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Buddy reads > The Life and Times of Miss Jane Marple

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message 1: by Susan (last edited Oct 11, 2017 10:06PM) (new)

Susan | 9623 comments Mod
Welcome to our latest Buddy Read - The Life and Times of Miss Jane Marple, also published under the title, "Agatha Christie's Marple," by Anne Hart The Life and Times of Miss Jane Marple by Anne Hart Hart has sifted through all the Miss Marple books to create a 'fictional' biography. As it is not a novel, I have not put up a spoiler thread, but please do avoid posting spoilers about the various novels, as some members may not have read all/any of the Miss Marple books.

Our next buddy read (and our last for 2017) will be Not a Creature was Stirring Not a Creature was Stirring (Gregor Demarkian, #1) by Jane Haddam by Jane Haddam. This is the first in her long standing series, is set at Christmas and will run from mid-November to the end of December.


message 2: by Judy (new)

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 8596 comments Mod
Thanks for putting the thread up, Susan - I've added the book to our 'currently reading' shelf.

I have just finished reading this book, and found it an easy, quick read, but my feeling was that Anne Hart sticks to the 'canon' rather too much!

I would have enjoyed more speculation about Miss Marple's life in between the books, and what she got up to as a young woman and in middle age. Since this is a fictional biography, perhaps the author could have allowed herself a bit more latitude?


message 3: by Susan (new)

Susan | 9623 comments Mod
I agree, Judy. She does just take 'clues' from the books. As we've all read them all fairly recently, it doesn't add much to the experience. This would probably be a better book if you hadn't read all the Miss Marple novels, or not for some years anyway.


message 4: by Judy (new)

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 8596 comments Mod
True, Susan. I thought there would be scope to expand the hints in the books about her two early romances, for instance, but she just seems to repeat the lines from the books and leave it at that.

Couldn't we learn where she would have been likely to meet the two men, the reasons why the romances didn't work out and what the incidents show about her relationship with her parents?


message 5: by Sandy (new)

Sandy | 2628 comments Mod
I have the book out of the library and hope to start it this week-end. However, it sounds a bit disappointing as I expected more than is found in the Marple books. After all the readers of this book are going to be the readers of Christie's.


message 6: by Susan (new)

Susan | 9623 comments Mod
I suppose if there is no clue about where the romances happened, it is down to speculation and the author is obviously not willing to go beyond the text. I must say that I probably won't read the Poirot one, as I was a little disappointed in this. Both in the content and the writing style. However, it is hard to criticise it too, as the author does give you lots of facts about the character and, if you were coming at this as a new reader - preferably one who had not read many of the books - you would find it really interesting.


message 7: by Jan C (new)

Jan C (woeisme) | 1311 comments I have just started.

A little distracted though by Chicago Cubs being in baseball playoffs. Of course, that could end tonight.


message 8: by Judy (new)

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 8596 comments Mod
Susan wrote: "I suppose if there is no clue about where the romances happened, it is down to speculation and the author is obviously not willing to go beyond the text..."

Yes, that's fair enough, and I'm sure it will please many readers that she hasn't gone beyond what's in the books.

But my personal view is that I was disappointed - I'd hoped a book like this would be more of an imaginative work and do a lot of speculating, to create a picture of her life.

For instance that brief mention of the broken romance with the boring man who her parents loved suggested she was a bit of a rebel in her youth... I was hoping for some thoughts about this.

I think you really summed it up by saying it doesn't add much to the experience of the books, Susan - and I'll give the Poirot book a miss too.


message 9: by Judy (new)

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 8596 comments Mod
Just read my comments over and I might sound a bit harsh - so I'll add that I did enjoy the warm, friendly style of the book and the fact the author obviously loves Miss Marple!


message 10: by Susan (new)

Susan | 9623 comments Mod
I know nothing about baseball, but I wish your team well, Jan. England qualified for the World Cup (very late goal in extra time...). We'll probably do nothing in the actual competition, but it's so boring to watch if we aren't even in it.

Judy, I am not really sure who the book was aimed at. Christie fans would know everything within the books and this doesn't really add anything if you have read them all.


message 11: by Jan C (new)

Jan C (woeisme) | 1311 comments Thanks, Susan. Tonight is the make or break game since they blew it yesterday. I don't think the US made it into the World Cup. I have trouble watching soccer even when I have a team to root for. It usually just puts me to sleep.

I recall playing it in school and it is exciting to play. I just find it less exciting as a spectator sport.


message 12: by Sandy (new)

Sandy | 2628 comments Mod
Jan C wrote: "I have just started.

A little distracted though by Chicago Cubs being in baseball playoffs. Of course, that could end tonight."


My distraction problem was solved for me, a Red Sox fan. And then my second choice was eliminated yesterday. Good luck to the Cubs.


message 13: by Judy (new)

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 8596 comments Mod
I wish your team well too, Jan.

One thing I did like about the Miss Marple book was the description of St Mary Mead and all the shops etc - I don't think I had completely taken all this in from the novels.


message 14: by Jan C (new)

Jan C (woeisme) | 1311 comments Judy wrote: "I wish your team well too, Jan.

One thing I did like about the Miss Marple book was the description of St Mary Mead and all the shops etc - I don't think I had completely taken all this in from t..."


At least the book has a decent sized map of St. Mary Mead and all the locations from the various books noted.


message 15: by Susan (new)

Susan | 9623 comments Mod
I thought the book was a good introduction to the books. However, the author was in a difficult place. She couldn't use spoilers in case the reader had not read the books, so really it was difficult to speculate too much. It was a shame that we read this so late in the challenge really, or it might have been of more interest.

She could have written more about Christie, her publishers and her reading public at the time. Was Miss Marple popular? Were the books pushed for by her publisher, or would have preferred Poirot? Did she fight for them, or against them? That would have been interesting and not relied on plot spoilers.


message 16: by Jan C (new)

Jan C (woeisme) | 1311 comments Sandy wrote: "Jan C wrote: "I have just started.

A little distracted though by Chicago Cubs being in baseball playoffs. Of course, that could end tonight."

My distraction problem was solved for me, a Red Sox ..."


And, now, another week of agony for me as my team (actually, my team is the White Sox but they're rebuilding) faces the LA Dodgers.


message 17: by Susan (new)

Susan | 9623 comments Mod
Ha ha, well, it is something to look forward to. By the way, Jan, 'football,' please and not 'soccer!' ;)


message 18: by Jan C (new)

Jan C (woeisme) | 1311 comments Susan wrote: "Ha ha, well, it is something to look forward to. By the way, Jan, 'football,' please and not 'soccer!' ;)"

We have another game we call football. So to us it will always be "soccer".


message 19: by Susan (new)

Susan | 9623 comments Mod
Same language, but we must agree to disagree...


message 20: by Judy (new)

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 8596 comments Mod
Susan, I agree it would have been good if the book had contained more about Christie and the reading public. It could also have included more about changing lifestyles for women, how villages have changed over the years etc - just a few snippets on themes like these would make it more interesting imo.


message 21: by Susan (new)

Susan | 9623 comments Mod
Or even looking at sleuths in a similar period/framework - ie Miss Silver. I agree, it could have been a lot more interesting.


message 22: by Sandy (new)

Sandy | 2628 comments Mod
I read the book this afternoon; it took little time with all the repetition. The author was in tough spot as many purists would disapprove of her expanding Christie's character.

I liked the description of St Mary Mead and the history of its inhabitants. I don't pay enough attention to settings. And I never noticed all the different Freds delivering fish.

I enjoyed the way the author had to acknowledge Miss Marple getting younger after the early stories.


message 23: by Susan (new)

Susan | 9623 comments Mod
I agree, Sandy. The author was in a difficult position and the book did contain all the available information. It just wasn't that interesting to us - probably as we have just read most of the Miss Marple books.


message 24: by Mark Pghfan (new)

Mark Pghfan | 362 comments I enjoyed the book when I first read it, and again on a re-reading for this discussion. I liked the leisurely way it clarified the various details we've noticed throughout all of the Marple books and stories, but were disjointed until now.

If you all are interested, the author has written a similar book about Poirot. Worth searching out!


message 25: by Susan (new)

Susan | 9623 comments Mod
Yes, I saw that, Mark. I think the Poirot one would be more interesting, as I haven't read all the books/stories so recently and, although many are very familiar to me, some are less so. Also, of course, there are more to choose from!


message 26: by Mark Pghfan (new)

Mark Pghfan | 362 comments It's a longer book since, as you noted, there is more of Poirot's history to present!


message 27: by Susan (new)

Susan | 9623 comments Mod
Of course, she has much more to work with. The Miss Marple books are less cohesive I think. Often Miss Marple is on the periphery of a story and, although I have read that Agatha Christie was fond of her, she did not put her centre stage as much as Poirot. That could have just been financial, or due to pressure from publishers, but it made this book a fairly superficial one.


message 28: by Judy (new)

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 8596 comments Mod
I think it was also a problem for this book that the timing of Miss Marple's life is so erratic - so the author can't go through describing how she was a certain age at a certain time.


message 29: by Robin (new)

Robin I was very disappointed with this work. Possibly I am being too harsh but I thought it was quite superficial. There were so many occasions on which the author went for the simplistic explanation where she could have considered more complex ideas. For example, Miss Marple uses domestic observances and understandings to explain events. This is Christie giving traditional female experiences value. This is similar to the way in which she gives value to thinking rather than acting to achieve an outcome in Poirot's cases. Christine's values are different from the usual detective writer and, looked at from this perspective the writer might have achieved more.


message 30: by Judy (new)

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 8596 comments Mod
Robin wrote: "For example, Miss Marple uses domestic observances and understandings to explain events. ..."

I like your point about Miss Marple using domestic settings to explain events, the way she constantly refers back to St Mary Mead - she really takes the village with her wherever she goes.

I was also a bit disappointed overall, and thought the book could have looked more at how women's lives changed over the decades and how much this is reflected in the way Miss Marple changes between the early books and the later ones.


message 31: by Sandy (new)

Sandy | 2628 comments Mod
Excellent points Robin and Judy. As I see it the basic problem with the book is that it could have been so much more.


message 32: by Susan (new)

Susan | 9623 comments Mod
I think most of us were a bit disappointed by this; although it is hard to say what else the author could have done. She could have expanded her themes into similar books/characters, or looked at the historical background but, as far as the character of Miss Marple went, she was hampered by the actual output of the novels/stories.


Hilary (A Wytch's Book Review) (knyttwytch) I was really hoping for more insight into Miss Marple and didn't get it :(, the problem for me was it was way too repetitive and frankly could have been a small pamphlet rather than a book!


message 34: by Sandy (new)

Sandy | 2628 comments Mod
Hilary S wrote: "I was really hoping for more insight into Miss Marple and didn't get it :(, the problem for me was it was way too repetitive and frankly could have been a small pamphlet rather than a book!"

I would have been really annoyed if I had spent money for the book.


message 35: by Judy (new)

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 8596 comments Mod
Sandy, I nearly bought it and then noticed it was on Scribd under the 'Agatha Christie's Marple' title. I was also pleased to have borrowed it rather than bought it, as I don't think it's a book I'd want to refer back to.


message 36: by Susan (new)

Susan | 9623 comments Mod
Has anyone read the Poirot title too? Does that have more depth?


message 37: by Susan (new)

Susan | 9623 comments Mod
Agatha Christie's Hercule Poirot: The Life And Times Of Hercule Poirot is currently £1.49 on Amazon UK if anyone is interested in reading it.


message 38: by Judy (new)

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 8596 comments Mod
Are you going to try it, Susan, as our Poirot expert?


message 39: by Susan (new)

Susan | 9623 comments Mod
Hmmm, I'm not sure. I was pretty disappointed in the Miss Marple one, but it is pretty cheap. I might download it just in case... That's the problem with all these discounted kindle books, I download them and don't read them :)


message 40: by Mark Pghfan (new)

Mark Pghfan | 362 comments I have the book and read it long ago. I may try to go through it again. One thing I found it helpful for was that it went through Poirot's cases chronologically. The novels are pretty easy to do that with, given publication dates. The short stories, though, often date much earlier than their appearance in a story collection.


message 41: by Susan (new)

Susan | 9623 comments Mod
The short stories are often out of synch, aren't they? I suppose they were published all over the place and then pulled together for a collection later.


message 42: by Sandy (new)

Sandy | 2628 comments Mod
Susan wrote: "The short stories are often out of synch, aren't they? I suppose they were published all over the place and then pulled together for a collection later."

While trying to follow a podcast series that is reading all of Christie in sequence, I have three books of short stories in my 'currently reading' list and have been skipping around in them as directed by the podcast.

P.S. I've fallen way behind in the novels but I'll catch up when the podcast gets to Miss Marple!


message 43: by Lesley (new)

Lesley | 384 comments I too was disappointed in The Life and Times of Miss Marple. I did appreciate the map of St Mary Mead though. I think my disappointment stemmed from my expectations really. I thought we would get a 'fictional' chronology of Miss Marple's life through her adventures with a bit of padding out on her before St Mary Mead - a little more on the briefly mentioned romance etc. But it seemed to be a darting back and forth between the Miss Marple books and the characters joining her, both new and recurring.
I feel the author could have safely exercised a little more imagination since Miss M is a fictional character.


message 44: by Susan (new)

Susan | 9623 comments Mod
Agatha Christie's Hercule Poirot: The Life And Times Of Hercule Poirot is still £1.49 if anyone is interested in reading it.


message 45: by Susan (new)

Susan | 9623 comments Mod
Agatha Christie and Shrewd Miss Marple
Came across this book today, due to a Goodreads friend. This is an article about the book:
ww.dailymail.co.uk/home/books/article...


message 46: by Susan (new)

Susan | 9623 comments Mod
Agatha Christie and Shrewd Miss Marple
Came across this book today, due to a Goodreads friend. This is an article about the book:
ww.dailymail.co.uk/home/books/article...


message 47: by Susan (new)

Susan | 9623 comments Mod
Agatha Christie and Shrewd Miss Marple
Came across this book today, due to a Goodreads friend. This is an article about the book:
ww.dailymail.co.uk/home/books/article...


message 48: by Susan (new)

Susan | 9623 comments Mod
Agatha Christie and Shrewd Miss Marple
Came across this book today, due to a Goodreads friend. This is an article about the book:
ww.dailymail.co.uk/home/books/article...


message 49: by Susan (new)

Susan | 9623 comments Mod
Agatha Christie and Shrewd Miss Marple
Came across this book today, due to a Goodreads friend. This is an article about the book:
ww.dailymail.co.uk/home/books/article...


message 50: by Susan (new)

Susan | 9623 comments Mod
Agatha Christie and Shrewd Miss Marple
Came across this book today, due to a Goodreads friend. This is an article about the book:
ww.dailymail.co.uk/home/books/article...


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