It’s Miss Marple May!!!!! That’s right, I have decided to spend a whole month discussing different incarnations of the most famous female detective in literature. Though not so much in the general media. When it comes to adaptations, it’s a really short list I had to look through. In fact the only category I had some difficulties to decide which adaptation I would discuss was when it came to TV-adaptations.
But before we discuss to the adaptations, let’s talk about the book version of Miss Jane Marple. Agatha Christie created her, because she wanted to give old maids a voice. So she wrote about an old and frail old lady with a very sharp mind. In 12 novels and 20 short stories she is portrayed as the typical old spinster. Her only living relative is her nephew Raymond West. Miss Marple is wealthy enough that she never had to work, but she has to be careful with her resources.
Unlike other detectives, she is not particularly adventurous, in fact her favourite pastime is knitting. In a lot of stories, she doesn’t even leave the house, instead she listens to what her visitors tell her and then draws her conclusions, which are often based on something she experienced in life.
Now, to be honest, this method is the main reason why to me Miss Marple stories are a little bit hit and miss. You never know if you get a well researched logical conclusion based on facts or one of the kind “I experienced something like this in the past, so it has to be the solution this time around, too”, making leaps which makes you wonder if someone told Miss Marple the solution of the case beforehand. It’s the biggest problem of any detective story that the author knows the solution and therefore might reveal too much too early or not enough to make the conclusion believable. Miss Marple stories are often a little bit off-balance, sometimes painfully obvious, sometimes too convoluted (but, like all Agatha Christie stories, always well researched when it comes to poison and similar).
Nevertheless, Miss Marple is one of the most iconic figures of literature, with a very long shadow. She reminds us that old does not necessarily mean silly, and frail not harmless. So let’s celebrate her this months. Starting by you telling me what your favourite Miss Marple stories are.