Book Club #14 – Anne Frank – The Diary of a Young Girl

The decision to choose this book was based on one of our members going to visit the Anne Frank Museum in Amsterdam in a few weeks time and also taking her 12 year old daughter as well. So we all embarked on something which we had probably read before in our past, except probably our 12 year old, M.

I think this was the first book that no one had finished. I finished it, literally the day before but I admit to skipping bits and flicking forwards and picking entries to read.  We all came to this book as adults and also with a very modern point of view. Which is why I think we all struggled with it and some of us are not attending to finish it.

On the other hand, M reading it for the first time, was enjoying it. She had no preconceived ideas, no expectations and although she had touched on the subject so far in her education they had not certainly read the book. She understood what happened to the Frank family and those that lived in the Secret Annexe and what happened in concentration camps but that did not have the impact that it did on the adults to put her off the book. I think we have been exposed to more visual images of the time and the places to than M which perhaps subconsciously have affected our enjoyment of the book.   I think it is at that point that we all decided and as I mentioned in my own review, that it was a book you should read as a child. And when you think how much space and stuff children have, to see all that be reduced greatly and living in fear of your life made it rather a sobering read and might make some of the youngsters appreciate what they do have – there speaks all our mothers in the group.

I wonder what in 70 years time people would make of children of today’s diary. The language and the short hand would be a challenge for any reading group. And I wonder would it take into account all the stuff these youngsters may have written about their mother. I was particularly interested in the fact that she was rather harsh about her mother and that in subsequent editions of the book more has been added that she wrote about her. It seems her father felt that perhaps she would not have wanted these things to be said about her mother, I think that actually he was protecting his wife’s memories and L says he should be commended for such an action.

I did broach the subject that perhaps it was difficult to read, because it was in the form of a diary entry and some people find these a challenge. But then on the other hand, this was not fictitious this was real life and it was not a very nice life we were reading about. It was the waiting for the inevitable. Perhaps that was what the difficulty was. Then there is the fact that it would have been translation and obviously it is translated into the language and voice of the time, not of 21st Century Britain. L referred back to translating what perhaps her own daughter writes in her diary. C was curious to know whether her daughter, M wrote about, what she had for dinner, what she did etc. It seems that these things are still be written about and make for an outlet for young people (and old alike I am sure).

There are no easy reading group questions for a book such as this, I don’t think and the ones I found are not concentrating on plot, characters and setting. They concentrated on rather more deep and thoughtful questions about neo-Nazi groups, religious intolerance, accountability of what was going on at the time. I felt that it was difficult to lead the group in discussion because of this. One question – “Would our understanding of the Holocaust be quite the same if Anne Frank had not taken a small plaid diary into hiding with her?” did make us talk about what we learnt at school and how this was very much a personal record and it is important to have those to exist along the scholarly tomes where much of our history is learnt.

Upon reflection this is the first non-fiction book that we have read. Discounting Monica Dickens which I think was much fictionalised for it’s audience. It may be a while before we choose something non-fiction again. However it might be worth thinking about choosing a fiction book from our childhood and see how we get on with that.

C and M have promised to take lots of photos and share them with us and it was interesting to always get a child’s point of view when we read these books.

The next get together will be two books – S.J. Watson – Before I Go to Sleep and Grace McCleen – The Land of Decoration. We are certainly getting through a wide variety of books!


A Night on the Orient Express – Veronica Henry

It is the dream of many (myself included) to ride on one of the most infamous trains and going on a journey that has been made famous by books and the sheer opulence of the experience. At the moment I cannot go, but the next best thing is to read about it and so Veronica Henry’s latest novel combines everything to make it a journey that none of her characters can forget and her readers get that glimpse of romance, history and experience something they may never get the chance to do – and there is not a dead body or a little Belgian detective in sight!

Meet the passengers: Imogen who is on a mission to recover a painting from a friend of her grandmothers. By doing so she is opening up the past and learning something very surprising about her grandmother, Adele’s past. She is also running away from making a decision but it so happens that someone is trying to catch her to make her change her mind – perhaps this journey Adele sent her on was for more than brnging back a painting.

Riley has made a decision and he is going to ask the ultimate question to his ultimate lady. However, will his fame and her notoriety mean that it is all just another bubble he is living in? But surely being on the train on their annual visit to Venice should mean something after all these years?

Archie and Emmie are unknown to each other but they are about to be thrown together. Archie is fulfilling his best friend’s final wish before he died and Emmie has to thank her interfering sister. Both have been set up on a blind date via a dating website competition and it seems just churlish to refuse when you get to go on the Orient Express.

Stephanie and Simon are in the early stages of their relationship. But Simon brings baggage with him – his two teenage children; Jamie and Beth. They in turn have brought their problems with them. It does not look like this is going to be the relaxing trip that this family were wanting.

And so as the train departs we are embraced into these character’s lives and as the miles are covered, the scenery changes we learn more about these people all thrown together on a journey of some sort of another. There is heartache, romance, delicious food and glorious scenery. Veronica Henry has done her research and brought something to life and given it a real film star picture quality to the words, and lets us experience it all.

When they reach their destination – they all take different paths but it is the journey on the train which will bind them all together and the effect it has on their lives as they return to something called normality. Will they ever be same after a Night on the Orient Express?

Great escpaist read and if you needed something for hot sultry days and nights then this is the book – just as you need Agatha Christie – Murder on the Orient Express for cold, snowy dark afternoons. The perfect combination of books.

It is without a doubt that should I come into a fortune of some sort (I might have to start doing the lottery more often) that I would love to go on the Orient Express. I would also want debentures seats at Wimbledon but that is another story. 

I am off to dream…. and if Veronica Henry wants to do some research on perhaps another such journey I would be more than happy to carry the bags……

This is Veronica Henry’s latest novel and is available to buy now. 


Anne Frank – The Diary of a Young Girl

How do you review a book which is part of history? Probably very badly as I am sure everyone (or nearly everyone) knows the story of Anne Frank.

What you have with this book is the innocent story of a girl who goes into hiding in 1942 in Amsterdam to escape the Nazi occupation, her and her family, Mother and Father and Sister, Margot’s only crime being Jewish despite being German.

Anne recalls life in the Secret Annexe – the daily struggle to keep amused, educated, fed, entertained as well as the development of her own conscience and place in life in a world which is destroying itself. Added to this we have the confrontations with her mother, and the other people in the annexe.  

I remember many passages from when I read this when I was younger, but some of it was new to me or my memory had failed to recall it. The relationship that developed with Peter was rather sweet but one I am in no doubt would not have survived outside the walls of this hidden home. Anne was quite clearly intelligent and her writing was very concise and succinct. Her comments were rather adult for her age and she certainly developed into someone who had an understanding of the world and want to know more. Sadly that was not to be.

As an adult reading this (it was my book clubs choice) I felt I was intruding on something very personal, there was no excitement in reading a diary as if their had been years ago. As an adult, knowledge and experience suddenly make you view the book very differently – I was rather shocked and Anne having to share a bedroom with Albert Dussell (the name she gave Fritz Pfeffer in her diary) but the adults thought nothing of it. It was all about trying to survive. It was in some ways I had lost my innocence view of everything since becoming older than Anne – but when you read the book when you are around Anne’s age – that innocence is still there.

I am glad I have revisited this book as an adult. And I am in no doubt that everyone should read it but I think they should read it at around the same age range as Anne herself.  It is a strange thing to pick up a book knowing the ending before reading anything and also having the knowledge of that ending which Anne did not when she started writing her diary.

A moving thoughtful read.

This was my book club’s choice for July and I will report back on how we got on with it. 

I am trying to remember what the programmes were like which I recall watching when I was young on the television, I am sure on a Sunday afternoon / tea time. It was around 1987 the programme came out (thank goodness for the internet!) and I would have been about 10/11 at the time so I was probably at the age which is where it affected me the most. There was a more recent adaptation in 2010, which I chose not to watch, probably because you know what is going to happen and I think that was the whole crux of the book. In that respect it is something that everyone should know about – whether it is to learn about history, the holocaust, victimisation, ethnic cleansing it reaches out an teaches us many things about the horrors of humans. 


Gone Girl – Gillian Flynn

Nick’s wife Amy has disappeared.

He comes back to their house to find that the front door is open, the lounge has been turned over and his wife is gone.

Nick has to be number one suspect; doesn’t he?

But the clues to Amy’s disappearance lead Nick to believe something else is going on?

Nick makes an appeal. Amy’s parents make a heartfelt plea. But something does not quite add up.

Is Nick really genuinely upset about his wife’s disappearance?

The structure of the novel, shows what is happening to Nick as the hours and days go by from Amy going missing. Interspersed with this is Amy’s diary entries of life as Nick’s wife and all the things that have been going on.

They say there are two sides to every story?

And with a complete twist just about half way in, you have to completely reassess everything you had thought about Nick and Amy.

I had to keep turning the pages to find out exactly what was going on – this book was not as I expected – and then I got to the end……..

Much has been written about this book, it has been contested as a must read thriller. And it appeared on my book shelf when all the hype was going on and there it remained until I felt it was time for me to read it.

That time has been (and now gone) and I have to say I can see why people are saying it is a must read. I can also see why some people were not so sure about it, it does take a big build up to get going and you might just have to persevere with it. I think it is worth it. It was a book that made me think when I was not reading it and made me want to devour all of it quicker than I could actually read. And still now, days after finishing it I am still wondering.

Do we really know what is going on?

Ooo this book got under my skin, and it was a book which made me want to read and not do anything else. I am interested to see what else the author has written and whether it will capture my imagination as much as this has done. 

Have you read it? Did you get engrossed by it? Or why is it just boring (according to a friend of a friend)?


Game Over – Adele Parks

Cas is a character within this book which you are either going to love or hate in probably equal measure. Cas works in the television industry, she is a producer on a tv channel that is losing audience figures by the day and needs to find a programme to make it stand out from anything else.

Cas hits upon an idea, an idea that will solve everything – a programme which relies on the general public turning up and watching a couple on the brink of marriage and whether they would ever be tempted one last time with an ex. It has elements of every reality tv show you can think of in there – and I think this book reflects the sudden fascination we have sitting on our sofas at home and watching other people’s lives fall apart. Cas thinks she is onto a winner, and this will enhance her career even further – it’s all she wants because she knows that no one can resist.

But then Cas, who uses men as a hobby and manipulates them purely for her own need suddenly meets Darren and she cannot convince him to be part of the television show which is sweeping the nation, and causing the wedding industry to take a financial hit.

Darren has something that Cas does not – morals and principles.

Cas is convinced that Darren will be easily swayed and sets out to prove something to everyone and herself.

How wrong Cas is!

And finally just when you think that actually you could hate Cas no more, she suddenly has a side to her that makes you think that all that hurt and bottled up anger and bitterness about the male sex, is just a front, is a protection against the one thing she cannot control – falling in love.

Sorry Cas, it looks like it is Game Over for you in this instance.

This is a great escapism read, that actually might hit on a reflection of they type of television programmes we watch and actually fill our schedules night after night. It was that which made me cringe slightly, and think how low can the entertainment business go to get viewing figures and reputations. This novel I think reflects that very well, under a basic girl and boy fall in love story, she just makes it that little bit more difficult for Cas but not for Darren, who I happily fell in love, because of his morals and his principles!

This is an author that I have come back to. I read some of her books in my early twenties, and I seem to be now going back and filling in all the gaps – though I know I had not read this one. I am sure a couple I have read over the last few years since I have been keeping lists and this blog, have been familiar but not to the point where I know exactly what is going to happen.


The Kissing Gate – Susan Sallis

I won this book in a giveaway last year. I have picked it up, because I wanted a read which was going to comfort and having read Susan Sallis before I thought I would be okay with this book. Sadly I was wrong.

While the basic plot line has some intrigue – three siblings, all brought together by second marriages and relationships live with very famous parents but do not have the limelight for themselves until one day when an world changing tragedy changes that and suddenly their parents are no longer in the limelight. The three siblings have to try and make a path for themselves for the future. Two, Gussie and Ned, have parents that they can go to and rebuild something with. Jannie with no parents now has to find something else.

The book jumped everywhere, the famous father and mother, were well known in the art world. But that was not very clear, and when you then introduced into it former partners and then a sister it became very confusing. Not helped by the strange names of the children reflecting a free spirited lifestyle outside of the norm – Gussie is really August and Jannie, is January.

The story was set in a village in Cornwall and then it flitted around with a rather lost Jannie. Then across to New York to face the truth and see into the future, and then to a remote island for Ned and the south of France for Gussie. With this much travel, you would think that something good would come out of it for the characters, it may well have done, but for me it passed me by and they just seemed to wallow in all their mixed up emotions and actually not getting anywhere.

So why did I finish the book? I ask that myself, because it was written well and structured fine, it was just the characters and the plot were so wrapped up in tragedy that I could see no light in the book, and even the ending did not seem right, just another way of mixing up the emotions of these rather damaged individuals.  I finished the book, because I thought it was going to get better, it didn’t.

I know life is too short to read bad books or ones that you are not enjoying, but this really is a book which I wish I had abandoned, because it was just not working for me at all. 

I came acvross Susan Sallis, many years ago when I was making that transition from teenage books to adult books and read some of her family saga based novels which I really enjoyed. I know I was looking for something similar when I picked up this book to read and I did not get it and feel cheated. It might be a while before I risk another one and that makes me feel sad. 


The Opposite of Falling – Jennie Rooney

Ursula Bridgewater, is unmarried after being jilted by her fiance. She seems to take this in her stride and she has rather embraced her single life, and wants to take her independence and explore the world. Her reasons for doing so are probably about thirty years ahead of their time, because it is the 1860s and women have only one role to play.

Thanks to Thomas Cook, who is starting out his business with escorted tours all over the world, Ursula embarks on journeys and adventures which take her to places that have only been seen through the words of others describing them. She could only read about such paces not actually visit them.  In contrast her young companion she selects for the journey to America and to Niagara Falls, Sally has no ambition she is an orphan. She is sure that she will simply live in a service role for the rest of her life, whether it be in the orphanage or out of it. Sally has some sort of spirit that makes her stand out from the rest which was the result of a rather upsetting encounter when her mother dies. Sister Thomas of Holy Ghost thinks her spirit is not of a godly one and when after some rather strange events at the orphanage occur, Sally is somewhat rescued by Ursula.

They encounter a man Toby O’Hara who just like Ursula is ahead of his time, he has much more freedom of course being a man but he is trying to do something, he is trying to fly. He has something to prove to his father about the obsession of flying and put right something that happened to him in the past. A memory that has seemed to haunt him and haunted his father as well. When he travels to Niagara Falls where he sees an opportunity of viewing the great water from a different angle – from above he encounters this rather strong independent woman Ursula and her rather quiet shy companion Sally. For all of them, being up in the sky floating is going to change their worlds forever.

This is a book which I cannot neatly describe where it should fit. It is a crafted story, as delicate as the machine that Toby is trying to create as well as a novel where fears are challenged and the time period 1860s and 1870s Liverpool and America bring with it a historical setting. It is a very slow novel, I think as reflection of how slowly times was changing for everyone for independent women as well as inventors of the future. In some places perhaps it was two slow and I was expecting a much more pacier read. However, upon reflection it would not have been a book which stuck with you as much if it. This was a book of discovery and after so long I wanted to see how it was all going to end for the characters, it just took me a while to understand them. It might not necessarily take you as long?

I picked this book up to read, because I recall seeing it on another blog many moons ago and so it had been sat in my wish list on amazon for a while. Then when I saw that Jennie Rooney was coming to a reading event I was going to, I thought I should read it and see what sort of book it was and whether I was going to enjoy listening to her. I did enjoy listening to her, but I think her current novel Red Joan, maybe a bit more my sort of book. What I did like with this particular novel was that she took real life events, the start of Thomas Cook and his tours and the flying machines made them into stories and gave voices to people who were experiencing such things. 

Books · Witterings

Reader’s Day – newbooks Magazine 2013

They did it again. Guy, Alison and Madeline plus many others at newbooks magazine decided to do it again and do it better for their second Reader’s Day. You can read all about the first one here.

And they did it again with aplomb!

Having learnt from last year, it was different venue, more spacious, more light. Refreshments were included and this time so was lunch!   Which I must say far exceeded the lunch I had at Guildford Book Festival Readers Day. Thank you Jane. They even managed to somehow sway the weather so it was dry enough to make use of the outside space once lunch came. My only observation that perhaps time allocated for lunch could have been a little bit shorter – say 45 minutes, as many were drifting back and there was a little bit too much hanging around.

However minor this may be the authors were certainly not. They were now in the major category. First up was Sadie Jones, author of The Outcast, Small Wars and The Uninvited Guests who have seen speak before (Guildford Book Festival) all books I have read and enjoyed and all books which were something so completely different from the one before. Sadie is lovely to listen to and I look forward to her new book.

Next up, in a rather female dominated first half (Guy was certainly outnumbered any way during the whole day!) was Jennie Rooney who was there to talk about her book Red Joan, but also about her life. I had started The Opposite of Falling and was around half way through so I took that with me to be signed. She kindly did and wrote that I needed to finish it too! I have obeyed these instructions and did. What fascinated me about Jennie was she was much younger than me and had done so much with her life, and in fact being an author was not her full time role, this was merely a sideline or perhaps her main job as a lawyer at the FA is really the sideline?

Red Joan sounds like a novel that I would enjoy and I have added it to my list of ‘to reads’. Popular as it was on the day, where they were selling books they had run out of all of them. I actually did not buy any books whilst there – finances dictated as such, which was a shame as I could quite easily have bought many and had them all signed.

Still outnumbered Guy introduced us to two male authors, for the afternoon session – one I had heard of Ben Aaronvitch, who has apparently a cult following and one I had not Fergus McNeill, a debut author and a local at that. I had no idea what I was expecting and I was certainly surprised.

First up on stage Ben Aaronvitch was witty, wise. Why does he base his books in London – that is what he knows and where he lives – why make hard work for yourself? He has that edge of cynical humour that made me wonder – ‘why have I not read any of this man’s books?’. The reason was probably summed up by another lady in the audience – that because they are pitched as fantasy and science fiction they are alienating many a new reader. So say I too. Two categories which I get no enjoyment from at all, with the probable exception of Harry Potter. I aim to rectify this and spread the word. I have dug out an old copy of newbooks where he has been featured and I am starting to be introduced to Peter Grant. It had some reminiscences of the Bryant and May stories by Christopher Fowler and I enjoy them so I should see no reason why I should not enjoy these.

Now you could say Fergus McNeill had a lot to live up to. He did but he did it so well, that actually referring back to Ben’s point of being annoyed about being asked the question – why write about London? Fergus actually went through many journeys, train and walking to get the experience of some of his characters. Even featuring a house that ends up being the place in a the book that someone gets murdered – and then meeting said owner of the house. To the point where actually it became it bit too real and then when real life events suddenly took over one Christmas, it seemed his debut novel was about to never reach the book shop shelf. It did and I think if you are a fan of crime, you are going to enjoy these, more so for me as some of the places are fairly local there is always that recognition bit which brings that element of reality to it all.

And as I said at the beginning Guy, et al have done it again! They successfully combined four very different authors with a room full of very different readers who have come from far and not so far to experience a very full and educating Saturday. I wish I had the money to have bought books, I wish I was not feeling so ill that I was debating about whether I was going to make it or not, I am glad I did, but it probably set me back a few days recovery. I wish that I could attend such events as these more often.

I loved listening in to conversations on books and I recognised a few people from last years event. I would have been more communicative if I had been a bit brighter. I was not quite sure about the relevance of the name badges, was it needed or not? Although mine did cover up where I dropped toothpaste down my top, so it did have a use. I also did something which has perhaps given a gilded view on my day as I write this days after I went. I did not make any notes, simply I forgot, but actually spotting someone who was making copious notes I wondered if I picked up more than I would have done, as I was so intent on listening. Pausing to write you can sometimes lose the next thing that is said. You want to savor the day as much as you can and it is always difficult to get it right.

I look forward to see who they get next year, and I will be there without any doubt, especially when I know what I am getting and it is a mere train journey away for me.


Book Club #13 – The Secret Life of Bees – Sue Monk Kidd

I know I should always write up my book club reports soon after they happen, as it is amazing how much you forget despite me making scribble notes along the way. But I will give it a go, even if it was a few weeks ago!

So the book was The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd, the reaction was mixed. We liked it, but we did not. I found it a bit schmaltzy, C was a bit wishy-washy about it, S had to suspend belief and think of it as a fantasy, K liked it but actually thought the film was better, which was a talking point in itself. L liked it and L liked the fact that it took you back in time. W could not get on with it, so did not read very much of it all. The voice of Lily was too disturbing in some ways.

C said it was a real gutsy women orientated novel and that it showed good strong characters, our favourite I think was August who seemed to be the strong one that held everyone else together. August was the main mother figure within the book, certainly and in our opinion the ‘queen bee’. Mothers was a theme through the book and discussion about the loss of Lily’s mother, did she really play a part in her death. Lily was angry and she was going on a journey to find out about herself as well as her mother. The feature of the Black Madonna made for interesting reading and discussion, and thanks to the wonders of technology, I was able to bring up a picture of one depiction for everyone to see. The only person that we could think of that came close to a similar role was that of Mother Teresa in modern times.

Women come together in this novel, just as we had all done to discuss the book and we all agreed that it was important to connect, to be nurtured and loved by others and of course to eat cake and drink wine! But on a more serious note it gave support in many different ways to us and to the characters of the book. It was what Lily seemed to be missing in her life.

The only support she had, was from Roasaleen, and as we all said, you had to keep reminding yourself that this was a white girl and a black woman in the American south of the 1960s. A very controversial and dangerous time, which is why Rosaleen gets herself into trouble in the first place. Lily was an innocent forward thinker in the respect that she had no colour prejudice, she could not see what others were seeing, especially when it came to Zach and she started to experience the first flushes of something that could be recognisied as love. Rosaleen was a character that made us laugh, the way she was determined to see prejudice gone from the world she lived in. Even if she got into trouble along the way and lacked any grace or manners.

Love was missing for Lily, from her father and when he does appear again quite late on in the novel it is a very frightening experience when Lily starts to learn the truth of her mother and her death and how much her father loved her mother and how much of her mother was in Lily. We were unsure if Lily ever saw her father again after the turning point, if she did it was only through guilt and not through love. He was a cold man who was embittered by anger and the memory of his lost wife. He could not love Lily which we decided that was what she wanted.

This was a thought provoking book, which was an easy read, with no twists or turns. It was a book with a journey in it and no particular destination to reach. It flummoxed S who had to suspend the fact that she could not see where it was going and just roll with it. It was just sheer coincidence that Lily happened to stumble across the picture of the Black Madonna on a honey jar, in the same town, where it was produced by the same women her mother might have known! The book is black and white and the film is colour. K intended no pun here, but what she was trying to get across well, as she does,is that it is a much more visual story than perhaps any amount of words can convey. We have all decided now to watch the film, when we go away later in the year and see after a few months since having read it what we all thought.

And so I think this is a fair reflection of what we discussed on the night and we move onto another female orientated book which also is in our history – The Diary of Anne Frank.


No More Dying – David Roberts

Verity and Edward are an engaged couple, with rather different backgrounds and differing political views. Verity is a paid up member of the Communist Party, Edward a Lord and aristocrat. But love conquers all they say and theirs is going to be an interesting marriage if they ever get there.

Edward has previously done some work for the government, the secret service, and he is called upon again when it looks like there is a threat made on the life of Winston Churchill. They believe that it may have something to do with the American Ambassador, a Joseph Kennedy. Can Edward gain any knowledge from the American if he meets him?

Verity, a journalist and rather doubting the ways that the communist party are going, also wants to meet Joseph Kennedy, to get an interview would be a coup. Especially as he is rather aghast that the Briton’s think they will win any sort of fight with the Germans.

When both Edward and Verity get the chance to go to Cliveden, home of the Astor’s and also where Kennedy is staying , they think they may well be able to get to the bottom of everything that is going on….but then a dead body turns up…..and he had previously been to see Verity, but she had dismissed his accusations as nonsense….but perhaps he was right.

And so a murder mystery story with two rather interesting characters with forthright opinions and their own plan in life investigate this murder in 1939, where Hitler is moving fast and forward in his plan and the Italian Fascists, the communists and even the Irish dissenters all play some sort of part. This was a very interesting read and at times I felt I was reading something much more than what could be described by some no doubt as cosy mystery. This was more like a history book made accessible to the masses with some interesting twists and turns and the inevitable red herring or two. If you like murder mystery with more of an actual place and time then I think this series of books is ideal reading.

I picked this up on a whim in a bookshop, thinking I was getting a cosy mystery to be honest. I did and I got a lot more besides, it was fascinating, and I can see that I am going to have to go back and read the first 8 (this is book 9 of a series of 10) and get a bit more background on the characters because I did feel I was missing something. I also liked the historical note at the end of the book, which gave you what happened to the real life characters which were used in this book. It is something which Agatha Christie, never did, use real life people in her novels. It would have been very interesting to see Poirot or Miss Marple interact with Churchill.