Read Christie 2023 – January

January’s theme for Read Christie is jealousy. A common enough emotion, but enough to kill for? This month’s reading choice was Sad Cypress which was first published in 1939.

What it’s about?

Elinor Carlisle and Roddy Welman are the model English couple, perfect companions set for a life of ease when they inherit Aunt Laura’s considerable fortune.

But a poison pen letter begins a chain of events which is to end in tragedy. Convinced that Mary Gerrard, a childhood playmate of Elinor’s, is attempting to ingratiate herself with her aunt for financial gain, the pair travel to the family home to investigate.

They find no evidence but Roddy falls desperately in love with the beautiful Mary, little realising that beneath Elinor’s restrained and unemotional exterior lies an almost obsessive passion for him.

Elinor obeys her aunt’s deathbed wish despite her heartbreak and gives Mary a large bequest from the estate. But when Mary is found poisoned, the evidence against Elinor is damning. It’s up to Hercule Poirot to find out if the case is as simple as it seems..

What I think:

Sad Cypress is unusual in that Poirot’s is not to find out who committed murder but to prove that someone did not.

The evidence against Elinor Carlisle is compelling and the trial is set to begin.

The book is divided into three sections: the build-up to the murder, Poirot’s investigation and then the court case itself, and the final revelations.

By writing from Elinor’s perspective, Christie leads the reader to believe that she is guilty. And she certainly is feeling guilty, but whether she is a killer remains to be seen.

This has all the classic Christie elements – a wealthy family, country house, servants and village gossip.

There were lots of clever details and twists – it’s all there if you know what you are looking for.

Poirot is both impressive and irritating! Christie herself described him as a “detestable, bombastic, tiresome, ego-centric little creep.” He’s definitely a smug man.

I found Elinor to be quite an annoying character – I didn’t really warm to her or care whether she she was found guilty. She didn’t really help herself at points which I found frustrating.

The resolution is twisty and clever and definitely keeps you guessing. I didn’t quite solve the mystery, but my suspicions were definitely on the right lines, so I’ll take that as a win!

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