Posted by Julie at Oct 17, 2012 8:00 am
My daughter has been assigned that book for English class. After Animal Farm, this is a breath of fresh air! I’ve actually never read an Agatha Christie novel, though she was super popular with my students back in the day.
On Sunday, I took her and my mother to see a local production of the stage play. It was FANTASTIC. Only one set and they used so effectively. The acting was spot-on, the costuming perfect, the special effects and music INCREDIBLY creepy and the storyline, from the screenplay adapted by Agatha Christie herself, was engaging and clever.
So now I’m reading the book. I try to read the books my daughter has to read so that we can discuss them. It’s very close to the stage production (which has a different ending than the book) but Dame Christie does one thing that is driving me, the modern reader, a little batty: head-hopping!
Head-hopping is when an author changes point of view…OFTEN. If they change once or twice a scene, that’s not necessarily head-hopping. One or twice a PARAGRAPH? Hoppity, hoppity, hoppity!
I know what she’s trying to do. She’s trying to establish that all the narrators are unreliable, since one of the ten people who have gone to Soldier Island is a sociopathic serial killer and she doesn’t want to give away who that is. It was probably a “novel” novel structure at the time, but it would never fly in today’s mysteries. The reader literally cannot figure out who the killer is until she reveals it in the epilogue because for the whole of the book, she’s lying to you.
I don’t mind the occasional unreliable narrator, but since I know that’s what she’s doing ahead of my reading, I’m ferreting out indications or clues that might have pointed readers to the killer. So far, there are a few. Nothing glaring. However, if you’ve watched as many episodes of Criminal Minds as I have, it’s pretty obvious who the killer is based entirely on victimology. :-)
Nevertheless, I’m enjoying the book quite a bit. It’s compelling, even though I know exactly what’s going to happen.
So have you read Dame Agatha Christie? And if you haven’t, any other mystery authors who grab you?