published, but Calouste Gulbenkian was a well-known philanthropist.


message 28: by Susan (new)

Susan | 9644 comments Mod
From what I have read about her, Judy, she was a very private person, with a few close friends. I have no doubt she indulged in gossip with them - who doesn't at some point? Miss Marple and Dolly Bantry, I am sure, enjoyed gossiping over afternoon tea :)


message 29: by Judy (new)

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 8610 comments Mod
Susan wrote: "From what I have read about her, Judy, she was a very private person, with a few close friends..."

That's interesting, Susan, thank you. I got that impression from the Eleven Days book about the period when she went missing, but I wasn't sure about whether this was the case in general.


message 30: by Susan (new)

Susan | 9644 comments Mod
She certainly did have some close female friends, although as we learnt in the eleven missing days book, sadly not the relationship with her daughter that she would have liked.


message 31: by J (last edited Oct 21, 2017 10:51AM) (new)

J | 10 comments I'm wondering if she used her own relationship with her daughter as a basis for Carrie Louise's relationship with hers. Perhaps the apparent reconciliation at the end was what Dame Christie would have liked herself.


message 32: by Susan (new)

Susan | 9644 comments Mod
I thought that too, J. I really think she was saddened by her relationship with her daughter.


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