Books

At Bertram’s Hotel – Agatha Christie

Miss Marple is on a journey to her past. She has come back to Bertram’s Hotel where as a girl she can recall a splendid time being had. Many many years later she returns there but it is very much different for the Bertram’s of the past but at the same time it is much if not exactly the same and nothing has changed at all.

Miss Marple is naturally suspicious, there is more to this place than is obvious. Her friend Lady Selina seems to be recognising people for she knows that aren’t. The whirlwind celebrity that is Bess Sedgwick is staying there, delighting in shocking people wherever she goes and in whatever she does. Then there is Elvira Blake, staying with her godfather and guardian on the way to stay with cousins after returning from finishing school in Italy. She is desperate to break away from her guardians and start living her own life with her own money,without the conditions that go with the small fortune. Regular visitor, Canon Pennyfather, forgetful and muddled is using Bertram’s as a base whilst he goes to a conference. But then he forgets something quite important and seems to disappear. And then there all the American Guests; are they really here for a taste of Edwardian England in the Sixties?

The world is learning about jewelry thefts and train and bank robberies and the horror of the world and the police are not getting results. But among the decor, the food, the excellent service the police are watching what is going on at Bertram’s Hotel. Could there be a connection? Bertram’s remains removed from it all with its Edwardian Glamour and Afternoon Teas. But then with a twist of a plot which Christie is known for, this quiet little hotel is starting to become more prominent and when the noise of a gunshot is heard, it becomes even more well known. But all the time Miss Marple is watching and listening and slowly everything starts to fall into place.

A traditional Miss Marple story, which shows you a glimpse of her past and her position as well as the skill of seemingly being completely invisible to those around whilst taking everything in at the same time. Her astuteness and ability to compare characters to those from her beloved St Mary Mead, indicate that all the world can be seen in such a small village and that there is not always a need to come to London. But I think for Miss Marple, this was closing the door on the past.

A enjoyable Christie novel that ticks the right boxes.

I caught the Joan Hickson version of this book a few weeks back and remembered how different it was to the Geraldine McEwen one. I like both equally, the more recent version plays fast and loose with the story – in fact rather fast and loose. Whilst Hickson is very much as the book, and quotes lines from it quite clearly and concisely to get a sense of Christie’s true writing. 

What fascinated me more, was my love of stories in hotels, and also the fact that I had forgotten that this featured a Train Robbery. It is 50 years since what has become known as ‘The Great Train Robbery’ (1963) something which fascinated me, even more so when it was pointed out to me on Waterloo station on many a visit was where one of the perpetrators sold flowers. I wonder when Christie wrote this novel and added a train robbery into it she was referring to recent events? 

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2 thoughts on “At Bertram’s Hotel – Agatha Christie

  1. I am currently on an Agatha Christie reading marathon and although I have been focusing on Poirot your review has made me eager to get started on some Miss Marple too. Thank you!

  2. At Bertram’s Hotel is one of my favourite later Christie. Elvira Blake is a wonderful portrait of a young woman who uses people- quite without scruple.

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