Agatha Christie Is A Feminist!
But this intensive Christie marathon has had an unexpected side effect. I've noticed that Agatha was a feminist. Yes, she has her shallow, stereotypical female characters: her thick-headed maids, her ditzy secretaries and her boring old ladies; and lots of books do end with a wedding on the horizon.
But I've been genuinely surprised to discover so many brave, smart, independent, witty, resourceful and daring heroines in Christie's pages. Emily Trefusis in The Sittaford Mystery, Victoria Jones in They Came To Baghdad, Frankie Derwent in Why Didn't They Ask Evans?, Bridget Conway in Murder Is Easy, Lucy Eylesbarrow in 4.50 From Paddington, all take control of the investigation. Often this woman will have a young man on hand to share the danger, but she is never subservient to him, and it's usually her insight and courage that saves the day.
(And I'm not even going to mention Miss Marple, the over-looked, under-estimated sleuth whose sharp wisdom is discounted because she is just a sweet old lady, and what would sweet old ladies know about life and human nature? Well, quite a lot, as it turns out.)
I used to read a lot of Agatha Christie as a teenager. In later life, I was slightly scathing about the old girl. Well, Agatha, I apologise. Little did I realise that along with intriguing life-and-death puzzles and lots of incidental information about English society between the wars, you were providing me with some excellent female role models.