Thursday, January 7, 2021

The Hollow: Agatha Christie

As I read more of the Poirot books, I find more to add to my favorite Christie novels. This one may be in my top ten, if I ever try to list them.

Sir Henry Angkatell and his wife Lucy have invited several people to their home, The Hollow, for the weekend. Dr. John Christow and his wife Gerda. Henrietta Savernake, the sculptress. David Angkatell, a young member of the family. Midge Hardcastle, who works in a dress shop in London, and is getting a brief vacation.

Then Edward Angkatell invites himself, and Lucy, the hostess, is concerned that the balance of the group will be ruined by his presence. Except for John and Gerda , these people are all related, distant cousins in some cases.

There are so many interesting characters in this story. They are mostly likable, but while reading the book I was never sure of them. Are they manipulative? Are they evil? How much of themselves are they revealing to others? The point of view changes often, revealing more of John, Gerda, Henrietta and Midge. And the servants play an important role, which I like in a country house mystery.

Some mystery readers prefer the murder to take place early in the story. I usually prefer some build up of the plot, some introduction to the characters and the relationships. In this book, the murder occurs at page 83 (out of 230 pages) before the murder takes place. Poirot shows up for the first time shortly after that. 

Even after the murder, there is not a lot of Poirot or his detection in this book. I thought the plot worked well and I enjoyed it, nevertheless. Early on, I guessed who the murderer was. As usual when that happens, Christie led me away and convinced me that there were other more viable suspects. 

The evening after I finished reading the book, we watched the TV adaptation starring David Suchet. I have enjoyed all of the Poirot TV episodes that I have seen so far, but this adaptation adhered more closely to the novel than most I have seen. There were a few changes, and one character entirely omitted, but no major changes. I especially liked Edward Fox as Gudgeon, Sarah Miles as Lucy Angkatell and Megan Dodds as Henrietta Savernake.


See reviews at Clothes in Books, Dead Yesterday, Pretty Sinister Books, The Art of Words, and Peggy's Porch.


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Publisher: Berkley Books, 1984. Orig. pub. 1946.
Length: 231 pages
Format: Paperback
Series: Hercule Poirot, #25
Setting: UK
Genre: Mystery
Source: Purchased at the Planned Parenthood book sale, Sept. 2007.

25 comments:

Cath said...

Interesting to read the book and then see the adaptation straight away. I bet that worked a treat. I don't think I've read this one but have certainly seen the TV version as we binge-watched them in er... 2019 I 'think'. At the moment we're binge-watching P.D. James' 'Adam Dalgliesh' TV series on YouTube and Inspector Montalbano (from the Andrea Camilleri book series) on BBC iPlayer, plus old Morses recorded off the TV. What we'll do when we run out I'm not sure, these wonderfil old crime series are helping us through the pandemic.

Kay said...

It's been a long time since I read this Christie book and my memory of it is a bit dim. However, I remember it as one I liked very much. Yes, doing a read and then a watch seems like fun. Enjoy your Christie reading, Tracy!

pattinase (abbott) said...

I don't remember this one but I will watch it if the Poirot's are still on Acorn and not Brit Box, which I got rid of.

Christine said...

One of my favourites, Tracy! I don't remember the TV version, but must look out for it.

Margot Kinberg said...

Oh, I love this one, Tracy! I'm so glad you reminded me of it. The plotting does work well, and Christie misdirects beautifully, I think. I also think the characters are done well, too. Usually Christie isn't noted for her depth of characters, but this one shows that she was quite capable where that's concerned. I watched the TV adaptation, too. I thought it did keep to the original story fairly well, although I honestly don't understand why it didn't keep strictly to the story. But that's me - I'm a purist. I am glad you liked both the novel and the adaptation.

TracyK said...

Cath, I usually like to wait a while before watching an adaptation of a book, so that I won't be so picky about details. But the advantage is that I can include some comments in the post when I write a review.

My determination to read the book before watching the adaptation for the Poirot books is slowing down our journey through the TV series, unfortunately. I would like to see both the 'Adam Dalgliesh' series and the Inspector Montalbano series someday, if they are available.

TracyK said...

Kay, it has been a long time since I have read so many books by one author or in one series together, although I am alternating them with a variety of other books. So far, there has been lots of variety and no problem with getting bored with them. Quite the opposite, in fact.

As far as the adaptations go, it amazes me how David Suchet is so consistent in his portrayal of Poirot.

TracyK said...

Patti, we are watching the Poirot series on Prime/BritBox, but when we first investigated it, the series was also available on Acorn. I don't know what the status is now.

Nigel Bird said...

Makes me think I should read some more of her work - it's been a while.

Nigel Bird said...

Makes me think I should read some more of her work - it's been a while.

TracyK said...

Christine, I went into this book with no expectations and was very pleased with it. Not the usual format, although Christie doesn't stick to a formula anyway. And the adaptation was very well done.

TracyK said...

Margot, I did love this book. I kept changing my mind about who could or would have done it, and got very irritated with some of the characters. That is a good sign that the book is getting me involved.

I agree with you that the changes they made to The Hollow for the adaptation were not necessary. It would have been easy to go with the plot as it was.

One adaptation in the Poirot series that I thought changed way too much was Sad Cypress. But even so, my husband and son, who don't read the books, enjoyed that episode and all of the others. I can accept that in some cases changes have to be made to accommodate different media but in general I like it when adaptations stay with the source.

TracyK said...

Nigel, when I first read a few Hercule Poirot books, I found him annoying, but now I enjoy all his quirks and his self-importance. When I finish the Poirot books, I will have to get back to the Marple books, which also have a lot more variety than I remembered from my youth.

Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

Neeru said...

One of my Favourites, Tracy. I agree with Margot, some very rich characterization over here. Memorable characters.

TracyK said...

I was surprised, Neeru, I did not realize this was so well liked. And, as you say, the characters are very memorable.

carol said...

I just started reading this this weekend. So far I'm enjoying it. I have not guessed the murderer yet, but I don't usually try to.

TracyK said...

Carol, I have read a lot of Hercule Poirot mysteries in the last three months, and this is theh one I enjoyed the most. Good characters, especially. And a country house environment.

Lex @ Lexlingua said...

Oh, I just love the David Suchet TV series, brilliant stuff. And now I want to watch this episode all over again!
~ Lex (lexlingua.co)

TracyK said...

Lex, We just watched The Labours of Hercules from the 13th season of Poirot last night, it was fun. Suchet is the perfect Poirot.

Clothes in Books said...

Thanks for the shoutout, and yes I love this one. I think when I first read it as a teenager it seemed a bit dull, and I wasn't interested in the relationships among the characters. but now I think it one of her best exactly for that reason: the relationships and thepeople's lives. and Henrietta, particularly, is a wonderful character.

TracyK said...

This was such a pleasant surprise, Moira. I have been reading a LOT of Poirot recently, starting in October, and all the reads have been good, interesting and fun. But this one tops the list (of those reads).

col2910 said...

I really must make the effort to read at least one Christie this year. If I had a pound for every time I said that - I could buy another armful of books!

TracyK said...

Col, I think you should read what you like... but, if you did read a Christie this year, then you would have accomplished that goal and be done with it. If only I could take my own advice in such matters.

Unknown said...

TracyK, funny that you mentioned that though some of the characters irritated you, you were still raptly involved and turning the pages. There appears to be a trend lately that if a character(s) annoys or aren't likable to readers, they're ready to chuck the book away. It would be pretty boring if you'd like EVERY character!

TracyK said...

I agree, Unknown, a mix of all kinds of characters is much more realistic. I do like a blend of both characters I can root for and characters that are more difficult.