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The Mysterious Affair at Styles (Hercule Poirot, #1)
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Poirot Buddy Reads > Unofficial Poirot Buddy Read: Poirot 1: The Mysterious Affair at Styles

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Jessica | 362 comments As I have become attached to reading a nice Agatha-mystery each month I will continue on by reading through the Poirots in reading order as published by agathachristie.com (http://s3.amazonaws.com/agatha-christ...).


Jessica | 362 comments This is the first thread I ever opened, so let's see how it goes!

The first book is The Mysterious Affair at Styles.

Excerpt from http://www.agathachristie.com/stories...

Agatha Christie’s first novel, The Mysterious Affair at Styles, was the result of a dare from her sister Madge who challenged her to write a story. The story begins when Hastings is sent back to England from the First World War due to injury and is invited to spend his sick leave at the beautiful Styles Court by his old friend John Cavendish. Here, Hastings meets John’s step-mother, Mrs Inglethorpe, and her new husband, Alfred. Despite the tranquil surroundings Hastings begins to realise that all is not right. When Mrs Inglethorpe is found poisoned, suspicion falls on the family, and another old friend, Hercule Poirot, is invited to investigate.



Jill (dogbotsmum) | 1954 comments I read this years ago so was pleased to read it again. The description of Poirot was so like David Suchet, so it shows how well he has done. What did surprise me , was that at one point Poirot did , indeed, skip down a path!
I had forgotten that he was in fact a refuge, and was found accommodation with other Belgium refuges by Mrs Inglethorpe.

Very pleased you have started this thread Jessica. Thanks


Jessica | 362 comments I know! It is really interesting to look back at the beginning. I always just accepted Poirot as a given, and now here he is.... freshly over from Belgium, hitting upon an interesting mystery quite by accident!

Do you think I ought to open a thread for each book, or update this one every month?


Hilary (A Wytch's Book Review) (knyttwytch) Hmm I haven't read many Poirot books - I might jump in if that is okay!


Hilary (A Wytch's Book Review) (knyttwytch) oh and a new thread per book please!


Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 8611 comments Mod
Hi Jessica, I'm really tempted but slightly overloaded with books at the moment. Will hope to chip in.

I think there should be a new thread for each book and also a spoiler thread - it will help people to keep track if they want to look back or join in later. I'm happy to set up the spoiler thread if that would help?


Sandy | 2637 comments Mod
I plan to join in later, though I will follow the posts immediately. I read the first four Poirot's last year and haven't the time for rereads right now. I expect I'll have an opinion once the discussion refreshes my memory. I'll be an active participant later in the year and am looking forward to it. Thanks for organizing it.


Brina I'd like to read Murder in Mesopotamia coming up in January if anyone would like to join me.


Jan C (woeisme) | 1315 comments I have read Styles several times over the years. I probably have it on my Kindle. If so, I will activate it.


Susan | 9647 comments Mod
I have read Styles before a couple of times. I will re-read if I have time and look forward to joining in, as and when I can.


Jessica | 362 comments This is such fun! I have opened a spoiler thread too, really looking forward to the new reading year with you all :-)


message 13: by Robin (last edited Jan 02, 2018 03:47AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Robin This is going to be such an interesting thread to participate in. I've recently reread The Mysterious Affair at Styles and found it worth thinking about as Christie's first novel as well as her first Poirot.


Lady Clementina ffinch-ffarowmore | 1150 comments Oh- I just noticed this thread but would love to join in. Let me dig out my copy of Styles


Pamela (bibliohound) | 334 comments I'll be joining you later in the month, too many great book group reads starting in January :)


Susan | 9647 comments Mod
I am also going to re-read this. I found I have a copy with the original 'last scene' in it, so I am looking forward to reading that. Apparently, Christie wrote Poirot's great wrapping up of the evidence (literally the end of almost every novel, so not a spoiler I hope!) in a courtroom, but the publisher made her change the setting. I am looking forward to seeing how it changed the feel of the book, if at all...


Mark Pghfan | 362 comments I have read this book too many times to count! As I look back at this book, and compare it to the entire Poirot canon, I feel Christie hit Poirot's character spot on the first time out of the box! Unlike some sleuths who change over the course of their books, Poirot did not.


Roman Clodia | 758 comments That sounds interesting, Susan - I didn't know about the changed ending.

I'm loving re-reading this and have noted how smoothly Christie kicks off this series, involving us immediately in the story.

Heading over to the spoiler thread for more comments.


Susan | 9647 comments Mod
I will avoid the spoiler thread until I have read this again, as I remember most of the novel, but perhaps not all the details...


Mark Pghfan | 362 comments I had heard that the publishers asked her to change the ending taking place in a courtroom, but didn't know that it was ever available to read. May I ask how you came upon it? It would be fascinating to me to read it!


message 21: by Susan (last edited Jan 01, 2018 10:51PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Susan | 9647 comments Mod
I have the Harper Collins edition, Mark, but I believe the author also mentioned it is in: Agatha Christie's Secret Notebooks (although I can't swear to that, as I haven't read it). However, John Curran, who edited the notebooks did the introduction. I am saving the ending for the end, but looking forward to reading the alternative.


Robin Susan wrote: "I have the Harper Collins edition, Mark, but I believe the author also mentioned it is in: Agatha Christie's Secret Notebooks (although I can't swear to that, as I haven't read it). ..."

You are right, Curran did discuss the original ending in the Notebooks. From recall, Christie was glad that she changed it as it worked so much better in its reworked form. However, she seems to have set up her own courtroom, doesn't she? This way she avoids having to follow anyone else's rules so the advice actually gave her more freedom.


Susan | 9647 comments Mod
Yes, setting the scene for endless drawing room announcements, complete with assembled cast :) However, Christie did it first, I think?


Roman Clodia | 758 comments Ah, there's a mini drawing room announcement scene at about 50% so perhaps that's why Christie set the end somewhere different in the first version.

Also, how fabulous is this for Christie's trademark tongue-in-cheek humour (no spoilers):

'Yes, he is intelligent. But we must be more intelligent. We must be so intelligent that he does not suspect us of being intelligent at all.'
I acquiesced.
'There, mon ami, you will be of great assistance to me.'
I was pleased with the compliment. [...]
'Yes,' he continued, staring at me thoughtfully, 'you will be invaluable.'


:))


Jessica | 362 comments Some Christie / Styles facts just to throw into the mix ;-)

Did you know:

The Mysterious Affair at Styles earned her the princely sum of £25... this obviously did not deter her as she named her own house Styles in 1924 after the success of her first novel.


Susan | 9647 comments Mod
Jessica wrote: "Some Christie / Styles facts just to throw into the mix ;-)

Did you know:

The Mysterious Affair at Styles earned her the princely sum of £25... this obviously did not deter her as she named her..."


The first book must mean a lot, I'm sure. It was a good book too! Creating Poirot in the first novel is pretty impressive.


Robin Yes, she named her home Styles, but disliked it intensely. Archie wanted it. This was the house from which Agatha disappeared.

I love the comment about Hastings being such a help in the subterfuge about intelligence.


message 28: by Sue (new) - rated it 4 stars

Sue (mrskipling) | 250 comments This is a tangent, but I do love her house in Devon (Greenway, National Trust). I've visited several times and I just feel I could move in and feel at home without any trouble at all! I think she was very fond of the place, and I'm not surprised.


Robin I love this tangent, and am envious about your multiple visits. I've been once and can appreciate how lovely it is and why AC loved it. It is really interesting to see the locations that appear in some of her books, the many books in her library, and a card house. I am thinking about this latest feature of Poirot and wonder how many of the novels she used it. I suspect that the grey cells and patent leather shoes might be the most enduring of Poirot's characteristics.


Robin Brina wrote: "I'd like to read Murder in Mesopotamia coming up in January if anyone would like to join me."

I've recently read this one and could participate. However, I might not be able to keep up with everything so would be a spasmodic contributor. I read one of the novels about Christie in which the two main characters in this one were given a background and alternative future, so find it a very interesting.


Robin I've written a review of The Mysterious Affair at Styles and in that I suggest that it is clearly a first novel, introducing Christie as an author, her characters, and her plotting style. I had forgotten the lovely Hastings comment referred to above, and felt that this novel had far less of the wit that I see in the later works.


Roman Clodia | 758 comments I felt this was amazingly slick for a first novel with strong plotting, and a definite 'voice'. But yes, Christie pushes the boundaries more in later books.


Robin Roman Clodia wrote: "I felt this was amazingly slick for a first novel with strong plotting, and a definite 'voice'. But yes, Christie pushes the boundaries more in later books."

Oh yes, I so agree. I was really talking about the witty comments in the later novels, foreshadowed (now I've read the comments) by the Hastings remarks. I was thinking of the humour in Murder at the Vicarage, for example. But you are so right - a first novel and so adept. I enjoyed reading it with this discussion in mind


Mark Pghfan | 362 comments Roman Clodia: I totally agree as well. Someone reading this without knowing it was the first could easily see it well in the middle of the dozens of Poirot novels.

Another fact: One of the reviews of this book Christie was most proud of was from a Pharmacological journal, praising her accuracy in her use of poison!


Susan | 9647 comments Mod
Mark Pghfan wrote: "Roman Clodia: I totally agree as well. Someone reading this without knowing it was the first could easily see it well in the middle of the dozens of Poirot novels.

Another fact: One of the reviews..."


Interesting to see she was praised for her use of poisons. I want to read, A is for Arsenic: The Poisons of Agatha Christie A is for Arsenic The Poisons of Agatha Christie by Kathryn Harkup

I am currently reading another book, by the same author, about the use of science in Mary Shelley's "Frankenstein," and it's fascinating, so I would like to read her previous book on Christie.


Laura | 11 comments I'm joining! I've already read this book but I can't remember much about it at all! :)


Frances (francesab) | 364 comments I'm about half way through reading this and agree that Poirot feels fully formed-his character doesn't change much over the course of many books. Interestingly, he is being spoken of as an older man retired from the Belgian Police force (I had forgotten he was in the police in his earlier life) so I'm sure if the stories were put into chronological time he must have been very old indeed by the end of the Christie novels.

I'm reading The Mysterious Affair at Styles edition and it has the deleted courtroom scene at the end.


Susan | 9647 comments Mod
For anyone who doesn't have the courtroom scene, it is really the drawing room scene, just in a different location. It is nice to see how she originally pictured it, but I can see why it was suggested she change it. Far easier for Poirot to unveil the culprit and then hand him, or her, over for justice.


Robin I wonder why Poirot did not maintain the characteristic of building card houses while he pondered? The card house features at Greenway but was dropped from his character fairly early on. The green eyes lighting up is more pronounced during one period of writing. The first novel is less subtle in characterisation than in some of the future books. Christie, like any writer, became more sophisticated as she developed her work. I think that someone has already mentioned his contribution to the romance of the characters, John and his wife. My feeling is that he does not take so much licence in the later books. This is not to say The Mysterious Affair at Styles is not a competent first novel. Indeed it is. However, it would be odd if a writer did not develop her powers over time. And, alas, see those powers decline as was the case with dreadful Passenger to Frankfurt and others of that ilk.


Mark Pghfan | 362 comments The card house building features again in, I think, Murder in Three Acts.


Robin Thank you, Mark. I thought it appeared again, but couldn't remember which novel. I associated this feature do strongly with Poirot that I was very surprised when it didn't appear in all the Poirot novels.


Sandy | 2637 comments Mod
I remember the card houses from the TV series. Perhaps it was used more often there as it is a great visual affect.


Robin It would be terrific I agree.


message 44: by Judy (new) - rated it 4 stars

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 8611 comments Mod
I've started this one now, but am not very far in yet. Quite a lot of characters to keep track of.


message 45: by Judy (new) - rated it 4 stars

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 8611 comments Mod
I've just had to turn back lots of pages in my Kindle edition to check who a couple of people were - then realised there is a searchable etext online, so I should be able to look there if I get in a muddle again, without losing my place in the book:

http://www.online-literature.com/agat...


message 46: by Judy (last edited Jan 14, 2018 11:21AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 8611 comments Mod
Poirot seems very Holmesian when he first goes in the victim's room and finds a couple of clues, stashing them away! I wondered if he would bring them out and explains their significance a long time later, as Holmes often does - but no, he tells Hastings about them a page or two later... except for one point which he keeps to himself, that is.


Tracey | 246 comments I've had this on my tbr list for ages, will join in later in the month. Need to get reading!


message 48: by Judy (new) - rated it 4 stars

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 8611 comments Mod
I'm sure you will enjoy it, Tracey. I really liked it but rather wished I hadn't read it in the edition I picked up recently when it was free on Kindle for a few days. Every time Poirot said something in French the accents were all garbled, so it made it a bit hard to follow!


Susan | 9647 comments Mod
I love Poirot and hope to continue, but I am just finding that I have too many books to keep up with! Anyway, it was lovely to re-visit the first Poirot novel. I think we are all agreed that this was an impressive debut.


message 50: by Tara (new) - added it

Tara  | 772 comments I always seem to be reading too many books at once, but I couldn't resist coming back to this one after our Miss Marple challenge last year. I am struck by how well formulated Poirot is from the start. Learning about him from Hastings' perspective, you aren't really sure at the beginning how capable he is, although you definitely get the sense that his methods are unorthodox. I am trying to read this with a fresh eye, as if it was a new story and characters. I have never read the Poirot stories in order, and I am looking forward to doing so.


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