Saturday, January 14, 2023

A Short Review: Miss Marple, The Life and Times

The Life and Times of Miss Jane Marple

"There is no detective in England equal to a spinster lady
of uncertain age with plenty of time on her hands."
Rev. Leonard Clement, Murder at the Vicarage

I think it was Miranda Mills from Yorkshire, UK, who recommended this charming book a few weeks ago on her lovely vlog. My interest was piqued and I ordered a copy. Such a familiar, cozy read it's been over these past few wintery days. As one reviewer puts it, 'a great treat for Agatha Christie addicts'. And yes, it has been a treat.

Author Anne Hart shares how she enjoyed working on this short biography of the beloved fictional female sleuth, Miss Jane Marple. (She's also written a biography for Hercule Poirot). The Marple book was first published in 1985—with the 'kind' approval of Agatha Christie's daughter, Rosalind Hicks. The revised edition, with the charming book cover you see above, was released in 2019.

In this slender volume, Anne Hart describes Miss Marple, where she came to live, who were her friends, hints of her family and upbringing, and how her crime detection path began. Ms. Hart gathers all the clues and descriptions found in the twelve Miss Marple books and twenty short stories. And in weaving together these bits and pieces, she gives the reader a fuller picture of the bright, elderly woman behind the fluffy yarn and knitting needles. A bibliography at the end of the book includes not only a list of all the Marple novels and short stories but the various Marple stage, film, TV, and radio productions (and who played in them), as well as the audiobooks and who read them. This biography is a lovely companion to tuck alongside all your favourite Christie novels.

If you are a fan, you've probably heard the tale of how years before actress Joan Hickson ever played the role of Miss Marple, she played other roles in several Agatha Christie productions. When Agatha saw Joan Hickson in one of these productions, she told Joan, 'I hope one day you will play my dear Miss Marple'. Of all the actresses who have played Miss Marple, Joan Hickson is my absolute favourite. In my view, she seems to have best captured the old world feeling I get when I read the books. All three women—Agatha, Joan, and Jane Marple—seem to have similar backgrounds, being brought up in the late Victorian to early Edwardian eras.  

For interest's sake, Agatha Christie was born in 1890 and died in 1976; Joan Hickson was born in 1906 and died in 1998; and from the novels and stories, as Miss Marple reminisces about her childhood and youth, we get the idea that Jane Marple was created to have a similar upbringing, very late Victorian to early Edwardian. Joan Hickson would certainly have understood the times the old spinster was thought to have known and experienced. Maybe that's why Joan felt so authentic.

I hope you've enjoyed this little book chat, and I do hope your weekend is unwinding in pleasant ways.

Heart hugs,


  1. Even though this book has been around for a long time, it's new to me. Looking forward to reading it. Thanks for the heads up.

  2. I do agree with you Brenda, Joan Hickson was a perfect Miss Marple. She just became the character rather than 'acting'. She always reminded me of my Grandma!

  3. This book is new to me too. I love Miss Marple, and I agree, Joan Hickson played her perfectly. In the TV shows with the various Miss Marples, there are sometimes hints of a secret love affair in her past. Does the book cover that?

    1. The clue to an earlier love possibility seems to be when Miss Marple says 'Mother nipped it in the bud' and glad when she saw the fellow years later.

  4. Thank you for this recommendation! I am a fan who tries to catch every PBS showing of Miss Marple(and Poirot).

  5. Thank you very much for your mention of Miranda Mills' vlog back along. I have really enjoyed watching her vlog and considering her book recommendations. Now I seem to think that I need a head band.

    1. Oh yes, those headbands - I've been hankering for one or two of those as well. :)

  6. I've been watching Miranda's vlog from time to time and appreciate her book suggestions. This is one that I will look for - I love the Miss Marple stories best of all Agatha Christie's works.

  7. Thank you for the recommendation, Brenda! The book sounds delightful and I am putting a couple in my Amazon cart for my daughters who are Agatha Christie fans!

  8. Count me in for the Agatha Christie addicts' convention. And the Joan Hickson fun club, best Marple ever. Have you seen the (relatively) new Why Didn't They Ask Evans? adaptation? I thought it was rather sweet.


To My Beautiful Readers,

Some people come into our lives, leave footprints on our hearts, and we are never the same. ~ Franz Peter Schubert

Thank you so much for leaving your 'footprint' here in my comment box. I do appreciate you taking a moment to share your thoughts today.

Brenda xo