I am sure that MANY of us here are well on-board with the joys of snuggling down with a cup of tea and a good book. Could there be anything better? Ok, maybe a whole pot of tea instead of just one cup and a REALLY GOOD BOOK by a FAVOURITE author which often actually includes TEA as well! But even your bog-standard cup of tea, sit down and book is a pretty winning combination.
In this vein, there is rarely anything I like better than sitting down with an Agatha Christie alongside my tea and getting caught up in a good old-fashioned ‘cosy mystery’, particularly when it’s one I haven’t read for ages and I can’t remember how it all turns out. I am quite likely to do a little skip and a jump (not while I’m holding my tea of course) on my way to the couch.
I started reading Aggie Chris (as Dame Agatha, Queen of Crime, is affectionately known to me and my sister) at the ripe old age of eight, when I used to pinch ‘The Seven Dials Mystery’ off my mum’s bedside table. By the time I was twelve I think I’d read just about every one of her works. Gosh how I loved them and, obviously, still do. Except that, on my most recent re-readings (at the much, much riper and slightly wiser old age of 32) I am vastly more aware of the extremely racist, classist and misogynist aspects of these otherwise very fun books. Of course Aggie Chris was a writer of her time, and many, if not all, of her works hark back nostalgically to a Golden Age (for the privilieged, anyway), even if that Golden Age was in fact itself mostly fiction, a bit like the world of PG Wodehouse.
But enough with the post-modernism (or whatever intellectuals are up to these days, it’s a while since I studied literature at university). It’s just that some of the more uncomfortable moments in the books offend me more than others and I need to get it out of my system.
For example, in ‘Taken At the Flood’, which I just finished the other day, the main(ish) female character, having nearly fallen for the handsome, devilish ‘bad lot’, ends up back with her steady, stay at home fiance of seven years, realising that he actually IS her one true love after being nearly strangled to death by him.
Her fiance almost chokes her to death for the excellent reason ‘If I can’t have you, no one can,’ and (once rescued in the nick of time by Hercule Poirot), she decides that she will in fact marry him because living on the edge of potential domestic violence at any time will actually be quite exciting and shows he is a REAL MAN!
Wowsers. Crikey. Yow.
It’s taken quite a lot of tea to wash the taste of this out of my mouth.