In her sleep Mrs. Bantry frowned. Something disturbing was penetrating through the dream state, something out of its time. Footsteps along the passage, footsteps that were too hurried and too soon. Her ears listened unconsciously for the chink of china, but there was no chink of china.
The knock came at the door. Automatically, from the depths of her dream, Mrs. Bantry said, "Come in." The door opened; now there would be the chink of curtain rings as the curtains were drawn back.
But there was no chink of curtain rings. Out of the dim green light Mary's voice came, breathless, hysterical. "Oh, ma'am, oh, ma'am, there's a body in the library!"
And then, with a hysterical burst of sobs, she rushed out of the room again.
Mrs. Bantry sat up in bed.
Either her dream had taken a very odd turn or else -- or else Mary had really rushed into the room and had said -- incredibly fantastic! -- that there was a body in the library.
"Impossible," said Mrs. Bantry to herself. "I must have been dreaming."
-- From The Body in the Library, Chapter One, by Agatha Christie
Agatha Christie's The Body in the Library was published in 1942 by William Collins Sons & Co. in London, and by Dodd, Mead & Co. in New York. Many of the residents of St. Mary Mead who appeared in the first full-length Marple mystery twelve years earlier -- The Murder at the Vicarage -- make return appearances in The Body in the Library. Christie wrote Body at the same time as the Tommy and Tuppence Beresford spy thriller N or M? She alternated between the two novels to keep herself "fresh at task."
The Times Literary Supplement wrote of The Body in the Library: "It is hard not to be impressed..."
In 1985 Joan Hickson played the Marple role in the first of several BBC Marples seen on MYSTERY!
Portions of The Body in the Library were filmed in the Sussex resort town of Eastbourne. Watch for the bandstand, the pier, the town beach, Western Lawns and the Grand Hotel.
London's Rivoli Ballroom on Brockley Road is one of the few remaining original dance halls and it is worth a visit just to step into the timewarp that is Britain's last remaining, untouched and totally original 1930's ballroom. The Rivoli holds various events from club nights to Latin and ballroom dancing.
Dorney Court, in Dorney, Buckinghamshire, a many gabled manor house, served as the Bantry home, 'Gossington Hall.' Of great architectural and historical interest. Dorney Court has always been the manor house of Dorney village, first recorded in the Doomsday Book.
Screenwriter Kevin Elyot
In creating a new version of an Agatha Christie/Miss Marple mystery, screenwriter Kevin Elyot set out to make a Marple "for the 21st century," one that would capture the imagination of contemporary viewers.
Elyot, an acclaimed, award-winning writer for both stage and film, has received London's prestigious Evening Standard, Laurence Olivier, and Writers' Guild Awards. The Daily Express called his play The Day I Stood Still "absorbingly sad... Elyot is brilliant at charting the little coincidences and circular patterns of life."
Elyot's television credits include Masterpiece Theatre's The Moonstone (Season 27/97-98) and two Poirot adaptations, Five Little Pigs and Death on the Nile.
What do you think accounts for the enduring popularity of Christie's Marple stories?
Apart from the ingenious plotting, there is something hugely appealing about the idea of an elderly woman beating the police at their own game -- in The Body in the Library, Marple is constantly wrongfooting Melchett and Harper. Also a seemingly sweet old lady, into gardening and knitting, tackling head-on crimes that are sometimes gruesome and violent -- all this offers a compelling juxtaposition.
Geraldine McEwan plays a slightly different Miss Marple. It's partly her acting, but she's also given a backstory.
Miss Marple's backstory is very gently introduced in The Body in the Library, and the suggestion that she has an emotional hinterland helps her to empathize in particular with Mark Gaskell.
Are you comfortable with the changes made to Christie's original plot?
The changes were agreed after extensive discussions with, amongst others, Mathew Prichard, Christie's grandson and the chairman of Agatha Christie Ltd.
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