After a short rest, the blog is going to fire up for another reading project. Nothing as hard-core as War and Peace. This will be a simple (and awesome – did I mention it’s awesome?) reading project for three weeks. I’ll be reading and blogging about Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None.
It will start in September, but here are three things that you need to know:
What Is This Book and Why Do I Want to Read It?
For many decades, English author Agatha Christie was the Queen of Crime Fiction and created at least two famous detectives (Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple). However, her best-selling book features no detective at all.
Instead, it tells the tale of ten people, all strangers to one another, who journey to a small island off the coast of England. On the first evening, a recording announces that the ten of them have committed a crime and they will be punished for it. From then on, one by one, the inhabitants of the island are murdered.
It’s hard to describe this without it sounding like exaggeration – but this is one of the most superbly-plotted mystery thrillers ever written. Yes, it’s a bit dated. Yes, it’s a bit politically incorrect in parts. Yes, the characters are quite two-dimensional. But none of that matters . . . within two chapters we’re hooked, and the suspense does not let up for the rest of the book. It’s an astonishing read, and if there’s any justice in this world, it will never go out of print.
You may have seen the recent television show, Harper’s Island, which consisted of 25 people on an island, slowly getting bumped off one by one, and be wondering how close that story was to this one. Take it from me – it’s nothing like it. Apart from the island and the murder theme, the television show was a poor imitation.
So how does the reading project work?
I’ll be reading and blogging on the chapters according to the schedule set out below. I’d invite you to get yourself a copy of the book somewhere and read along and comment as well. If you’ve never read the book before, the challenge is that you’re only supposed to read one chapter a day for three weeks’ worth of business days. This will drag out the suspense dreadfully and you’ll hate it and spend the day thinking about it. . . . Good. That’s the idea.
Some of you may be tempted to peek at the end or read ahead. You’re spoilsports. Go slow, read one chapter a day, and build some character. And don’t even think about Googling to find out what happens.
For those of you who have read this before, you know full well that you’ll enjoy reading it again. However, I don’t trust people not to leak spoilers. So, I’m making all comments moderated between now and the end of the challenge, just to make sure that nothing gets spoiled.
To make it more interactive, I also want to encourage people to get your friends reading. You’ll see that the final day of this schedule calls for an extended reading of one chapter plus an epilogue and a letter. I’d recommend getting friends to read and discuss (and hopefully comment here) during that time – but then on the last day (a Saturday), why not gather in a lounge room/cafe/park somewhere and have a read aloud session on the last chapter? If you’ve all been playing by the rules and not reading ahead, you’ll enjoy the unimaginable pleasure of experiencing the denoument together with a group.
It’ll be great fun.
Anyway, send this post around to friends to get them interested. Over the next few weeks, I’ll post up a few more tidbits about the novel. If you’re in, drop a comment and let me know – I’d love to know that there are little And Then There Were None groups having a crack at this in various cities around the world. (Maybe I’m a bit ambitious, but hey, why not?)
The Reading Schedule for Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None (September 2009)
Monday 8 – Chapter 1
Tuesday 9 – Chapter 2
Wednesday 10 – Chapter 3
Thursday 11 – Chapter 4
Friday 12 – Chapter 5
Monday 15 – Chapter 6
Tuesday 16 – Chapter 7
Wednesday 17 – Chapter 8
Thursday 18 – Chapter 9
Friday 19 – Chapter 10
Monday 22 – Chapter 11
Tuesday 23 – Chapter 12
Wednesday 24 – Chapter 13
Thursday 25 – Chapter 14
Friday 26 – Chapter 15
Saturday 27 – Finale: Chapter 16 & Epilogues