Philomel Cottage by Agatha Christie (1934 Published in Listerdale Mystery)
Tuesday’s Tale of Terror June 20, 2017
This short story by Agatha Christie, the murder mystery master, is one that hasn’t seen much popular light. Raymond Chandler was said to criticize Christie’s literary skills but that didn’t tarnish her fame or book sales. She remains the queen of crime. Philomel Cottage is probably one you’ve not read.
The name of this cottage carries a very specific subtext. The title Philomel—also known as Philomela—refers to a Greek goddess who was turned into a bird. In Christie’s story, Philomel represents the nightingale, symbolic of the feminine rejecting the dark silence and her finding voice in that darkness to sing.
This is a romantic twisty tale, set in a cheerful English village of gardens and gossip. The drama is about a newly married couple, Alix and her demanding husband Gerald—how lovely their new home is and how happy the setting. Well, maybe not for long. Murder and the dark psychological powers of dreaming prevail.
The ending is unpredictable and not at all in the neatly tied-up style we are used to in Christie crime mysteries. It’s unusual for Christie to flavor her stories with anything supernatural, but one might interpret this story to be haunting in a Hitchcockian way. Christie’s compelling narrative suspense, as always, does not disappoint.
Read the short story here at Celine.Klinghammer.free.fr.
This story was adapted for film in 1937 with Ann Harding and Basil Rathbone Love With A Stranger. If you are an old film buff like me, this one is thoroughly enjoyable. Vintage black and white and so fashionable. Women wearing curvy slinky dresses, budding rounded busts with sexy shoulders and pearls. Men with mustaches and tailored in tweed suits with wide lapels and cuffed wide trousers. Absolutely nostalgic!
Watch it here on YouTube.com.
Audio: Old Time Radio Suspense of Philomel Cottage with Orson Wells. This is a real treat!
If you are an Agatha Christie fan, you’ll love the Agatha Christie Blog.
Click here for “How to Make A Miss Marple’s Afternoon Tea.”
Christie’s first novel , The Mysterious Affair at Styles, was written in 1916, published in 1920. Murder on the Orient Express (1934); Death on the Nile (1937) and Appointment with Death (1938). And many more: 78 mystery novels, 19 plays, and over 100 short stories. Her final novel, Sleeping Murder: Miss Marple’s Last Case, was published posthumously in October 1976. She is considered the best-selling novelist of all time (2 billion copies sold and by some estimates nearly 4 billion, her works ranking 3rd behind Shakespeare and the Bible). What a gal!
Check out The Guardian‘s “No One Should Condescend to Agatha Christie—She’s a Genius.”
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