Back in the Spring I booked a holiday down in Devon for myself, Mum and the two dogs, Coco the Labrador and Pixie the Pug. Mum had her eye on a certain place and she continued to talk about the fact it was incredibly close to Agatha Christie’s holiday home, which certainly grabbed my attention. And so I have just returned from my week away with six new books, a revived interest in Agatha Christie and a need to return as soon as I can.
As far back as I can remember I have been aware of Agatha Christie and her most famous detective, Poirot. I’m not sure if it is because my Mum is a great lover of murder mysteries or the fact that there are always different adaptations on telly, but Christie has always been a subtle literary presence, despite the fact that I have probably watched more of the stories than I have read at this present point in time.
Greenway House is situated deep in the Devon countryside by the River Dart, just outside a village called Galmpton and within driving distance of Paigton and Torquay. It is a National Trust property and is open to the public and looked after by the Trust for future generations to enjoy. As we had brought Coco and Pixie with us there was only a certain distance/amount of activities we could do as we didn’t want to keep them out too long or go anywhere too hot or over crowded, therefore we spent a lot of time at Greenway, which was very doggie friendly and had lovely, shady walks for us to amble/race along depending on the dogs’ moods.
I worked for the Trust for many summers throughout sixth form and university so I have a keen interest in visiting different properties and I can honestly say Greenway is one of the best I have visited. The staff in all areas of the property were friendly and knowledgable, especially the volunteers in the house, who were full of fantastic and interesting information about Agatha Christie and her daughter who owned the house after her. The gardens are beautiful and a tad complicated; there are many routes you can take, up and down many steep, winding paths, past the boathouse, the battery, a few little ponds and a tennis court; there is always something interesting hidden behind each corner.
Of course I couldn’t visit Agatha Christie’s home without purchasing a few books and I have returned with five new novels and her autobiography and Mum bought two books herself, so we can definitely swap. Christie grew up in Devon and was inspired not only by Greenway but Torquay and the surrounding area; there is even a special Greenway boxset of the three novels based in the grounds which I just had to buy, which leads me to the book element of this post.
In Dead Man’s Folly Poirot is summoned by an old friend down to Nasse House; the Summer fete is about to be held and Ariadne Oliver, hired to create a murder hunt, is suspicious that something sinister is going on, she just doesn’t know what. And so begins a typical, cosy crime novel with a few murders, red herrings and several clues for Poirot, and the reader, to try and solve the infamous ‘who dunnit!’ Greenway House and its grounds are clearly the inspiration for Nasse House, which made Dead Man’s Folly the perfect holiday read. It was great to read a few chapters before bed and then go for a stroll around Greenway Gardens the next day, visualising exactly where Poirot and Ariadne discussed the crime and where the body was discovered. If only I could do this with all novels. It certainly brought the story and the characters to life and I can imagine this would be a great way to inspire others to develop a love of reading.
And the all important question; did I solve the ‘who dunnit’ before Poirot and the end of the novel? Well I am pleased to say I guessed the murderer, but I had completely different ideas as to why they might have committed the dreadful crimes. I certainly feel a revival of Chrsitie’s writing in my own reading habits; crime stories were certainly my first love when it came to reading and I think I might be embarking on a whole new journey into the world of murder and mystery, starting with another Poirot adventure in The Clocks.