I finished reading The Murder at the Vicarage by Agatha Christie back in February. But much like the vicar had no idea what his life was about to look like, my own took a turn I wasn’t expecting. Due to a series of events (including a world pandemic but not restricted to it) this post is long overdue.
“It is difficult to know quite where to begin this story, but I have fixed my choice on a certain Wednesday (or Monday) at luncheon at the vicarage (or my home). The conversation, though in the main irrelevant to the matter in hand, yet contained one or two suggestive incidents which influenced later developments,” (The Murder at the Vicarage, page 1). I was going about my new day under the Rona conditions, trying to help my children complete their school work while at least two of them were resolute about not even trying to have a good day. I was ready to pull my hair out but tried to remain calm and patient towards them in the hopes that they wouldn’t become as frustrated as I was.
Having accomplished hardly any school all day, I received a phone call from my brother close to one in the afternoon. Though it’s not unheard of for him to give me a call, especially after a long time of not keeping in touch, it is rather unusual for him to call me in the middle of the day when he’s normally working on rockets (though in all honesty even after several conversations with him I’m still not quite sure how his work has changed since this whole stay at home business started). But he called and I answered. “Hey Jenn, I’m on my way to mom’s because she was hit by a car while riding her bike. She’s in the ambulance on her way to the hospital with a broken leg.”
Okay, so I don’t exactly remember how he conveyed all of that to me, much like the characters in Christie’s book had a hard time recalling the precise words and actions of others. When something big happens our whole life seems to freeze and either we become hyper aware of everything going on around us or the inverse happens, and we barely remember what followed.
Luckily, Mrs. Marple was hyper aware: her and the vicar. Because really, I don’t think Mrs. Marple would have been able to solve the mystery if it hadn’t been for the vicar’s help. Not just because they were both observant and understood human nature (as dark as it is) but because Mrs. Marple was a woman and not many men in those times would consider anything she said as reliable. That’s one thing I like about the vicar: Len didn’t dismiss anyone but listened to them all. He cared about each and everyone of his parishioners and even if he found them annoying he didn’t brush them off like the inspector did.
Nothing good ever comes from hiding what you’ve done as our murders in the book found out. But often times that’s the truth of it. When we do something bad either intentionally or by accident our instinct is to hide it, to not let anyone else find out who was responsible. We deny we ever did it, to ourselves and to others. We blame anyone who might have possibly been the culprit just like Adam and Eve in the garden. Although, occasionally, as you can see from the man who drove over my mom’s leg, we are brave enough to fight that urge to hide. Thankfully, he didn’t try to run, but has been doing everything he can to make it right.
That is why I think Agatha paints a believable story. She understands both of these things. She knows why we do the things we do and when we do them. And while she paints a dismal picture of old spinster ladies as only good for a lengthy gossip, there’s truth to it. I wonder what we will say in the history books when this pandemic comes to an end. I’ve heard all sorts of gossip about various reactions to the Rona and who is to blame. The gossip isn’t limited to little old ladies by any means. There are so many people jumping into the conversation having only glimpsed a little through their curtains. But it takes more than a glimpse out one’s window to know the truth of it.
My mom’s accident is just one of those glimpses out the window, one where she wasn’t allowed visitors at the hospital where she had to have her knee put back together and only hours after my cousin died in hospice. But there isn’t enough time here, nor is it the right place to tell his whole story. But he, too, is another glimpse through the curtains of the effects of the Corona Virus. Perhaps, after we’ve had time to share all our stories we might be able to piece together the puzzle, but I don’t think we’ll ever do it quite like Agatha did in her murder mystery. She had all the pieces and the luxury of adding the ones she was missing. Not to mention the vast difference between planned evil and natural disasters.
So for our next book pick up a copy of The Final Empire (#1 in the Mistborn Trilogy) by Brandon Sanderson. (Another mystery! 😉 If you can’t finish it by the end of this month, don’t worry. I can’t seem to find the time to finish much of anything lately and I apologize in advance for not being more consistent. My life seems to have gotten away from me. Now, I’m off to solve the mystery of my life.
Oh, and if you would like to share your thoughts on The Murder at the Vicarage, please do! I’d love to hear what you thought. Did you think it was believable? Who was your favorite character?