Wednesday 22 May 2024

Read Along: For the Children's Sake by Susan Schaeffer Macaulay

I'll be hosting a read along of Susan Schaeffer Macaulay's book, For the Children's Sake on Substack. My first post will be in early June and will cover the Introduction and Chapter 1.

Whether you are a parent, home educator, a teacher, a grandparent, an aunty or uncle, or you have a heart for children, this book will show you how to extend learning to every facet of life. Good and true ideas may be found in many different contexts and this balanced and practical view of education and life will be beneficial whatever your background or beliefs.

For more details see here.

Friday 17 May 2024

Crooked House (1949) by Agatha Christie

Crooked House is one of Agatha Christie’s special favourites – she said that writing it was pure pleasure and she considered this book one of her best.

I saved it up for years, thinking about it, working it out, saying to myself: ‘one day, when I’ve plenty of time, and want to really enjoy myself- I’ll begin it!’

There is no Poirot or Miss Marple, but there is Charles Hayward, a young man who comes back to England after five years' war service to ask Sophia Leonides, the woman he loves, to marry him. But a problem arises. Sophia’s rich grandfather, Aristides, dies suddenly and his doctor suspects poison. With the whole household under a cloud, she will not accept Charles’ offer of marriage until the situation is resolved. If it ever can be.

Charles’ father is none other than Assistant Commissioner for Scotland Yard. The Leonides case, being under his jurisdiction, he suggests that Charles get information from the ‘inside’ – with Sophia’s full knowledge, of course. And so Charles is introduced to the family and ends up doing some detecting on the side.

I’d always taken a certain amount of interest in my father’s police work, but nothing had prepared me for the moment when I should come to take a direct and personal interest in it.

Crooked House is a clever story with a very surprising and unsettling end! Agatha Christie displays some psychological leanings in this book – the influence of hereditary being one:

Most people can deal with one weakness – but they mightn’t be able to deal with two weaknesses of a different kind.

Charles asks his father if there is a ‘common denominator’ of murderers and he replies,

‘Yes, I’ve never met a murderer who wasn’t vain…It’s their vanity that leads to their undoing, nine times out of ten.’

Josephine Tey’s Inspector Grant made the same observation about the vanity of murderers in The Singing Sands and The Franchise Affair.