Endless Night by Agatha Christie – A Review
Rating : 3.5/5
Date of Publication : 30 October 1967
Back to my light reading mode, I decided to read Endless Night by Agatha Christie from my TBR. My obsession with Agatha Christie has led to a considerable reduction of her novels from my TBR pile. The one that inevitably gets my attention from the TBR is “Curtain – The Last Case of Poirot”, but I am hesitant to pick it up as I do not want to be burdened by the image of Poirot as an invalid haunting my mind when I read other Poirot novels. So, I decided to pick Endless Night instead of Curtain. The title Endless Night has been taken from William Blake’s poem Auguries of Innocence and the premise of the novel is aligned with the theme of the poem.
“Every Night & every Morn
Some to Misery are Born
Every Morn and every Night
Some are Born to sweet delight
Some are Born to sweet delight
Some are Born to Endless Night”
Michael Rogers, a penniless but proud charlatan is driven by two thoughts – to become rich and to settle down in a magnificent house with the girl of his dreams. He ropes in the esteemed architect Santonix to build this house for him. He visits a dilapidated country house, locally known as Gipsy’s Acre and immediately cherishes this place as the location of his future house. A chance encounter with the American heiress Ellie Gutman, a whirlwind romance and marriage that soon follows makes all his dreams come true. However, an old woman warns the couple about an ancient curse on Gipsy’s Acre and soon things start to go awry with unfortunate incidents happening at the house. Life becomes more complicated for Michael when Ellie’s beautiful yet willful assistant Greta Anderson decides to join them at Gipsy’s Acre and both get into belligerent fight. Will Michael and Ellie get their happily ever-after at Gipsy’s Acre?
The novel slightly differed from my regular Christie mysteries due to the absence of Hastings and Poirot. The story is narrated by Michael Rogers who gives an account of his life from the time of his chance encounter of Gipsy’s Acre and the events that unfold thereafter with certain insightful glimpses into his past. As Michael is an unrefined youth with minimal means, the language and perspective of the narration is very different from that of the polished demeanor of Hastings. This showed a significantly different writing style by Christie.
The character formation and description also stood out from her other books. As my previous read was Five Little Pigs which had pages and pages dedicated to psychological profiling of the protagonist, the character description in this book failed to impress me. Yet, on hindsight, I feel that the way the narrator and Ellie Gutman were presented was unusual of Christie. The main characters were portrayed to us not just by description but through various events and incidents taking place in the story. Thus, they were revealed to us very slowly as the various layers of their personality were peeled off. However, the sub-characters were not completely fleshed out and were left for the reader’s discretion as the author spent no further effort than a few insightful sentences.
The plot was intriguing with enough red herrings to confuse the readers before Christie gave her customary ending that was shocking to all. The presentation of the novel was a bit meandering with half of the novel spent on establishing the background like the budding romance between Ellie and Michael and the character development of the leading pair. This could create frustration especially amongst the Poirot readers as Poirot novels directly delve into the heart of the mystery. In this case, the deviations in the narrations are completely worthwhile as all of them play important role in the climax. The climax by itself is also unprecedented and will be rewarding for all the effort spent on reading the first half of the novel.
Overall, the book is a good read differing from the regular Christie novels in presentation (but vaguely similar to two other famous Christie books which I cannot list here in fear of spoilers), but incorporating her classic deceptive tricks over readers for guessing the climax. A must read for Agatha Christie fans and all fans of mysteries!