The Christian World of Agatha Christie | Nick Baldock | First Things

Her bedside reading:

Christie was baptized into the Church of England, although her peripatetic mother dabbled in other religions, including Catholicism, and introduced Agatha to the possibilities of occult spirituality, a theme that recurs in her stories outside the classic detective genre. Nonetheless, it was her mother’s copy of the Imitation of Christ that Christie kept by her bedside, an inspiration she passed onto her detective Jane Marple, a character A. N. Wilson called “a more impressive creation than those old women such as Mrs. Moore in the novels of E. M. Forster, who are somehow meant to carry quasi-mythic weight and hidden wisdom.”

Inscribed on the flyleaf of the Imitation was a quotation from Romans, beginning “who shall separate us from the love of Christ?” At Christie’s memorial service in 1976, her publisher William Collins shared this as “a reflection of the gentle Christian spirit that resided within her.” “Agatha,” Sir William concluded, “knew what true religion meant.”

Not quite, perhaps, says the writer. But it’s a clue to her detective stories, he also says.

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