Thank you for reading, and welcome to new subscribers! (If you’re seeing this occasional newsletter for the first time, you may have participated in a book bundle giveaway in October. I do hope you’ll stay on the list!)
We’ve been talking about Agatha Christie’s holiday home, Greenway, and how the house had a role World War II—some might even say in winning it.
Interested in catching up on Death at Greenway research? The archive is here.
Thank you if you've already read the book!
Bookstore, library, ebook, paperback, hardcover collector's, audiobook, WHATEVER. If you've read it and liked it, would you mind telling another person you think might like it, too? Or wrap it up today for the Christmas tree, last-minute style?
• A cheaper way to spread the word is to review it or share it on social media!
Review at Goodreads or wherever you bought your book. Yes, tell the library staff if that's where you read it! "Review" can just be a few words about what you liked. Or just share a picture of the cover on your social media. No one gets tired of book posts, do they? I don't.
Speaking of book posts...
I put together a list of a few books I really loved this year for Chicago Review of Books
(not all are Chicago-centric, but a few are)!
• My 2020 book (yes, remember 2020?) The Lucky One
has been chosen for a literacy program called Illinois Reads! Some events coming up for that, so watch for those next year. Here's the full list of chosen books
, for readers of all ages!
But a little more Greenway-specific stuff is in order, too, of course, and then I'll let you get back to your figgy pudding.
• The famed actress Moira Quirk was the reader for the audiobook of Death at Greenway
—and she ran away with an Earphones Award for it from AudioFile Magazine! This is an award for HER, but I like to think I helped her out, right?
• A reviewer at NPR (yes, THAT NPR) says Death at Greenway
is "wonderful" and I am proper chuffed (happy, proud). The review is brief and deep into an interview at 21:00 here
if you want to listen. I listened twice just to be sure.
• I did a short, fun interview about getting the language and voice of Death at Greenway as 1940s British as I could for the Grammar Girl podcast
• I might have been successful with that 1940s business, because the Historical Novel Society noted Death at Greenway as an editor's choice
And Crimereads put Death at Greenway on its list of Best Historical Crime Novels of 2021!
• There's a much more detailed article from the Chicago Reader
about me and this book here, if you're not up to your neck in me and this book already.
• But there's always room for tea, isn't there? I put together some lovely photos on the many teas
I had to "research" for Death at Greenway. Well, someone has to do it. Thanks to Deborah Crombie for the invite to Jungle Reds! A small sample... this is an image from the tea party my (talented writer) friend Mary Anne Mohanraj threw for my book launch! More photos from the party at the link, too!
All right then. Enough of that American bragging and preening.
In my last newsletter I talked about visiting Greenway—twice!—and staying there for three nights to research the grounds. I never get tired of talking about Greenway but I suppose I need to get to writing another book. So I thought I would round up these Death at Greenway-focused letters with a few last facts you might enjoy.
In the local village, Agatha Christie was known as Mrs. M (Mrs. Mallowan being her married name, and she was very proud of her married name and her second husband, Max Mallowan, an archaeologist). She was also known as a generous benefactor of the local schools, especially at Christmas, and at her local church in Churston Ferrers, where she donated funds for a damaged stained glass window.
Here's the window, which depicts Jesus Christ as the Good Shepherd. The story goes that Agatha wanted the new window to use a less grim story than the one that had been damaged.
Greenway House and its surrounds were very important to Agatha. She'd grown up nearby in Torquay but sold the family home (her mother had died many years before) to own Greenway. She and the family always spent time there in September for her birthday and at Christmas.
And every Christmas there was a new "Christie for Christmas" in the shops for all to enjoy!
Some more Christmas-related Christie trivia...
• After the house was requisitioned by the Admiralty for the War effort (and the group of evacuees turned out—fuller details in Death at Greenway
), the Mallowans had little access to the house until it was returned to them at war's end—on Christmas Day, 1945.
• In my research for Death at Greenway
, I found an evacuee's telling of his adventures elsewhere in Devon. He remembered going looking for a Christmas tree with his hosts and being surprised that, in Devon, a traditional tree was a holly tree! I had to look that up, too
• Christmas was a special time for Agatha her entire life, but it might also have had a shadow cast on it. December 24, 1914 is the day Agatha Miller married her first husband, Archie Christie. It was a happy marriage for at least some time and birthed both Agatha's only child, Rosalind, and her successful publishing career.
Just for fun!
• Why is Agatha Christie so popular year ’round, then and now? Book Riot attempts an answer (with a little nod for Death at Greenway!) here.
• Are you looking for ways to British-up your holidays this year? I'm all out of Great British Bake Off! I found this recipe for a Christmas pudding
(we really don't have an equivalent in America, do we?) If you try it, let me know the results! I'm tempted to try myself. I'm more likely to try this one than one of Agatha's real recipes, I think. Here's one that was published in a book collected of celebrity cookery during rationing called Kitchen Goes to War
Thanks to the National Trust for letting me look through things like this!
• Are you also out of Great British Baking to watch? I recently read this delightful modern LGBTQIA romance
on the recommendation of Elizabeth Little (whose books I also freely recommend!). The main character is a contestant on the show but does she win? What do you think? Check out all my recent recommended reads
at my Bookshop list. I also have a list of further reading if you're missing Greenway
as much as I am!
HAPPY HOLIDAYS and a healthy new year for you and yours!