Thursday, May 24, 2007

Two Martellian suggestions

As per Yann Martel's latest suggestions to our Prime Minister, I've read Orwell's Animal Farm and Agatha Christie's The Murder of Roger Ackroyd. It is rather difficult for me to realize I've never actually read either of them before. I feel as if I have; I feel as though I know them quite thoroughly. But, it is not so. Now that I've finally read these two classics, here are my impressions of them.

Animal Farm

I'm not sure how I escaped reading this in my youth. It might have made more of an impression then, when political history was something new to me. While very well written, I found it a bit dated and somewhat disingenuous. Still, Orwell's brilliance shines through with his immortal line: "All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others." This story details the inescapable corruption that follows any idealistic enterprise. The farmyard provides suitable examples of the many stratas of society, and Napoleon the boar is simply frightening as dictator. I had Stalin's face firmly superimposed by halfway through. The entrenched cynicism, that liberators necessarily become oppressors, is disheartening. Thus I can only say that while I admire this book for its cleverness and impeccable style, I did not enjoy it in a marvellous-book-to-reread way.

The Murder of Roger Ackroyd

I can't quite believe I have for so long avoided discovering who murdered Roger Ackroyd. I'm not going to give it away here in case there are some other unknowing readers out there. Suffice it to say I read this over a long weekend, sitting in the sun with a cup of tea. Is there any better way to read Agatha Christie? It was a wonderfully plotted novel; I did not puzzle out who the murderer was until Poirot told me. I nearly always have mysteries sorted by the 3/4 mark; not this time! The guiding principle of this story is, as Poirot states (which is perhaps why Martel chose this book for a politician's reading), that until in possession of proof we only have someone's word for it that they've done what they said they've done. Everyone has a secret, but they are all eventually found out.
In Martel's letter recommending this book he has included photos of the library of some of our previous prime ministers, located at Laurier House. Quite fascinating.

*Breaking News -- A Response*

May 8, 2007

Dear Mr. Martel:

On behalf of the Prime Minister, I would like to thank you for your recent letter and the copy of Tolstoy's The Death of Ivan Ilych. We appreciated reading your comments and suggestions regarding the novel.
Once again, thank you for taking the time to write.

Susan I. Ross
Assistant to the Prime Minister


  1. I love, love Agatha Christie and loved the Murder of Roger Ackroyd. I'm like you-usually I know who's the murderer, but I didn't know in this case. Yesterday, I finished another Poirot where I didn't guess the murderer-Death on the Nile. It's a fun read...with a cup of tea of course! :)

  2. The Murder of Roger Ackroyd is one of my favorite mysteries and I'm so glad you enjoyed it. I was fortunate enough not to know what the big to do about the book was until after I read it--I guess the technique Christie used was quite unique back then. And so that was a nice surprise.

  3. Eva - I'll have to try "Death on the Nile" next and see if I can outwit Poirot this time!

    Literary Feline - It was a surprise for me too; and a really enjoyable one.

  4. Few write mysteries as well as Agatha Christie did, but I firmly believe she cheated. It always seemed to me that there was a key piece of evidence left out to keep her readers from solving the case.

    Still, I've read most of her works and enjoyed them all.



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