Over the past couple of days I have been exploring round Dartmouth and enjoying it very much. There are so many gorgeous houses on the edges of the town – and over the river around Kingswear – and what with those and the palm trees I feel as if I am in an Agatha Christie novel. I can practically see people walking to tennis parties. This is the heart of Agatha Christie country after all
Unfortunately whenever I am here there seems to be an awful lot of building work going on. The walls and fences springing up around those houses make them look more like fortresses and I am convinced they looked much more welcoming in their heyday. I appreciate that the owners don’t want people all over their lawns but four private notices on one gateway does seem excessive. All the pretty blocked up gateways make me very sad too – and it doesn’t help at all that most of the houses are not lived in all year round.
However, I try not to dwell on that and just enjoy the sea air and gorgeous views. I neglected to take a Christie book with me but I did have A Tourist’s Guide to Murder by V M Burns which – completely fortuitously – involves a trip to Dartmouth and so was very appropriate. It is definitely the perfect place for reading cosy crime.
I have been reading Agatha Christie’s Sparkling Cyanide with a lovely group of people on Instagram and have been thoroughly enjoying it.
I haven’t read any Christie for a while and it has been years since I read this one. So much so that I genuinely had no idea whodunnit – which makes a nice change for me when I’m re-reading a book. This was a good one too – a long list of suspects who all seemed pretty plausible. Early on I did single out the love interests and write them off as suspects but then I remembered that Christie is not Ngaio Marsh or Georgette Heyer. Anyone could have done it – including either or even both of the love interests – so they went back on the list.
In the end, I only guessed a few pages before the reveal which is always satisfying. I like to be able to work out the solution before the detective but it’s not so great when you work out the murderer right at the beginning of the book!
It was a lot of fun reading this with the others. There are always so many things which come up in the chats that I just don’t notice for myself when I’m reading and it is lovely to share my ideas with other people. We might not be able to have in person book clubs at the moment but this is just as good (especially as my book club would never read a lot of the books I would like to choose!).
I am just back from a week’s holiday in Dartmouth. I had a lovely, restful time and got to do a lot of reading.
No trip to Dartmouth would be complete without a visit to Agatha Christie’s house Greenway. She described it as, ‘The loveliest place in the world,’ and it really is beautiful. You can see that the views when she lived there must have been amazing, although the trees have grown up a bit now and obscure the view somewhat.
Some of the nicest things about the house are the bookshelves. A great many National Trust houses have libraries which are filled with books bought by the yard – all matching and never read. The books here were completely mismatched and looked very well read which made me so happy. There were naturally many different editions of Agatha Christie’s own books and I fell in love with this little bookcase on the landing. I want one!
Perhaps my favourite thing though was the drawer of imaginatively addressed envelopes which found their way to the house.
Of these, I was especially fond of this one which is just wonderful.
Of course, we had to walk down to the boathouse which features so prominently in Dead Man’s Folly. We had been listening to the audio book on the way down to Dartmouth and I finished it after our visit. I have read it before but it was fascinating to read it again and be able to picture the scene exactly.
Once in the boathouse we spent a long time watching the river from the balcony. It is such a peaceful spot and it is a lovely place to sit. There is a fireplace inside so I should think it would be wonderfully cosy in winter too. Whilst there I also got to sit in Agatha Christie’s own chair – it was made especially for her and she used to sit in it to look over her manuscripts. One couldn’t read anything but Dead Man’s Folly there and there was a handy copy lying on the chair with a useful label pointing me to the relevant pages.
We left by ferry and so walked down to the quay through the woods – the shortcut which so infuriated Sir George Stubbs. It was a lovely day and I’m sure I will be back again in the future.
“One benefit of Summer was that each day we had more light to read by.”
Jeannette Walls – The Glass Castle
I absolutely agree with the sentiment in this quote. Even though we have artificial light there is nothing quite like a summer evening spent outside with a book.
I generally read a lot of classics but I do like to intersperse them with lighter reads, especially in the summer. One August a few years ago I exclusively read Enid Blyton and it was wonderful.
Recently I have had a bit of a run of cosy crime books. I started with Agatha Christie’s The Man in the Brown Suit which I first read on an archaeology field trip when I was at college. There was a copy lying around the youth hostel which I naturally picked up and I loved it. I have always remembered it as one of my favourite of Christie’s books.
I was not disappointed on re-reading it either – I still loved it and just wish there were more books featuring Anne Beddingfeld.
What are you reading at the moment? Do you have any recommendations for good summer reads? I would love to hear them!