HERCULE POIROT AND THE GREENSHORE FOLLY
By Agatha Christie
HarperCollins; UK edition (July, 2014)
Kindle edition: $2.99
by Larry Jung
Poirot is called to Greenshore House to attend a weekend fete in Devon where a murder mystery hunt will be part of the program along with the usual games and activities like fortune telling and throwing coconuts.
But pretend murder becomes a real murder, the solution of which will rock the occupants of Greenshore House. Fans of Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot mysteries will recognize the expanded version of this story as DEAD MAN’S FOLLY.
The previously unpublished novella “Hercule Poirot and the Greenshore Folly” is now available in an attractive little hardbound collector’s edition. Tom Adams, who produced over 100 cover paintings for Agatha Christie’s books, has done a special painting for the dust jacket, and full color end pages. He is a well respected artist in his own right and discusses in his Introduction to “The Green Shore Folly” how Christie’s literary craft has its counterparts with his own field. For Tom Adams, “Agatha’s work is a gift to the visual artist.” (Page 13)
It was not unusual for Christie to recycle bits and pieces of her short fiction into novels. The short story “Triangle at Rhodes” and the book EVIL UNDER THE SUN, even to the casual reader, are the same basic plot and characters. What makes “Hercule Poirot and the Greenshore Folly” a curiosity among Christie’s writings is the reason why she wrote it and why she found it impossible to sell it.
John Curran, in his Afterword to this book, relates how Agatha Christie wanted to finance a new stained glass window for the chancel of St Mary the Virgin Church in Churston Ferrers, where Christie worshiped. When this new Hercule Poirot mystery was finished, it ended up being impossible to sell: it was too short for a novel and too long for the magazine markets at the time. Eventually “The Greenshore Folly” was withdrawn from sale and Christie wrote another story that financed the new stain glass window. Christie saw plenty of good material in the novella and turned out the full length novel mentioned.
Curran further discusses how Christie went about elaborating and expanding the novella into a novel. He gives an excellent exposition of Christie’s craft and how she worked. He gives generous examples from Christie’s plotting notebooks. As John Curran writes, “This first-ever publication of ‘The Greenshore Folly’ affords readers a glimpse into the creative process of the world’s best-selling writer.” (Page 158)Since Christie wrote “The Greenshore Folly” for very personal reasons, she used her own Greenway House on the River Dart in South Devon as the location for the fictional Greenshore. Mathew Prichard, in the Preface, gives a loving remembrance of his grandmother Agatha Christie and Greenway House. All the scenes mentioned in the novella actually exist at Greenway: the house itself, the boathouse, the Battery, the ferry bell, and the Gate Lodge. Prichard invites us to enjoy Greenway House by watching the David Suchet’s TV episode DEAD MAN’S FOLLY and perhaps be able to visit Greenway House (open to the public since 1999) and sit in the boathouse watching the river just like he did as a child with his grandmother.
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