Agatha Christie 12 (69% – 78%)

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In 1862 Archie Christie died, and it is during the funeral that Rosalind first meets her half-brother.

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Nimrud in Iraq is where Agatha and Max spent every spring from 1949 to 1959. Nimrud is where Max’s main work was based. In 1947, he also became director of the British School of Archaeology in Iraq (1947–1961) and directed the resumption of its work at Nimrud (previously excavated by A. H. Layard), which he published in Nimrud and its Remains.

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Max directed the excavation until the 1958 revolution in Iraq when Hashemite King Faisal II was assassinated. The 14 July Revolution, also known as the 1958 Iraqi coup d’état, took place on 14 July 1958 in Iraq, and resulted in the overthrow of the Hashemite monarchy which had been established by King Faisal I in 1921 under the auspices of the British. King Faisal II, Prince ‘Abd al-Ilah, and Prime Minister Nuri al-Said were killed during the uprising.

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Max’s work in Nimrud started with the North-west palace founded by Ashurnasirpal II excavated by Layard.

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Agatha Christie also worked in Nimrud, and she cleaned ivory carvings with her own face cream.  A room was built on the excavation site – known as Agatha’s House – so that Christie could continue to write, penning They Came To Baghdad and the Hercule Poirot detective story Hickory Dickory Dock, while she was there. She also photographed the objects that her husband’s team found during the dig.

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In 1949 Rosalind married for the second time. Her new husband was Anthony Hicks, and the book mentions that this new marriage was one similar to her mother’s second one… of companionship and convenience. They lived in Pwllywrach, which was the house that Rosalind’s first husband left her. Pwll-y-Wrach or Pwllywrach is a historic manor house to the east of Colwinston, Vale of Glamorgan, south Wales. The novelist Agatha Christie was a frequent visitor to the village and stayed at the house with her daughter Rosalind, son-in-law Hubert, and her only grandchild Matthew; her descendants, the Prichard family, still live at the former manor.

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Agatha Christie was still struggling with her finances because of what the governments in America and UK claimed she owed them in tax. So in 1955 she formed the Christie Settlement Trust and Agatha Christie Limited. Christie had set up a private company, Agatha Christie Limited, to hold the rights to her works, and around 1959 she had transferred her 278-acre home, Greenway Estate, to her daughter Rosalind.

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MGM bought the rights to adapt several of her novels into films. The result was not good and Agatha Christie was very unhappy about the changes MGM made with her characters and plots. One of the first films was Murder She Said, which is an adaptation of The 4.50 from Paddington, and Miss Marple was played by Margaret Rutherford. In Christie’s original story, elderly Elspeth McGillicuddy witnessed the murder, not her friend Miss Marple, who was introduced later. Also, in the original story, a young acquaintance of Marple is sent to pose as a house-keeper at the suspect location, not Marple herself. As with most of her portrayals of Miss Marple, Rutherford’s interpretation was quite different from Christie’s languid, passive depiction.

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The next film was Murder at the Gallop based on the novel “After the Funeral”.  Murder at the Gallop (1963) is the second of four Miss Marple films made by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. It was based on the novel After the Funeral by Agatha Christie, and starred Margaret Rutherford as Miss Jane Marple, Charles “Bud” Tingwell as Inspector Craddock and Stringer Davis (Rutherford’s real-life husband) as Jane Marple’s friend Mr. Stringer.The film changes both the action and the characters. The original novel featured Hercule Poirot rather than Miss Marple, and Christie’s trademark suspense was replaced by light comedy.

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The next film was Murder Most Foul. Murder Most Foul is the third of four Miss Marple films made by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Loosely based on the novel Mrs McGinty’s Dead by Agatha Christie, it stars Margaret Rutherford as Miss Jane Marple, Bud Tingwell as Inspector Craddock, and Stringer Davis (Rutherford’s real-life husband) as Mr. Stringer. The story is ostensibly based on the original Christie story, but notably changes the action and characters. Hercule Poirot is replaced by Miss Marple and most other characters are not in the original story.

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Murder Ahoy! is the last of four Miss Marple films made by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer that starred Margaret Rutherford. As in the previous three, the actress plays Agatha Christie’s amateur sleuth Miss Jane Marple, with Charles ‘Bud’ Tingwell as (Chief) Inspector Craddock and Stringer Davis (Rutherford’s real-life husband) playing Mr Stringer. This film used an original screenplay that was not based on any of Christie’s stories.

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Agatha Christie hated the liberties that MGM took with her books. She didn’t like the way Poirot was portrayed by Tony Randall in the Alphabet murders. The Alphabet Murders is a British detective film based on the novel The A.B.C. Murders by Agatha Christie, starring Tony Randall as Hercule Poirot.

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Agatha Christie’s relationship with her daughter continued to be tense and difficult as years went by. Yet, her relationship with her grandchild, Matthew was really good.

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I have to say that I am sad to read in the book that Max might have been unfaithful to Agatha for years with the woman who directed the digs in Nimrud. The author explains that there is no real evidence but there are several people who claim that Max had a long-lasting affair with this woman, Barbara Parker, who she married a year after Agatha’s death.

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Apparently, he also had a relationship with the Baroness Camoys before he remarried. He even proposed to her, but his friends warned him off, so he withdrew his proposal, and then he married Barbara.

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