Tuesday 1 February 2011

Who dunnit all?

This arrived in the post today.

I have never been a particular fan of crime writing,
beyond a lazy enjoyment of Miss Marple 
(always Joan Hickson please) and 
Hercule Poirot (David Suchet) on television.
I bought it on the strength of a description of the Queen of Crime
 in 'An English Mystery - Agatha Christie' by Laura Thompson.
'All her life she was fascinated by the ordering of a home.'

In her 1957 book, 4.50 from Paddington,
she created a character called Lucy Eyelesbarrow, 
an Oxford graduate who,
 'in addition to scholarly brilliance,
had a core of good sound common sense.
She could not fail to observe 
that a life of academic distinction
was singularly ill rewarded. 
She had no desire whatever to teach
and took pleasure in contacts with minds
much less brilliant than her own. 
In short, she had a taste for people,
all sorts of people - and not the same people
the whole time. 
She also, quite frankly, liked money.
To gain money one must exploit shortage.'

That shortage was the post-war loss of servants.

'Lucy Eyelesbarrow did everything,
saw to everything,
arranged everything.
She was unbelievably competent 
in every conceivable sphere.
She looked after elderly parents,
accepted the care of young children,
nursed the sickly,
cooked divinely,
got on well with any old crusted servants 
there might happen to be (there usually weren't)
was tactful with impossible people,
soothed habitual drunkards,
was wonderful with dogs.
Best of all she never minded what she did.
She scrubbed the kitchen floor, 
dug in the garden,
cleaned up dog messes,
and carried coals.'

The secret to this happy life was that 
she only did all these things for a fortnight at a time,
never booked herself for more than six months ahead,
 charged the earth
and took frequent short luxurious holidays.

I have yet to discover if she is an accomplished
murderer too, but will let you know.


  1. I love the variety of people I meet whilst out and about cleaning.... love the difference in their homes..... and I actually believe that I could be blindfolded and taken to homes and identify them by their own individual smells (I mean that in a nice way!). There is a quiet satisfaction in leaving a home orderly and clean.... just a pity I haven't mastered it in my own! Might pick a copy of this book up.......

  2. You know, this sounds like a perfect character and a perfect book, and I haven't read it either! I look forward to hearing ...

  3. For some reason I have never read one of her books.

  4. eager to hear what unfolds ...