Reading progress update: I've read 38 out of 784 pages.

Agatha Christie’s Complete Secret Notebooks - Agatha Christie, John Curran, David Suchet

One for the Ariadne Oliver fans:

One of her most personal creations, Ariadne Oliver, is generally accepted as Christie’s own alter ego. Mrs Oliver is a middle-aged, successful and prolific writer of detective fiction and creator of a foreign detective, the Finnish Sven Hjerson. She hates literary dinners, making speeches, or collaborating with dramatists; she has written The Body in the Library and doesn’t drink or smoke. The similarities are remarkable and there can be little doubt that when Mrs Oliver speaks we are listening to Agatha Christie.

 

In Chapter 2 of Dead Man’s Folly Mrs Oliver shrugs off her ingenuity:

 

‘It’s never difficult to think of things,’ said Mrs Oliver. ‘The trouble is that you think of too many, and then it all becomes too complicated, so you have to relinquish some of them and that is rather agony.’

 

And again, later in Chapter 17 she says:

 

‘I mean, what can you say about how you write your books? What I mean is, first you’ve got to think of something, and then when you’ve thought of it you’ve got to force yourself to sit down and write it. That’s all.’

 

It was as simple as that and, for half a century, exactly what her creator did.

 

I'm loving the book so far, even if Curran had me worried at the beginning of Ch. 2 that he might rely more than is warranted on two other biographers (I tried samples of both of those biographies and couldn't get excited about them), but it appears that was just a passing reference and acknowledgement of other research out there.

 

I'm also fascinated by Curran's exploration of the "methodology" - if we can call it that - of the notebooks. It appears that Dame Agatha used every available space (only partly due to paper rationing during the war years) and wrote side-ways as well as turned them over to get more use out of them. She also didn't use them chronologically. It appears that early ideas and notes are mingled with later ones. 

 

And for some reason, her handwriting became better with age. 

I hope my handwriting improves with age, too.