For as long as I can remember, my mother has been an avid reader of mystery novels. At my childhood home, the bookshelves were filled with books by P.D. James, Rex Stout, and, of course, Agatha Christie. In fact, it's the Christie novels that I remember most vividly. The dust jackets of The Mirror Crack'd, Three Blind Mice, and Murder on the Orient Express are all etched in my memory.
Although I'm not a mystery reader, I've been on an Agatha Christie tear lately. My father recently bought the DVD set of the Hercule Poirot series, and I've had such fun watching the episodes which, I'm embarrassed to say, I had never seen before. Not only are the episodes entertaining, but they only run around 45 minutes each- and that's about as long as I can devote to a DVD these days anyway.
Watching the series prompted me to borrow my mother's copy of Agatha Christie at Home by Hilary Macaskill. The book is an intriguing look at Agatha Christie's passion for houses, specifically her holiday home in Devon called Greenway. Purchased by Christie in 1938, Greenway was where the mystery writer and her family spent many a holiday. By all accounts, Christie was attuned to the finer points of running a house, from painting fireplaces (see below) to hosting house parties and even making homemade mayonnaise. And while I don't think one could call Greenway's interiors grand, there is an unassuming charm about the house, something that makes me admire Christie that much more.
Greenway is now owned by the National Trust and open for tours. The National Trust has also produced a short video about Greenway which features audio of Christie reminiscing about the purchase of her house. And if you're looking for something entertaining to watch, you should consider those Poirot DVDs. They're a welcome relief from network television.
A view of Greenway
The Morning Room at Greenway
Christie painting her bedroom's fireplace.
Christie's bedroom at Greenway.
The Drawing Room held Christie's Steinway piano. The mystery writer had trained as a concert pianist.
Greenway's kitchen with a blue Aga.
The dining room.
During World War II, Greenway was requisitioned by the Admiralty; during that time, Lieutenant Marshall Lee of the U.S. Navy painted the library's frieze, seen here.
The drawing room at Greenway.
Shelves filled with first editions of Christie's novels.
All photos from Agatha Christie at Home by Hilary Macaskill