Top positive review
A surprisingly deep and thought provoking book
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 26 October 2017
Agatha Christie is my favourite author and I have read many of her books. This was a rereading of "Nemesis" after watching again recently the very good Joan Hickson dramatisation of it which I grew up with in the eighties. It was some years since I had read the book and I was intrigued by how much more complex and thoughtful it is than the BBC production. I take the various points from other reviewers about the author's outdated statements, and note that she was a very old lady when she wrote this. Through Miss Marple she was probably clinging a bit to the views of her girlhood, as elderly people often do. It is rather rambling, at the beginning in particular; but the style of rambling is one I enjoy - pleasant descriptions of an old lady's activities and thought processes. There is also quite a lot about gardens, but I liked that too and felt it fitted in with the theme of the book.
There is quite a lot of reflective thought in the novel on the themes of rape and violence, overprotective love, and mental health issues - things which consistently interested the author. It reminded me in various places of other books of hers - for instance, tweaked a bit, it could be very like "Endless Night", although the latter is a darker tale. It took me back to my girlhood and raised in me questions about the difference in the societal norms of today and of the early to mid twentieth century. One thing that struck me as being a continuing problem was the protection of daughters and how far to go with this. Agatha Christie is critical both of overprotection of teenage daughters with the risk of consequent rebellion, and neglect of them which can similarly lead to danger. Adolescence, she says, is such a difficult time - and this is no less true today. As with many of her novels, I could sense underlying Shakespearean themes. I was reminded of both "Othello" and "Romeo and Juliet" in this one.
The phrase which stuck in my mind in my adolescence from the BBC production of "Nemesis" was "milky drink". It was quoted a lot by my brother and me when we were growing up - a seemingly innocent drink, possibly laced with poison. The book also contains this device, but so much more as well. Old fashioned - yes, perhaps; but I think some themes are timeless and this book discusses some of them. Far from being just the ramblings of an old lady, I actually think this book raises some very interesting questions. It's the sort of story I most like - easy to read, but thought provoking.