11 February 2014

Review:ENDLESS NIGHT, Agatha Christie

Kindle copy (Amazon)

  • File Size: 705 KB
  • Print Length: 259 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0062073516
  • Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks; Reissue edition (February 10, 2010)

Synopsis (Christie site)

A young man falls in love and insists on building his family home on cursed gypsy land.

Some are born to sweet delight,Some are born to endless night.
Sadly, many who trespass upon Gipsy’s Acre are condemned to ‘endless night’ – usually due to an ‘accident’. For newly-weds Michael and Ellie Rogers, however, Gipsy’s Acre appears to be the perfect place to build a house and begin their married life.
True, Ellie badly sprains her ankle, and a rock is thrown through the window at dinner one evening – but that’s just inconvenient, not a curse.
Then, one day, she goes out riding and doesn’t come back…
Love and evil collide on cursed ground. The title Endless Night was taken from William Blake’s Auguries of Innocence and describes Christie’s favourite theme in the novel: a “twisted” character, who always chooses evil over good.

Christie finished Endless Night in six weeks, as opposed to the three-four months that most of her other novels took. Despite being in her seventies while writing it, she told an interviewer that being Michael, the twenty-something narrator, “wasn’t difficult. After all, you hear people like him talking all the time.”
The story was adapted for film in 1972, starring Hayley Mills and Britt Ekland, however Christie felt the added sexual scenes were unnecessary. It was adapted for BBC Radio 4 in 2008 and a graphic novel version of the story was released later that year. Endless Night was also adapted for TV in 2013 with the added character of Miss Marple played by Julia McKenzie.
The book is dedicated to Christie's relative Nora Prichard, who first mentioned a field called 'Gipsy's Acre' on the Welsh moors.
My Take
This is one of the Christie titles that I really don't think I have read before.  I've certainly seen at least one TV or film version, even the one that recently introduced Miss Marple as an extra character.  I thought poor Miss Marple was put in extraordinary danger and had her physical powers fully tested in that one. As a general rule I don't like these plot modifications.
ENDLESS NIGHT was however written as a stand-alone and in it Agatha Christie returns to the writing exercises of the unreliable narrator, and exploring the mind of the psychotic killer.
The author does not really play fair with the reader, because we don't ever get the full picture all at once. Little bits are left unexplained. Ellie's American relatives are portrayed to us by the narrator, Ellie's husband Michael Rogers, as predatory and untrustworthy, and there are characters like Michael's mother, who could have explained so much, who remain elusive and shadowy,  because Michael does not want us to meet them.
Divided into four books, the novel takes quite a long time to build up to Ellie's death, and then the events that follow. There is an almost Gothic quality to the story: American heiress, quick marriage in defiance of her advisor's wishes, cursed land, gypsy woman who tries to scare the heiress.
An enjoyable read, part of my quest to complete the Agatha Christie Reading Challenge.
My rating: 4.4


Irene said...

I've not read this one either. I shall have to look for it. I'm sure it is not on my shelf.

Margot Kinberg said...

Kerrie - I think that's what makes this story work for me: that successful use of the unreliable narrator. I thought Christie did it very effectively here.

vicki (skiourophile) said...

I can't believe they stuck Miss Marple in it! It is an odd one - very surreal in places.

Anne H said...

Putting Miss Marple into this book in the latest series with Julia McKenzie was ridiculous. As the character was presented, Miss Marple was besotted with the young man, Michael Rogers, practically swooning over him. The real Miss Marple as depicted in the books would have taken one look at him, decided he reminded her of so and so (a very bad lot) and that would have been that.
Agatha Christie had all her marbles when she wrote the book, this version of Miss M had quite lost hers.


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