The Other Side of Burgh Island
By Jaclyn A. Lurker
Last year, I wrote about the wild and (literally) free side of Burgh Island in South Devon, England, the part-time island that provided the
inspiration for Agatha Christie's novel EVIL UNDER THE SUN, and, quite possibly, AND THEN THERE WERE NONE. I had the opportunity
to again visit the island last September during the annual Agatha Christie Festival held on the English Riviera. This time, I visited the more
"civilized," that is, populated, side of the island. Only guests are admitted to the famous Burgh Island Hotel, unless one has a restaurant
reservation, or, in this case, a special event — the Christie "in character" brunch, complete with 1920-30s period dishes, specialty
cocktails, and period attire. The festivities at the Art Deco hotel, at which Christie herself stayed, were officiated by the efficient and
entertaining "butler." The hotel also provided a temporary home to artwork by Tracy Satchwill, collages inspired by the two novels
mentioned above and entitled "Sunworshipper" and "The Announcement."
During my 2012 visit, I hiked through the natural, rough adventurous side of the island. My 2013 visit was a completely different
experience, in both look and feel, from my previous exploration. During this visit, I felt more like I was stepping into the EVIL book (feeling more Christine
Redfern-ish) than NONE (Vera Claythorne-esque). Not least among the reasons was that I, like most of the other brunchers, was on
vacation as were the EVIL characters — who were vacationing on Smugglers' Island in the Jolly Roger Hotel.
There were still the steep cliffs and clear drops, but they seemed much less treacherous accompanied by benches, stairs, deck, raft, and
pontoon by the private beach. It is hard to feel uneasy standing on the hotel terrace — the beautiful landscape ahead of one, the
bay and the town further out, the din and chatter of merry, or, I should say, "jolly," diners behind one. From the bar to the dining room,
even to the loo, there is an air of refinery and sophistication, of modernity, which belies any fear. One feels as if the beauty alone were
enough to ward off any evil.
Discussions with my fellow visitors naturally turned to the EVIL novel and its venue. For example, we discussed if there was a storm in the
novel since the weather during much of our visit could more accurately be described as Evil under the Clouds rather than under the Sun.
A trek down to the private beach prompted friends and fellow visitors to re-create the body on the beach discovery scene.
Clearly, with all this activity and company, there was less of an AND THEN THERE WERE NONE feel to the visit than during the previous
year. And, yes, this side of Burgh Island may have been more social and inhabited; however, the island — the entire island —
is full of awesome views and striking — and inspiring — atmosphere.
More about Burgh Island and the Agatha Christie Festival:
Photos of the 2013 festival:
The Literary Lurker 2013 Agatha Christie Festival Blog:
Burgh Island on YouTube:
Jaclyn A. Lurker is a New York based writer/playwright and avid Christie fan.
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