which order is the best to read Miss Marple novels?

helsbels172helsbels172 Buckinghamshire, United Kingdom
edited April 2014 in All Miss Marple stories
Can anyone recommend the best order to read the Miss Marple books? I've read Murder at the vigarage so far. Some people say the publication order but some say read sleeping murder second as that was written after that one but wasn't published til alot later. I each case is seperate and can be read in any order but I want to read them in the order of how her life develops,her nephew,great niece etc Thanks


  • ginestraginestra Lombardia, Italy
    I think there is no order because there are all so enjoyable to read. I started reading in italian  : "Addio miss Marple"...the last one.. ;)
  • I think it is worth remembering that the very late ones are not very satisfying. I would read them decade by decade: 1930s ones, first, then 40s, then 50s. To be fair, I think that they all inhabit their own space, and are stand alone. If you have a difficult journey or time at work ahead, and want a really, really good novel to take your mind off things in the evening, I would save the most funny, feel-good and warm stories for this. Perhaps the best Marple is generally considered to be 'A Murder is Announced.' 'The Moving Finger' is very feel-good, and has a good narrator, as well as Miss Marple - she appears quite far in to the story. 'A Pocket Full of Rye' is quite intricate, so you need some concentration for it. I think that the short stories of Miss Marple are a bit slight, some of them, and you may want to read them after the very well-worked up and detailed novels, as a sort of historical exercise - or else, you might be a shade disappointed.
  • Tommy_A_JonesTommy_A_Jones Gloucestershire, United Kingdom
    Read them in the order they were Published, that is what I do that way you will read Brilliant ones either side of ones which I personally are my least favourites, to say The latter ones are less satisfying is your opinion Greselda which you are entitled to have just like I am entitled to say my least favourite is They Do it with Mirrors followed by Caribean Mystery followed by The Mirror Cracked and Pocketful of Rye jointly.
  • I'm afraid the only thing about which I agree with you, Tommy, is that the preference is personal - I really liked Caribbean Mystery, as well as The mirror Cracked, but I also liked Nemesis which is the last written. I would read them in chronological order, but of writing rather than publication - Sleeping Murder should be between "The moving finger" and "A murder is announced". It doesn't make sense to see "Sleeping Murder" as the final book, when in the later books (from The Mirror Cracked and on) MM is portrayed as increasingly frail, while in Sleeping Murder she is working in the garden and running upstairs! 
  • Tommy_A_JonesTommy_A_Jones Gloucestershire, United Kingdom
    I know this is fanciful but imagine Cherry who now lives closer to Miss Marple (Above stables I think) is helping Miss Marple into bed and Miss Marple says "did I ever tell you about the time I helped a young couple when they bought a House in Dilmouth? and Cherry says no and then we have the story, that is what I do. 
  • Tommy, that is a great idea!! Though I still prefer to insert "Sleeping" into its chronological place, I think that could be a fantastic frame for a movie. You are right, at the end of "Mirror cracked" Cherry and her husband are going to move to MM's house, to the rooms above the stables, and in Nemesis she is right there, unobtrusively keeping an eye on MM while preserving her dignity and independence. Cherry's exuberance and initiative thinking would make her a very good active listener to such a story, especially if parts of showing what originally happened would alternate with parts where MM is telling the story and Cherry is responding or asking questions.
  • tudestudes Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
    Griselda said:
    I think it is worth remembering that the very late ones are not very satisfying. I would read them decade by decade: 1930s ones, first, then 40s, then 50s. To be fair, I think that they all inhabit their own space, and are stand alone. If you have a difficult journey or time at work ahead, and want a really, really good novel to take your mind off things in the evening, I would save the most funny, feel-good and warm stories for this. Perhaps the best Marple is generally considered to be 'A Murder is Announced.' 'The Moving Finger' is very feel-good, and has a good narrator, as well as Miss Marple - she appears quite far in to the story. 'A Pocket Full of Rye' is quite intricate, so you need some concentration for it. I think that the short stories of Miss Marple are a bit slight, some of them, and you may want to read them after the very well-worked up and detailed novels, as a sort of historical exercise - or else, you might be a shade disappointed.
    I agree, @Griselda. I think, in general, the first ones are much better than the stories written in 60's, for instance. I love A Murder in Announced, the Murder at the Vicarage, The body in the Library,4.50 from Paddington, The Moving Finger. But, A Pocket Full of Rye and The Bertram´s Hotel not so much. The last one (TBH) is the worst Miss Marple, in my opinion.
  • Tommy_A_JonesTommy_A_Jones Gloucestershire, United Kingdom

    I am glad you like my idea Talivishay, I would dramatize The Moving Finger in retrospect to, Jerry would meat up with friends he hadn't seem since before what happened to make him have to recouperate. and tell them about The Lymstock Mystery

  • Tommy, that could be interesting. We could meet Megan briefly at the beginning - say when she kisses Tommy good-by as he leaves to meet his friends - and she is quite attractive and well dressed and hair-cut. and we don't hear her name - he calls her "darling" - and then have his friends ask him what he's been doing since his injury, and he starts telling them and then the scene changes to the past and the ill-groomed, unfocused Megan, and then through the movie she gradually becomes more focused, more self-confident and better-groomed, till at the end when he comes back home after parting from his friends we realise that this attractive woman we glimpsed at the beginning is Megan.
  • Tommy_A_JonesTommy_A_Jones Gloucestershire, United Kingdom
    They could meet on the stirs and kiss as he has just got changed and she is putting their new baby to bed, she could say that she will come when Jerry's sister and The Doctor have arrived to baby-sit. the the scene changes as he drives into the Pub Car-Park, and then at the end it is the Doc who arrives leaving the 2 at home or they could come aswell because the baby won't settle.
  • Verypleasing, Tali and Tommy. I think these imagined updates would be great, and less controversial for tv adaptation than messing with originals to make them novel. Start writing down your ideas so you don't lose them!!
  • Tommy_A_JonesTommy_A_Jones Gloucestershire, United Kingdom
    Now, Now Griselda I know you have a love affair with everybody involved with The AC Estate and would like nothing else other than having Adaptations which bear no relation to the books aswell as having this Website all to yourself so you can soothe your over-inflated ego but it is really unkind to take the micky out of us just because you have no idea what soever what would be enjoyable to watch, Come clean X Factor, TOWIE, Gordie Shore and Made in Chelsea is more your cup of Tea isn't it? Or am I being harsh and you really do think Tali and me have good ideas?
  • edited January 2016
    Tommy, have you totally lost it? Griselda was complimenting us! She meant that it was better to add a framework, and leave the story intact, than mess with the story itself. Right, Griselda? And Tommy, I like your baby idea very much. It would add to the contrast between the immature Megan of the story and the mature Megan of the framework.
  • Yes, Tali is right. I did like the ideas, and the option of a sequel is safer than trying to do the originals again and again. There is so much good dialogue in the AC novels, and the plot is progressed through it, so it never seems to work when directors change what the characters do and say . Directors can't be creative and still stay within the confines of the existing plots.

    I think it is safer to assume that people posting are not being sarcastic. Sarcasm doesn't work predictably in writing, so I think most people wouldn't choose to use it. 

    Sequels certainly worked well for the British tv series,  The Likely Lads.

  • I was wondering, Tali, why do you think Agatha Christie has presented Megan as she does? How are we supposed to read Megan? Some of the things she says about Shakespeare are rather reminiscent of Josephine in The Crooked House, so I suppose she is very clever. She is very-well drawn - mysterious. I even thought she could be the murderer the first time I read The Moving Finger. I wonder if Agatha Christie had something of her character when she was young?
  • You know, I never thought of that. I identified with Megan so strongly that I never thought of the question how Agatha Christie thought of such an unusual character. All I can say is from my own experience - I'm intelligent (according to I.Q. tests), socially inept (or was at Megan's age), also tending to loaf. I'm learning disabled and ADD. The lack of social and interpersonal skills go with the territory; Also the insight about characters in books, along with an inability to transfer that understanding to real human beings.  My thought is that Megan would probably have been learning disabled too. However, at that time learning disabilities were not known. (My own LD was only identified at age 33!) Given that about 5-15 percent of the population is learning-disabled, AC would have known people like Megan - probably without quite understanding them. Perhaps that is why, while Megan is a very complete character, Jerry and Megan's romance isn't 100% convincing.
  • Yes, I agree that the romance isn't quite convincing. It also showcases a lot of male, macho posturing on Jerry's part. Perhaps that was considered endearing in those times. I agree that Megan would have been learning disabled. It is suggested by Aimee Griffin's comments, but she was also drawn to be very highly intelligent and intellectual. Agatha Christie has put a great deal of work into her character. I think that Megan may have had what we would categorize, today, as Asperger's Syndrome. Her manner suggests it, and her indifference to social norms and liking for her own company. My son who is eighteen, has a diagnosis of autism, less high functioning than Asperger's Syndrome. No doubt, I've probably got traits too. I'm certainly hopeless at reading people's expectations and possible reactions in real life!! I would never suppose that yourself could be assigned a LD label though, Tali. 
  • edited January 2016
    How great that we have this forum where we can share our stories! And I think that this is one of the really great things about Agatha Christie - that her people are real, and make us think about ourselves or about people and relationships that we know. By the way, Aimee's characterization of Megan as not very bright is typical of people who encounter learning-disabled children - I also got a lot of criticisms that I was "Stupid", "Lazy" etc. Maybe that is why I feel so much sympathy for Megan. 
  • And another "by the way" - did you know that the Israeli Defense Forces have a special unit made up of Autistic soldiers, which utilizes their unique talents and abilities? One of the (many) reasons I'm proud of my country. 
  • Tommy_A_JonesTommy_A_Jones Gloucestershire, United Kingdom
    I apologise Griselda I Wrongly read it that you meant that Tali and I should write our ideas down so we can look back on to entertain ourselves when bored I do apologise unreservedly, my idea of including the baby seemed to me a logical progression which might also add to the resentment of at least one of the boys who would inherit his Father's Murderous tendencies. 
  • Tommy_A_JonesTommy_A_Jones Gloucestershire, United Kingdom
    I think the Romance between Jerry and Megan will be short-lived, when Megan gains in confidence with Jerry's help she will not need him and they will either be an Unhappily married couple like the couple in Sleeping Murder or they will divorce and Megan will be left to look after 3 Children.
  • Gosh, are you cynical! but you may be right. Megan's great attraction for Jerry seems to be that she is Galatea to his Pygmalion - he can feels he can mould her as he wishes (Certainly, his sister's wedding gift of a dog collar shows that she thinks so). Once Megan gains in confidence, the big question will arise: will he be able to adjust to her new confidence and independence, or will he feel emasculated and attempt to bring her down? Some men to succeed in making the mental switch. Some feel threatened, and look for a non-challanging young thing, cheating on their wives or leaving them.  It is also important to remember that Megan meets Jerry at a very fragile point in his life - he has crashed, he is still disabled and not 100% sure about the future. (for comparison, you might want to read "The Chinese Shawl" by Patricia Wentworth, which also has a downed pilot - but one who is tormented by a beautiful young and evil woman) Perhaps as Jerry gets better and stronger he will have less of a need of someone weaker to guide and be superior about, and be able to enjoy Megan as she develops. We already see that he appreciates Megan's original thinking, and enjoys her confidence after the dress and hair styling day, so there is a chance for them.
  • Tommy_A_JonesTommy_A_Jones Gloucestershire, United Kingdom
    I have been called Cynacle in this instance because SPOILER ALERT!!! Helen hitched up with Gwen's Father in Sleeping Murder and as soon as she had escaped her Brother she was free to go elsewhere.
  • Sorry Tommy, but you're completely wrong this time! SPOILER: According to the book, Helen actually l wanted to continue to live with her husband without her brother's interference - that's why she wanted them to move away. Her brother was the one who made her disappearance (i.e. murder) look as if she had run away with another man. True, she had loved the colonel first, but her husband knew that before she married him because she told him (see his diary), and after a brief re-meeting, she parted finally from the colonel the night before her murder since she was not prepared to take a married man away from his wife. So the inference that Megan would want to escape as well doesn't have a leg to stand on. That doesn't mean it couldn't happen, but it didn't happen in "Sleeping Murder".
  • Although it's been fun thinking of sequels, I am feeling more and more seriously that this idea really is a good way forward for bringing Agatha Christie's to the screen. It is just controversial to mess about with the original story lines, so better to stick to recreating the book. But, as we've had the Poirot' with David Suchet, many people know the plots. Not all,, of course, always somebody is new to the stories. It would be nice to dramatize the books from time to time, but sequels are a good alternative. I think the idea of heredity being behind the plot is a good one because it fixes on a theme which Agatha Christie seems to have believed in. I can always imagine her characters summing people up, and thinking that they were not quite right; a bit evil inside. It would so well fit in that neighbours in a village would discover that someone was descended from a probably murderer - like in Mrs McGinty's Dead. I think that Towards Zero also seems to take the idea seriously that people who were scheming as children will turn out manipulative as adults. It is amazing that the Israeli Defence Force has a special unit of autistes, Tali. We are very behind in Britain. Autistic people are often good with directions, so you would think that it would make sense to have a unit of autistic officials working for London Transport and helping members of the public to plan journeys. It hasn't happened though. That being said, I think the general public and people who work in shops, etc, are very understanding - especially in London.
  • That is great, Griselda. Here it depends - some people are understanding, some are not. One wonderful thing that happens here, is a facebook page called "equal opportunity" (in hebrew) where disabled people who want to work describe themselves, their talents and skills as well as their disabilities, people share their stories on their own pages, and eventually a lot of them get job offers and find jobs. Back to AC - yes, I think sequels are a good way to preserve her heritage, also the idea Tommy and I were throwing around before (he initiated it): to add a framework story which happens after the fact, where the first part of the framework ends with one of the original story's characters starting to tell the original story, then flashback to the original story, and at the end a wrap-up in the present, as part of the framework. I seem to remember seeing something like that in one of the movie versions of "Jane Eyre", when the movie starts with her collapsing on the moors and being taken in by the Rivers family (towards the end of the book), then telling a discreet version of her story, and then goes back to the beginning of the story as told in the book.
  • Sometimes - another idea - is you can do an adaptation which focuses on some of the other characters, and tells the story from their point of view. I always thought that the situation crying out for this, in literature, is the story of Frank and Jane in Jane Austen's Emma. The author writes with such a lot of beautiful detail, that you can tell after you've found out that they were a couple, what little occasions must have been really like for them. It isn't too difficult to imagine what some of the dialogue might have been between them while Austen was focusing the reader on something else. I think telling Murder at the Vicarage from the nephew - Raymond's point of view would be good. Lots of reading diary entries aloud. Telling it from the vicar's point of view, with monologues between action as he writes his diary, would be good too - or he could be telling a group of friends about something which happened fifteen years before. The Moving Finger from the doctor's point of view, or Mrs Dane Calthorpe would be interesting too. You'd get the sense of Jerry and Joanna being new to the village, lso maybe suspicious.
  • Great Idea! By the way, as for Jane Austen's books, It has been done in part - Joan Aiken wrote some Jane Austen Sequels or companion books - She actually wrote a book called "Jane Fairfax", presenting the story from Jane's point of view - just as you suggested.
  • I didn't know about the Joan Aiken novel! I suppose it is obvious in a way to think of doing it because they are such fully drawn characters themselves.  
  • Tommy_A_JonesTommy_A_Jones Gloucestershire, United Kingdom

    I got confused, If she hadn't have been murdered Helen would have stayed married to her husband but initially she did hitch up with someone just to escape her brother.

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