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In contribution to the #1967 book Challenge hosted by Rich Westwood’s at his blog Past Offences and to The Agatha Christie Reading Challenge Blog Carnival hosted by Kerrie Smith at her blog Mysteries in Paradise.
Harper, 2007. Paperback. 304 pages. First published in Great Britain by Collins in 1967. ISNB: 978-0-00-715167-7.
In essence, the story can be summarised as follows: Mike Rogers while visiting a beautiful landscape in the English countryside with a half-ruined house, falls in love with that place, threatened by some terrible legends. Mike’s interest on that spot, known as Gipsy’s Acre, increases after a chance encounter right there, with Fenella ‘Ellie’ Goodman, a rich American heiress. Following a short courtship, they marry and build a new house, as he could never have imagined, to make it their home. But they ignore the curse that seems to weigh over that site.
This is an unusual book by Agatha Christie that, to some extent, departs from the classical structure of her novels. In fact, the first victim doesn’t appears dead until the two thirds of the book have passed. Moreover it’s a stand-alone book in which the story is narrated in the first person by its main character. The title comes from William Blake’s Auguries of Innocence: ‘Some are born to sweet delight, Some are born to endless night.’
Christie finished Endless Night in six weeks, as opposed to the three-four months that most of her other novels took. Despite being in her seventies while writing it, she told an interviewer that being Michael, the twenty-something narrator, “wasn’t difficult. After all, you hear people like him talking all the time.” The story was adapted for film in 1972, starring Hayley Mills and Britt Ekland, however Christie felt the added sexual scenes were unnecessary. It was adapted for BBC Radio 4 in 2008 and a graphic novel version of the story was released later that year. Endless Night was also adapted for TV in 2013 with the added character of Miss Marple played by Julia McKenzie. The book is dedicated to Christie’s relative Nora Prichard, who first mentioned a field called ‘Gipsy’s Acre’ on the Welsh moors (information taken from Agatha Christie official homepage).
Probably Endless Night is one of Christie’s most ambitious books. Her command of the genre seems to have reached its peak and she feels herself strong enough as to subvert her own canon. It could have been quite original at its time and Christie was very much pleased with it to the point of including it among her favourite books. However today there seem to be conflicting opinions. I won’t consider Endless Night among my favourites, but the decision is up to you after having read it.
My rating: C (I liked it with a few reservations)
Endless Night has been reviewed at Crime Scraps Review (Norman), Mysteries in Paradise (Kerrie), In Search of the Classic Mystery Novel (Puzzle Doctor), Books Please (Margaret), among others.
Agatha Christie official homepage
Agatha Christie’s Marple – Endless Night – ITV review (by Martin Edwards)
Making a Killing: A Review of Agatha Christie: Murder in the Making, by John Curran (at The Passing Tramp)
Noche eterna de Agatha Christie
En esencia, la historia se puede resumir de la siguiente manera: Mike Rogers durante su visita a un hermoso paisaje en la campiña inglesa con una casa medio en ruinas, se enamora de ese lugar, amenazado por algunas leyendas terribles. El interés de Mike por ese paraje, conocido como “Campo del Gitano”, aumenta después de un encuentro casual ahí mismo con Fenella “Ellie” Goodman, una rica heredera estadounidense. Después de un corto noviazgo, se casan y construyen una casa nueva, como nunca él podría haber imaginado, para hacer de ella su hogar. Pero ellos ignoran la maldición que parece pesar sobre ese sitio.
Este es un libro inusual de Agatha Christie que, en cierto sentido, se aparta de la estructura clásica de sus novelas. De hecho, la primera víctima no aparece muerta hasta pasadas las dos terceras partes del libro. Por otra parte es un libro independiente en el que la historia está narrada en primera persona por su protagonista. El título está tomado de un poema de William Blake, Auguries of Innocence: “Algunos nacen para el dulce deleite, Algunos nacen para una noche eterna.”
Christie terminó Noche eterna en seis semanas, en oposición a los tres o cuatro meses que le llevaban la mayoría de sus novelas. A pesar de haber cumplido ya los setenta cuando lo escribió, le dijo a un entrevistador que ponerse en el lugar de Michael, el narrado veinteañero, “no me fue difícil. Después de todo, una escucha a gente como él hablando todo el tiempo”. La historia fue llevada al cine en 1972, protagonizada por Hayley Mills y Britt Ekland, sin embargo Christie pensaba que las escenas de contenido sexual que fueron añadidas eran innecesarias. Fue adaptada por la BBC Radio 4 en 2008 y una versión gráfica de la historia fue publicada a finales de ese año. Noche eterna también fue adaptada para la televisión en el 2013 con el personaje adicional de la señorita Marple interpretado por Julia McKenzie. El libro está dedicado a Nora Prichard, con quien Christie estaba emparentada, quien fue la primera en mencionale un lugar llamado “Campo del Gitano” en los páramos de Gales (información tomada de la página oficial de Agatha Christie).
Probablemente Noche eterna es uno de los libros más ambiciosos de Christie. Su dominio del género parece haber alcanzado su punto máximo y se siente a sí misma lo suficientemente fuerte como para subvertir su propio canon. Podría haber sido bastante original en su momento y Christie estaba muy satisfecha con él hasta el punto de incluirlo entre sus libros favoritos. Sin embargo hoy en día parece que hay opiniones encontradas. No voy a considerar la Noche eterna entre mis favoritos, pero la decisión es suya después de haberlo leído.
Mi calificación: C (Me gustó con algunas reservas)
26 thoughts on “Review: Endless Night by Agatha Christie”
It’s not my favourite of Christie’s work either, José Ignacio. Still, it is an interesting example as you say of her innocation.
I hope not having disclosed much of the plot, maybe for that reason I’ve not been more specific on my views
Well, here’s me rocking the boat. Endless Night is one of my favorite Christies. I’ve never been hugely fond of her work, but I can remember getting to the end of Endless Night the first time I read it and thinking that I’d have to revise my opinion of her: I hadn’t realized she could do that stuff. Unfortunately, I haven’t come across anything else like it that she wrote. (Please do advise if you know of others!)
I enjoyed the Hayley Mills/Hywel Bennett screen adaptation quite a lot (more so on repeated viewings than on the first watching, oddly enough) and was disappointed by the more recent “Miss Marple” tv adaptation — to my surprise, because I’m a big fan of Julia McKenzie in the role. It seemed to demonstrate how wise Christie had been not to make it a series book.
Fair enough John, nothing wrong if we disagree regarding this book. I found the first two thirds of the story a bit boring and repetitive (the poor guy that marries the rich heiress to fulfill his ambitions). Regarding the third part I felt cheated with the information that was concealed in the first two parts. Unfortunately I’ve not seen the film or the tv series.
Am afraid I’ve not read recently much of her books, but I would rather highlight And Then There Were None,
Ok Jose I’m not going to read your review or any comments as that’s my Past Offences choice too – I’m no Christie maven; in fact it’s probably been my teens since I read one. But it’ll be interesting to see how our thoughts compare, don’t you think? (And I know your review will be far better than mine, but, hey, that’s life!) x
Linda your very kind words do not do justice to your excellent reviews and I look forward with interest what you have to say about this book.
I enjoyed this review. I had read negative reviews of this book but with your comments and those of others, I will look forward to reading it someday and see what I think. It will be awhile, although since it is a non-series book I could jump ahead. The series I am reading in order.
Oh! Thank you Tracy.
Having read your review I’m almost certain I haven’t read this one but I’d be interested to, despite your reservations, just to see how Christie handles a different structure.
I’ll be very interested in your opinion, Cleo. Thanks.
As you say, this is a book that divides opinions. I think it’s very good, certainly one of the best of her later novels. I enjoyed your review and the reminder of it.
I appreciate your comment Moira, thanks.
I have always thought of this as being among the best of the later Christie novels, though some of the people I have recommended it to have been disappointed. Looks like you were somewhere in between 🙂
I imagine it’s more a matter of taste, than of the quality of the novel. 🙂
I really enjoyed this one Jose – although that may partly be due to the novelty for me of reading a Christie, as it’s been so long. I totally missed the twist, too, which I love getting caught out on! It’s definitely made me want to read more Christie novels; I feel I’ve unfairly neglected them since being a teenager.
I’m glad to hear it has made you want to read more Christie novels, Linda.
There’s plenty to choose from, anyway! I have a few I “reclaimed” from my parents’ at Christmas – some haven’t been read and the price on the back is 95p! Plus I discovered a Margaret Millar with such a tacky cover I’d have ignored it, except for her name being on the cover!