Deliciously Cozy Audio-books

I’ve come across the library collection of BBC audio-books and I love them, now that I’m home most of the time! Technology-adverse me has yet to invest in such a modern thingy as an i-pod… or even a portable CD-player… yes folks, I still have a portable cassette player that works… I hear you gasp!

I’ve listened to BBC dramatizations of Ellis Peters’ and PD James’ novels, but I rather have the original book read to me unabridged. Dramatizations are just like TV without images, it’s not the same feeling as a book.

Lately I’ve listened to Agatha Christie’s Elephants can remember (1972) and Lord Edgware dies (1933) read by Hugh Fraser (the actor who plays Hastings in the TV series). Both were a lot of fun, and listening to them made me realize a lot of double-entendre that had escaped me when I’d read them as a teenager. I was an intensive consumer of Christie’s mysteries back then… it was like having an ice-cream binge, you’re not very selective and careful about texture and flavor when you just swallow one after the other.

I especially liked how Poirot highlights his role as an outsider in Lord Edgware Dies… : because he’s a foreigner, what he’s told does not matter as much as if he was British. I think it tells a lot about the British mentality of that time, all the more as the plot around Lord Edgware has a lot of innuendos about English and American differences (Lady Edgware being an American actress who married a British Lord and who wants to get rid of him).

In Elephants Can Remember, the mood is slightly melancholic. Christie was already 82 when she wrote this, and it has a lot to do with old people going down memory lane and remembering past crimes. It takes a long time to understand why anyone would be interested in solving a mystery that happened about 15 years before (this part is a bit shaky, in my opinion), but it soon becomes a case where everyone misremembers circumstances and throws the investigation in a totally new direction.

This novel features Poirot but also Christie’s comic alter-ego, amateur sleuth-cum-mystery writer Ariadne Oliver. I love how Christie lets her speak about mystery writing, how her imagination runs wild with the slightest dramatic hypothesis. The opening scene at a literary luncheon is very funny when shy Ariadne doesn’t know how to accept her readers’ compliments and tries to pull through with polite platitudes. Then a total stranger asks her the question that will kick off the whole investigation: “I’ve always wondered… Did her father kill her mother or did her mother kill her father?”. This is such a good opening line, don’t you think?

PS. I’ve just realized that Lord Edgware Dies was known in the US as Thirteen at Dinner. I wonder why Christie’s titles had to be changed when they crossed the pond…


3 thoughts on “Deliciously Cozy Audio-books

  1. I also love Agatha Christie novels. I associate them with long summer holidays when my family would literally take a shopping bag filled with them and pass them back and forth over the picnic table as we camped and hiked for three weeks. Such fun and such good memories. Christie was such a wonderful study of character.

  2. So many people read Christie when they were younger, but I was not introduced to her until I was an adult–so I feel a little left out. I do enjoy her novels now, and I can see how easily consumable they are. I wish they wouldn’t change titles when they publish them here in the US. I’ve noticed that a lot with other authors (like P.G. Wodehouse). It can be very confusing when you’re trying to figure out what you’ve read/haven’t read. I’ve thought of listening to Agatha Christie on audio as my library has lots of her novels. Have you read Dorothy Sayers’ Gaudy Night?

  3. Verbivore – a filled shopping bag? Talk about a binge!

    Danielle – haven’t tried Sayers yet but she’s on my list. Christie audio-books are perfect together with stitching or cooking, not if you need to concentrate on anything else because otherwise you’ll lose some clues!

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