November 2013 Book of the Month: Endless Night

TuppenceTuppence City of London, United Kingdom
This month we're reading Endless Night - a chilling romance, in which a gypsy curse threatens a young couple when they build their home on cursed land.

Post your discussion questions here.


  • Tommy_A_JonesTommy_A_Jones Gloucestershire, United Kingdom

    The Only thing in this books favour is that it isn't Passenger To Frankfurt Characters dull and the Plot uninteresting, I am glad ITV are putting Miss Marple in this one, It can only improve it like Hastings being in the Adaptation of  Murder In Mesopotamia improved that.

  • glalonzo0408glalonzo0408 Pennsylvania, United States
    While I don't find it as captivating as say Murder on the Orient Express, I don't find it dull and uninteresting.  I must agree it is not AC worthy but IMHO if you forget who wrote it, it isn't so bad.
  • edited November 2013
    I think that it's an under-rated book. The first time I read it, I did find it hard to get into. I'd only just started reading Christie, so I was hoping for something more like a murder mystery in a country house. I did give up reading it. I did have suspicion about the killer very early on in the book, despite the red herrings. I revisited the book later on and I could see there were parts that were brilliant and that I'd overlooked. 

    I absolutely love the title from William Blake. The book is astonishing in the fact it was written from the view point of a worldly young man. Yet it  was written by an elderly woman who had her own sense of justice, fairness and morality, which the main character doesn't possess. I give her full credit for this.

    I have wondered how Endless Night is so unlike her other books?  The tone is much more sensual but with disturbed thoughts of murder mixed in. Also in her later works, the plot does tend to go off and wander. Take Postern Of Fate, Passenger To Frankfurt and Elephants Can Remember. There are many long monologues in them, written about the past. Yet Endless Night is curiously modern and not meandering. The plot is fast paced in realtion to most of her other books. 

    It does make me wonder if Agatha Christie had someone who advised her on the book? Yet the murder confession feels very much like her work. She pulled it off in Then There Were None, Ackroyd and Edgware.  It's a disturbing end but in a good way.

    Although there is a Miss Marple story that is the same plot as Endless night, it isn't actually the same in style. 

    I do know people on the old forum did enjoy this book so I'm hoping for some positive comments.  I think that for people who like Then There Were none, this is a good and chilling book. The part where he thinks he's seen Ellie's ghost was so intense.

  • Any time an artist tries something new, it is valuable.  Endless Night does not follow the typical Christie plot (set-up, murder, investigation, solution) or the typical pacing.  It's not really a detective story.  There aren't really clues, more like a late reveal of what certain events really meant, so it's not set up for a reader to solve the way her classic whodunits are with clues that add up to a solution.  The ending is a surprise, well handled by Christie who at that point was quite old yet writing convincingly from the point-of-view of a young man.  I would have preferred if Christie clued it better, the way in And Then There Were None it turns out there were clues that could have been detected and unravelled to lead to a solution, but it's an unusual and effective novel.
  • Endless Night reminds me of the 1960s movie 'Alfie', with the anti-hero who thinks he is invincible, but is actually pathetic and out of synch with society in general. I enjoy re-reading it every few years and I think that it's a pretty good straightforward thriller (not Agatha's forte in general, in my opinion).
  • LucilleLucille Ontario, Canada
    I have not yet read the book as I am still waiting for it.  I can't wait to get into it! I have heard that it's different from what Agatha Christie usually does. I am very curious to see for myself!
  • glalonzo0408glalonzo0408 Pennsylvania, United States
    I am half way thru the book and have to say I am enjoying it....many people on this site do not like this book...i find it different but enjoyable.
  • LucilleLucille Ontario, Canada
    SPOILERS!!! I did like the book! I disliked Mike from the beginning. He was what I call a "me, my, myself" sort of person. I never trusted him and did not like how he treated his mother. Greta I felt to be too good to be true. Her efficiency made me suspicious and she was a traitor to the people who employed her to the detriment of her charge. Of course, she had an agenda! Ellie was a naive girl and putty in Greta's hands. She hated the life that was forced on her by her guardians and this made her the perfect candidate for Mike and Greta's purpose. Ellie was a good soul, misguided, and too inexperienced in the ways of men and the evil world we live in to even be suspicious of Mike and Greta. She had simply been too sheltered to be wary of these two demons.

    I hate to say this but there are times when certain things don't make sense to me.  For instance, when Mike tries to borrow money from his mother to buy a suit to get married in.  At the time of reading this, I was not aware of the relationship between him and Greta but at the end of the book when I was reflecting on things, I thought it strange that he had not asked Greta since she had a good job. Perhaps there's a sort of red herring here. Those who have read the book will know where I'm coming from.

    Santonix was very protective of Ellie.  In Chapter 13 when Mike carries her over the threshold and he stumbles, Santonix sees it as a bad omen. He tells Mike to be good to her and to take good care of her. He says "Don't let harm come to her. She can't take care of herself.  She thinks she can." Ellie then asks Santonix "Why should anything happen to me?" Santonix responds "Because it's a bad world and there are bad people in it and there are some bad people around you, my girl. I know, I've seen one or two of them. Seen them down here. They come nosing around, sniffing around like the rats they are." Santonix knew about the evilness of Mike and Greta but could do nothing except to give a warning which was too subtle for Ellie to comprehend.

    Mike's mother sees through Greta as soon as she meets her. At the end of the book, we discover what she had always felt to be the truth about her son and we know why she always looked at him the way she did. Poor woman!

    It's very sad when Ellie dies. Agatha's work here is Agatha in action as we know her and love her.  I was suspicious but really did believe the horse had been spooked by the gipsy. I despised Mike's attitude at the inquest and the burial.  He was just so cold.  Never shed a tear. He was so detached.

    When the gipsy was found dead, I knew without doubt that Mike had been paying her and had killed her to keep her from blackmailing him.

    When Santonix dies saying to Mike, "You damned fool...Why didn't you go the other way?" At the time we did not know about Mike and Greta.  It's only at the end of the book that we realize Santonix suspected his entanglement with Greta and he was asking him why had had not chosen to be with Ellie who to him was the better choice and a chance for him to renew himself. 

    When Mike is coming home  and sings "Home is the sailor, home from the sea. And the hunter home from the hill. . . " I despised him more than ever. 

    In Chapter 23, when he's on the boat coming home, he finds himself wishing for Santonix to be with him. He says, "I wish he could know how everything was all coming true. Everything I'd planned --everything I'd thought -- everything I'd wanted." It's always the pronoun "I" with him to the detriment of everyone else.  How I despised him!

    It's chilling when he starts to confess to killing a boyhood friend and later on a buddy. In the end he realizes when he sees Ellie that she can't see him because he's not the man she married. He's "Endless Night" as are all the psychopaths in the world. They love the darkness and dwell in it. Ellie could not see "Endless Night" when she was looking for Mike because she had not married "Endless Night". She had married what she had thought to be a good man.

    I did not shed any tears when he killed Greta.  In real life, when two psychopaths get together, horrible things happen to good people.  And this happens often. The prisons are filled with such people.

    I enjoyed reading this book. It was different from what Agatha usually does. I look forward to the next book. Sorry I was so late in commenting. 

    It brought to mind two cases in Canada in years past when two psychopaths got together.  Both were couples and they killed young girls in cold blood with premeditation and no emphathy or regret whatsoever. Nothing in real life surprises me anymore. Just look at all that goes on in slaughterhouses around the world where animals are treated with such cruelty by the psychopathst who work in those places.  We live in a cruel world and nothing in fiction can ever surprise me! One only has to watch The Earthlings to see cruelty and heartlessness!

  • The adaptation is being shown here in Uk over Christmas. I will put off watching til much later as it's rather low on festive spirit. I really didn't want it to be filmed as a Miss Marple story. I know it's similar to The Case Of The Caretaker. But the Miss Marple version is only short and is nowhere near as intense.

  • youngmrquinyoungmrquin Buenos Aires, Argentina
    edited February 2014
    This was the very first book by AC I read in English.
    This is one of her books that has to offer much more in terms of style, writing and atmosphere than the plot itself.
    It's really eerie and gothic, and the fact that we see the world trough the eyes of the main character helps to shape the setting. 


    My biggest problem with it is that nothing happens until the very end when, sadly, the book almost finishes. The vast majority of the narrative is the description of Mike and his relationship with Ellie, how they met and the social differences that difficult their process. There is and eerie feeling that something is going to happen at any minute, but this minute takes forever to happen. It could have been a much better story if the whole threat of the gipsy have been fleshed out more, playing with the supernatural like in Pale Horse or Mr. Quin stories.
  • Tommy_A_JonesTommy_A_Jones Gloucestershire, United Kingdom
    If this had been the first Agatha Christie book I read I might have not read anymore I found it so Dull, I have only read it once and for me once was definitely enough.
  • edited February 2014
    I watched the adaptation of Miss Marple in Endless night. When it began it was so stark and intense, so i thought it would turn out well. It didn't.  I felt that Miss Marple stuck out too much, she just didn't belong in the story. Also some of the acting was so wooden, in particular Joanna Vanderham, with her terrible American accent! I'm not 100% certain that Tom Hughes was right for the part of Mike. I think Cillian Murphy would have been better.

    I couldn't watch the adaptation all the way through, it was too irritating and painful to watch. I skipped to the end with the confession.. Even that felt weak. Plus the added a rather Du Maurier's Rebecca like finish to the house.

    has anyone seen the film adaptation? I'm wondering if it was any better? 

  • Tommy_A_JonesTommy_A_Jones Gloucestershire, United Kingdom
    Sometimes it doesn't matter how good an Adaptation is if the Book it is based on is poor, and that is the problem with the book, I suppose the Book and Marple Adaptation are good for Insomnia.
  • edited February 2014
    The sight of Miss Marple nearly being strangled would give many fans nightmares, rather than send them to sleep.
  • Tommy_A_JonesTommy_A_Jones Gloucestershire, United Kingdom
    Was that really necessary Miss Quin, I was only expressing an Opinion like we are all entitled to do
  • MissQuin said:has anyone seen the film adaptation? I'm wondering if it was any better? 

    I saw the film adaptation three years ago. Although I have not seen the Miss Marple version yet, the Miss Marple version would have to be extremely terrible to come anywhere near being quite as bad as the film adaptation of Endless Night. While the novel Endless Night easily earns a spot in my list of ten favorite Agatha Christie novels, the film adaptation of Endless Night easily earns a spot in my list of the ten worst film/television adaptations of Agatha Christie's work that I have seen.

    Here are the positive and negative aspects of the film:

    • The plot was faithful to the novel
    • Shirley Jones does a wonderful job singing William Blake's "Endless Night" (it is the movie's one and only highlight)


    • Completely misguided direction (the director highlights all the wrong things and leaves out or rushes through the novel's most interesting scenes)
    • Everybody is miscast
    • Absurdly melodramatic music
    • It is only 95min., but the pacing is so slow that it seems at least twice as long
    • Absence of any suspense or humor
    • Mike's Dream House is not impressive enough
    • Agatha Christie herself disliked the film (for good reason)
    • Nudity (Christie objected to it too)
    • Terrible ending (the only person who should be screaming at the end of this film is the viewer at what a mess has been made out of this classic Christie novel)
  • Thank you P Lombard for giving me a detailed analysis of the film. I have actually been put off watching it!  I would quite simply, go and re-read the book.

    I know that the 70's version of Ten little Indians has this awful score, I mean it's very 70's sounding and intrusive and spoilt it. 

    if Agatha Christie condemned the film- that's it! It's not good enough. They could have asked her first. But film companies always overrode her in the most disrespectful way. I'm thinking of Murder Ahoy! here! 

    What are your 10 least favourite AC film adapts? obviously you should post it on a different thread. but I'd love to read them. 
  • ZeddieZeddie Ballymoney, United Kingdom
    I actually saw the film adaptation of Endless Night before I had read the book and it was so terrible I left it about 8 or 9 years before I could bring myself to read it.
    I am glad I did though as the book is alot better than the film although not AC's best work.

  • youngmrquinyoungmrquin Buenos Aires, Argentina
    edited February 2014
    I think that Endless Night is what you have said elsewhere @MissQuin, that you hate when people say and or think that the only thing Agatha could write was cozy mysteries.
    Indeed, she could write much more than that. Some good examples are the thrillers, the Westmacott's stories and the Mr. Quin ones.
    However, while this book shows her flexibility in terms of genre and style, I still keep my complaint from above. Nothing happens in the vast majority of the book, being the warnings of the gipsy a posible exception. Apart from this, and like Tommy commented about Postern of Fate, it's hard to know if people would read it till the end if it wasn't written by AC. I am not putting it together Postern, just saying that, while very well written, it's success depends in a great part due to the fame of its author.
  • Tommy_A_JonesTommy_A_Jones Gloucestershire, United Kingdom
    I don't think Agatha Christie could just write 'Cosy Mysteries', but I do think hat is what she was best at, but not all of the Mysteries were Cosy, in fact some were far from Cosy, like Crooked House and Ordeal By Innocence, the one thing Endless Night, Passenger To Frankfurt and Death Comes As The End have in Common is that like you mrquin and I have said about Endless Night, few people would bother with them if they were not from the pen of Agatha Christie
  • I was interested in reading your comment YoungMrQuin, but I disagree on one point. On a personal note, Endless night was one of the first Agatha Christie books I read. I read Roger Ackroyd and Body In The Library. I admit, I thought EN would run along similar lines. I was initially  disappointed that it didn't and wasn't the locked room Cludeo murder type. 

    I re-visited Endless Night many years later.  I had by that time read most of her works and was a dedicated fan. But I knew there were some books by her I just didn't like. But I did want to take another look at the story. I'm glad that I did because I felt I'd so overlooked it.

    Apart from Agatha Christie, I rarely read crime fiction. I prefer reading books that aren't any particular genre, but are more based on the personalities of the characters. Like EM Forster, Daphne Du Maurier, Henry James. So I think that Endless Night disappoints crime fans, but appeals to some people who like other genres. That's why I wondered if Endless Night would be accepted better if she'd written as a Westmacott. 

    As for above comment- I ask other fans did  Agatha Christie only excel in writing "cosy crime fiction"? I absolutely 100% disagree with this wholeheartedly. I consider Then There Were None to be by far her best book. Nothing cosy, but daring, tense and quite faultless. 

    Other non cosy works -Witness For The Prosecution- brilliant. Also The Pale Horse and Murder Is Easy and may of her underrated non series short stories Also her very favourite character was Mr Quin and there's nothing cosy about those stories.  
  • youngmrquinyoungmrquin Buenos Aires, Argentina
    I absolutely agree about her abilities as a writer. Some of her best works, and also prefered by me, are non "cozy-mysteries/who-dunnit". 
    As I said in TOP 5, The Pale Horse is one of my favourites (if not precisely number one). It ensembles mystery, thriller action and the supernatural, all together in a perfectly tight plot. The narrative is also superb, and it succeds in portraying both the personality of some characters and the historical context.
    The obvious example, where I believe we agree not only because we have mentioned it, but also for our nicknames, are the Quin stories. I really loved The Harlequin Tea Set, where the visual imagery stunned me deeply, reminding me that we were still in an AC story in which murders and difficult family relationships take place. Most of the stories of The Mysterious Mr. Quin are also great.
    A few of the pure thrillers are also good examples. They take a lot of criticism but are, in a few cases, very well written and much more original by its time than many of the contemporary ones.
  • edited February 2014
    I agree with the points you make @Youngmrquin  I enjoyed books like The Body In The Library just as much as Murder Is Easy. Yet they are very different in style and tone. I think the standard of writing is equal in both. But I think that her non series books are overlooked in particular Mr Quin.  

    Even some of the Poirot stories like The Hollow and Five little Pigs, tend to be rated quite poorly. Perhaps because are definitely more serious and introspective than early Poirot stories. But I like the fact there's variety in her writing. 

    One thing that really annoys me is that there are books by Agatha Christie that get called "cosy" in a dismissive way. Yes they don't contain gratuitous violence and accounts of autopsies. Yet underneath the whole pretty English village image, there are always dark undercurrents. People who are jealous, deceitful who steal, murder, lie and betray each other. Yet oddly enough, it's only when you look closely. On the surface you can just overlook that and read about spinsters enjoying tea and cake with the Vicar. Which I love by that way, but I would like people to see beyond the "cosiness" phrase  that is repeatedly attached to Agatha Christie as though she wrote nothing else. 

    I can't help but think that  there are some very unfaithful film & Tv adaptations of Miss Marple stories. Perhaps these have damaged people's perceptions of Marple books? The Margaret Rutherford films were extremely light and comical.  But at the other end of the adapt spectrum, you have Miss Marple appearing in Endless Night, which was too modern and intense for her character! It's almost as though the balance is never quite right.

  • Tommy_A_JonesTommy_A_Jones Gloucestershire, United Kingdom
    I suppose it is never easy for a Director to get the feel that the writer wanted, it is like painting a Landscape or Porttrait you are never going to get the subject 100% right although with most of the ITV Marples and a couple of Poirot's it felt like the Writer and Director weren't really trying to get close.
  • Agatha Christie was alive when the Rutherford films were made. She told MGM she disagreed with the changes made. But they went ahead and made more films, becoming looser with the book plots each time until they wrote their own from scratch. 

    Seems the same with the Endless Night film that Zeddie and P_Lombard mentioned. She didn't like it, but it went ahead. Which is excusable.

  • youngmrquinyoungmrquin Buenos Aires, Argentina
    edited February 2014
    About the (new) Marple adaptations.
    In my country, we are just now enjoying the Marple films only with Julia Mckenzie on open tv. The previous ones with McEwan weren't shown and much less the Hickson ones. We did have seen, through the years, the Poirot ones (both Ustinov and Suchet).
    I started looking for all types of Marple films two years ago, thanks to the mention of them in this website. I started focusing in my favourite ones, such as A Murder is Announced, The Moving Finger and Sleeping Murder.
    Besides the already (and very much) discussed changes in plot, let me share my impressions about them. If I have to choose one version, in general terms I prefer the Hickson ones, but just because I feel I am seeing an AC story (the plot is keep and there isn't unnecesary sexually explicit content). However, and you may hate me, I find them very slow paced (boring, sometimes). In contrast, while the ITV ones have really stupid changes (lots of sex that simply do nothing to improve the story), the pacing of them feels faster and the general style of filming feels more contemporary to me (keep in mind I am 25). I really enjoyed the few stories that were faithful to the originals.
  • edited February 2014
    Youngmrquin- No, no-one will hate you! There are very mixed feelings by fans towards all of the Marple adaptations.

    The McEwan episodes set out to be a more contemporary contrast to the previously much loved Joan Hickson's. So the McEwan episodes- in a nutshell!

    1. The Body In The Library was good vibrant and fun - apart from changing the murderers. 
    2. Murder In The Vicarage was ok. 
    3. 4.50 from Paddington I thought was dire because it had such wooden acting. 
    4. A Murder Is Announced- I really liked this although it sparked some controversy. 
    The next series began going much further away from the book and became frivolous:
    1. Sleeping Murder- changes were made and I hated it!
    2. The Moving Finger- best of that series
    3. By The Pricking Of My Thumbs- terrible. Miss Marple meets Tommy and Tuppence  who were made out to be a chauvinist and an alcoholic.  
    4. The Sittaford mystery- I find it hard not to use very strong words when describing this episode!!  It was a re-write, it was absurd it was horrible.
    Next series- rather mixed:
    1. Ordeal By Innocence - this had some of the best British actors and actresses. Yet it all went down hill when Miss Marple appeared giggling and picking locks. The rest was terrible and also there's a bloody and for Marple graphic murder not in the book which I hated. 
    2. Towards Zero- again, pars good, parts terrible.
    3. Nemesis- I hated this version. 3 characters were changed to into Nuns
    4. At Bertram's Hotel- one of the lightest episodes including Nazis, thieves and cherubs! Very odd.
    McEWan then left. Julia McKenzie took over and I like her much better as Miss Marple. I think she gives an excellent, understated performance in every episode I've seen. The only problems if some of the other cast's acting. Plus the script writing is often poor.

    1. Pocket Full Of Rye- I missed the start of this and only caught in 10 mins in. There was some mild indignation from some fans over the content. The episode is actually one of the better ones. It remains faithful to the story.
    2. Murder Is Easy- a complete re-write. There's no supernatural element, no witchcraft. Even Benedict Cumberbach couldn't save it! It was painful to watch.
    3. They Do It With Mirrors- pretty dull and annoying. 
    4. Why Didn't They Ask Evans- I've not seen this one.

    next series:
    1. The Pale horse- I love the book and was resentful of them adding Miss Marple. but against my will I found I quite liked most of episode.  
    2. The Secret Of Chimneys- I didn't watch it all. So bad It was like having teeth pulled out, it hurt!
    3. The Blue Geranium- this is good, too long though.  
    4. The mirror Crack'd- poor
    The next series- only 3 episodes made, possibly because of the viewers ratings plummeted and it was risky to film too many.  

    1. A Caribbean Mystery- I think this is one of the best ever Marple episodes. Very faithful to the  book.
    2. Greenshaw's Folly- not seen
    3. Endless Night- already given my views. It wouldn't have ever have worked with Miss Marple. Even without her, some of the acting was too bad for it to have been good. 
    My all time favourite adapt is the film The Mirror Crak'd with Elizabeth Taylor. 

  • Tommy_A_JonesTommy_A_Jones Gloucestershire, United Kingdom

    Why was there Contreversy with ITVs  Murder Is Announced? I personally liked it apart from Bunch wasn't in it, Oh I know the Relationship between Hinchcliffe and Miss Murgatroyed was more blatant but still not enough to scare the Horses,

    I think that one, Murder At The Vicarage and Caribean Mystery are the best ones and also perhaps 450 From Paddington although I would have cast Griff Rhys-Jones as Alfred

    I didn't like Pale Horse or Why Didn't They Ask Evans either, I am angry ITV put Miss Marple in the Latter and left Ariadne out of the Former. 

    I hated Nemesis and Sleeping Murder, Thought They Do It With Mirrors was better than the book and The Helen Hayes Film.


    I was glad to see a Character never portrayed before in The Mirror Crack'd

    I was really pleased they Changed the Murderer of The Secret of Chimneys. The Blue Gerranium and Greenshaw's Folly were I though o.k. (The Former better than the latter), The Moving Finger and Pocketfull of Rye were Adequate,

    Murder Is Easy was rushed and not Good but not as bad as Nemesis and Sleeping Murder

    I also liked The Film The Mirror Crack'd but not as good as The Hickson's, ITV should put Miss Marple in the little film at the beginning of The Mirror Crack'd That would be good

  • This is by far my most favorite Agatha Christie ever. I started it one evening and immediately was captivated by it. Four hours later I was finished! I think the reason why I love this one so much is that it is so vastly different from her other works- it has a very modern feel to it, and is one of her only romance-based books. I would also classify it as more of a psychological thriller. 


    One thing about this book that made it my favorite was the fact that it is told from the point of view of the killer. I just don't know how she does it, especially without giving anything away!! I think that aspect of the novel is the most mystifying. It also shows her talent as a mystery writer, having the narrator/protagonist tell the story almost as a victim, meanwhile it was him all along.
  • Tommy_A_JonesTommy_A_Jones Gloucestershire, United Kingdom
    The Book Bored me ridged, I didn't care about The Characters any of them and you have to like at least one don't you and you have to like the Plot which I didn't, The Book needed badly a recurring Characterbor at least a Character with a Pulsed and Charisma
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