My Favourite Book: why And Then There Were None is the one for Rebecca

Welcome to the first piece in our new series, My Favourite Book. Staff from our libraries – all sadly for the moment closed – around West Sussex will tell us which book has made the biggest impression on them and why.

Thursday, 9th April 2020, 11:00 am
Rebecca Robertson, librarian books, reading & engagement at Chichester Library

We start with Rebecca Robertson, librarian – books, reading & engagement at Chichester Library. Rebecca’s favourite book is And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie. Over to Rebecca to explain why:

“Asking a librarian or any book-lover to choose their favourite book is a challenging request – so I’ve decided to talk about the book which I feel was the most important to me at a specific time in my life…

“Agatha Christie’s masterpiece And Then There Were None is the best-selling crime novel of all time. First published in 1939, the plot centres around ten strangers who are invited by an unknown host to Soldier Island, an isolated rock near the Devon coast. Each is hiding a dark secret. In the guests’ rooms hangs a copy of an ominous nursery rhyme Ten Little Soldier Boys and as they are killed one by one, their murders mimicking the fates in the rhyme, the guests realise the killer must be among them…

“This book was recommended to me by a colleague when I was seventeen and working part-time at Selsey Library. Following many years of studying and exams, I was just getting back into reading for pleasure as a way of relaxing during a transitionary period in my life. It’s a cliché, but I was hooked from the first page and I devoured it over a couple of days. I was completely immersed and it reignited my passion and enjoyment of books and reading. It was the first time I had read a crime novel and the ending just astounded me – I thought it was absolutely ingenious – and I still do.

“I have re-read it a couple of times over the years, but I don’t like to do so too often so as to ensure the sense of foreboding each time. Unfortunately I can never again experience the shock of the ending for the first time, but I have recommended the book to colleagues, friends and family members so that I can share in their surprise and awe. Having read a variety of crime and thriller novels in subsequent years, I sometimes wonder if, had And Then There Were None not been my first foray into the genre, would I still regard it so highly? Was I just naïve to the experience of a real page-turner? However, on reflection, I have to say there are very few crime novels which offer as satisfying an ending as this.

The book has been adapted for the stage, cinema and television many times over, and it was with trepidation that I watched the 2015 TV adaptation (written by Sarah Phelps and produced by Mammoth Screen with Agatha Christie Productions.

“As I find is often the case when much-loved books are reimagined for the screen, I was slightly disappointed that what I was watching didn’t quite fit with how I had experienced the story. It was far more sinister than I remembered – but I enjoyed watching it with my family – waiting for their reaction to the reveal of the murderer!

“I have been inspired to read many more of Agatha Christie’s novels including Death on the Nile, Five Little Pigs, The Sittaford Mystery and The Murder of Roger Ackroyd. Although And Then There Were None remains my favourite, I do like the Hercule Poirot mysteries – he’s such an intriguing character and I love the way in which he brings all the clues together for the climax of a case.”

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Following the latest advice in relation to COVID-19, all West Sussex Libraries are closed until further notice, but there are thousands of eBooks, eAudiobooks, eComics, eMagazines and eNewspapers available free to library members via the eLibrary service. Visit: http://www.westsussex.gov.uk/elibrary to explore the collection.

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