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The Harlequin Tea Set and Other Stories by Agatha Christie

the harlequin tea set and other stories

 

This review is long overdue! LA @wakinguponthewrongsideof50 and I did a buddy read in January. I have been wanting to talk about our opinions but I couldn’t until now. Procrastination! Hah!

LA and I enjoyed reading these short stories. We had quite a discussion about the ‘psychological’ aspects of few stories – The Edge, The Actress, While the Light lasts to name a few. I will not be taking credit for starting the discussion on this afore mentioned psychological aspects as LA came up with the topic.

Overall, we both had similar opinions about every short story in this book.

NOTE: This review + buddy read discussion contains spoilers.

The Edge is the first story in this book. It is about a Miss Goody shoes who is sweet as honey. When her childhood friend (and she thinks of him as a prospective lover) comes home with a wife, she’s devastated. What happens next is jealousy, envy, hatred and a handful of negative human emotions that one can think of.

LA and I started to discuss this story and she asked me: “How do you think Christie felt about women in general? Like, after reading the first two stories I’m not so sure, combined with past knowledge”.  This led to a further analysis of the characters – the girl in question (Clare) is sweet and then jealousy takes over – wait, it’s not over yet… the story ends with Clare losing her mind over killing her lover’s wife.

LA’s question got me thinking. A couple of AC’s books have women portrayed negatively. I took an example of Elephants can Remember and another of AC’s book set in Egypt (I do not remember the title – it’s got something to do with an evil mother who’s a pain in the backside!)

LA said: “I think there must have been a negative influence in her (AC) life.”

Later on, LA told me that AC’s first husband ran away with his secretary – maybe, this had something to do with the way women were characterized in her stories.

 

The Actress is about a blackmailer who gets blackmailed. LA and I loved this story. This story also reminded me of a Holmes mystery in which a man blackmails young ladies – something to do with love letters. Forgive me, I am bad at remembering titles of the books I read!

LA said: But see how Christie writes about women? Conniving enough to get away with murder, set up plots, twist men around? I can’t decide if she liked woman, respected them, or was scared of them. These early female character have so much depth to them…like the real mystery is what’s inside a woman’s head

Authors take inspirations for their stories from their day-to-day life. Possible that something similar happened around. I further speculated if the negative characterizations had something to do with an evil mother-in-law. *Devilish grin*

While the Light Lasts is a weird story. A lady assumes her lover died in the war, only to see him resurface in an African country. He pesters her to return to him but she’s married now. The story ends with the man killing himself.

LA and I felt there was something weird about the story. Also, there are a couple of racist remarks. So off putting!

 

The House of Dreams is about a man who lets himself be a victim of darkness. The house and the demon in it depicts the dark side of mental illness. LA said the house almost becomes a character. She felt this story had Stephen King like quality.

Here’s what I thought about the story: This story has an eerie feeling to it. The house!!! In the end, it completely engulfs him- the house and the thing. When Allegra was introduced, I did feel that she was weird. But I was thinking more on the lines of jealousy. It so happens that it was Maisie who was jealous (a tad, but still…) The weirdest part was, when Allegra dies, the house in John’s dream is empty – the last tenant has moved out, the house is black, the horses are black. Maybe ‘the house’ is human mind and ‘the thing’ is what happens when one cannot control their mind.

The Lonely God is about a ugly-looking figurine in a musuem and how it brings two lonely people together. LA said this story sounded like a bad romance novel. I couldn’t agree less. Creepy kinda romanctic story, if you ask me!

Manx Gold is a story about a treasure hunt in the Isle of Manx. This story was acutally written as a part of promoting tourism in the Isle of Man. LA and I spoke about how interesting this would have been, had we been in Isle of Man at the time this story was written. 😀

Within a Wall is again another love story gone bad. After three back-to-back ‘eh’ stories – While the Light Lasts, The House of Dreams and The Lonely God – we both found this story to be a refreshing read.

The Mystery of the Spanish Chest is a Poirot story! I remember seeing the TV adaptation of this story. A clasic Poirot mystery, do I need to say more? LA and I discussed about Mrs Clayton and how every man around her seems to be mesmerized by her beauty.

 

Such women could be, though innocent themselves, the cause of crimes.
 
Such women could be, in intent and design, criminals themselves, though not in action. 

The last story in this book – The Harlequin tea Set. This story was totally off! Mismatching Tea set, color blindness, the ‘mysterious’ Man in Brown Suit and Mr Satherwhite! Both of us did not like the story.

 

LA and I had super fun doing a buddy read. 😀 We have planned on doing another in March or April. Let me keep the book in discussion a secret. 🙂

 

5 thoughts on “The Harlequin Tea Set and Other Stories by Agatha Christie Leave a comment

  1. Ok…so funny you wrote this today because I’m going to be able to start our next buddy read Sunday or Monday!! Excellent synopsis of the stories!! 💗💗💗

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