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Reading group: Agatha Christie’s Endless Night is our book for November

Agatha Christie’s 1967 novel Endless Night has topped our poll and will be the subject of this month’s Reading group.

That evocative title comes from William Blake’s Auguries of Innocence, which, alongside its main theme, also hints at guilt:

Every night and 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.

Christie was good at titles, wasn’t she? Even more impressive is the fact that she wrote this book in just six weeks, when she was a sprightly 76. At the time, she described it as her favourite. It was also well received by the critics; writing in the Observer, Maurice Richardson admired the way “the suspense is kept up all the way” and Christie’s ability to change her style from novel to novel, remarking: “She’ll be wearing black leather pants next, if she isn’t already.” In the Guardian, Francis Iles warned that “it is impossible to say too much about the story without giving away vital secrets” and noted that “the crashing, not to say horrific surprise at the end is perhaps the most devastating that this surpriseful author has ever brought off”.

This presents an interesting challenge for us on the Reading group. I don’t think we’ll be able to discuss the book without talking about the ending – but we should try to respect everyone who is still reading by holding off on the spoilers until next week. For now, let’s confine ourselves to dark hints and red herrings and any other interesting aspects of the book.

It all sounds like fun to me, but, as was pointed out by the excellent Palfreyman on last week’s thread, this novel may not last us

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