During the Christmas holidays we spent a quiet, lazy afternoon doing a jigsaw together and listening to the French public radio, with a long interview of the writer Sonia Feertchak on Agatha Christie. A few weeks later I found at the library the same book among the new acquisitions: the universe was indeed trying to tell me something.
The author has read most if not all the novels by Agatha Christie and seen that out of 66 mysteries, 50 are crimes within the family. (How come hadn’t I noticed it? 😳 I’m kinda vexed). Making an inventory of all possibly toxic family relationships in there, and drawing links between the novels and Agatha Christie’s life, Feertchak provides a new way of reading the beloved mysteries.
Feertchak does not have anachronistic expectations, and surely Agatha Christie does not qualify as a feminist in the contemporary sense of the word. But because she is a keen observer of relationships and how some people exert power unto others, lie their way to whatever they seek (inheritance money, for example), Christie reports faithfully how some women are victims of emotional or physical abuse. It doesn’t mean that they are not able to plot a murder to escape the situation, it implies that at the heart of these mysteries there are dysfunctional families and abuse. There is also complicit silence from other members of the family, for often the abuse is known or hinted at.
Christie also tells what heavy price some people pay for speaking up, especially powerless women such as maids, as they are often secondary victims of the principal crime. In light of #me-too and #me-too-incest (especially in France in the last few years) Feertchak is highlighting parts of the books I read with a new perspective and I enjoyed it quite a lot. Now all I want is to go back to read some more Agatha Christie’s!