Archive for April, 2020

April 27, 2020

The Name Game


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I love to learn about names. What they mean, why they’re chosen, it all fascinates me. My name is Kimberly, chosen by my mom because she had never known of anyone named Kim except for the actress Kim Novak. That was up until she met her room mate in the maternity ward at Bon Secours Hospital. It had been decided my name would be Ann Elizabeth, but Mom changed her mind and when it came time to fill out the birth certificate I became Kimberly Anne, much to my dad’s surprise. At least it wasn’t Robin, another of Mom’s choices. “She won’t be named after no damned bird,” said Dad. And he was right, instead I was named for a woman Mom never saw again.

My mom’s name is Frances, she’s named after her aunt, my grandmother’s sister. Mom always said she felt fortunate she had been born in the parlor at Aunt Frances’s house and not one of her other aunts. Elsie, Lottie, and Desi were not names that appealed to Mom, though both my sister and I considered the name Lottie for our own children. My daughter ended up with the name Monica, but the protagonist in my supernatural stories is named Lottie, a nickname for Charlotte.

Naming characters in stories is fun. I think Agatha Christie found great enjoyment in this process. Many times she uses names to keep the reader on their toes, such as in A Murder is Announced with the names Lottie [who knew it was so popular?] and Lettie. Was this merely a slip of the tongue or were Lottie and Lettie two different people? I hope by now you’ve read that book and know the answer.

In They Do It With Mirrors, Miss Marple agrees to stay with her old friend Carrie Louise Serrocold. When she arrives at Stoneygates, she soon learns that she is the only person who refers to her friend as Carrie Louise. Mr. Serrocold, her friend’s husband, calls her Carolyn, while the secretary says Cara, and to Gina, the granddaughter she is Grandmam. Miss Marple makes note of this, but nothing more is mentioned about it throughout the book. I wonder was there a point for the names originally that just got lost or if it was a commentary by Christie on how we are seen by others.

I am mostly called Kim by just about everyone except for my financial adviser who insists on calling me Kimberly.  My mom never called me Kimberly even when I was in trouble. My cousins call me Kimmy, which is not my favorite. When my sister was a toddler and just learning to talk she called me Day because my grandfather would call me Kimmy Kay. She had a habit of only saying the end parts of words and that’s how it came out for her, Kay was Day. That was pretty cute.

Our names are important, they’re our identity and, many times, say a lot about us. For example, the name Kim means chief of war. It also written that people [because Kim can be used for both girls and boys] named Kim tend to be sensitive, eager to please and outgoing. It also says they can be perfectionist, strong-willed, and artistic.  I think I was named appropriately.

Think back to some of your favorite characters in books. Their names conjure up a certain image. Would James Bond be as dynamic if he were called Ralph Thomas? You’d expect Dorothy Gale {get it?} to be swept away in a mighty wind, but maybe not Patty Jones. Jane Marple is a plain, unassuming name. We can visualize her at once and believe that she is an elderly spinster. Hercule Poirot also tells us what we can expect from this character. Hercule, which is much like Hercules, means strong and refined. Hercule Poirot’s strength is in his little gray cells.

Are you named for anyone in particular? Do you know the story behind your name and why it was chosen? I would really like to hear your stories.

In the meantime, I have begun to read A Pocket Full of Rye, the next novel in the Miss Marple series. What are you reading? Let me know.

Stay well and have a lovely week!

April 13, 2020

In Isolation With Agatha Christie


Agatha House 6How is everyone doing? It’s been thirty days since I’ve left my house. You would think I could have read a number of books in that amount of time, but the truth is I’m just finishing up A Murder is Announced and have only begun They Do It With Mirrors.

I’ve been thinking a lot how Agatha Christie lived through the flu pandemic of 1918 and how similar that was in many ways to what we are experiencing now. She  must have felt very isolated. There wouldn’t have been Face Book to update her status or post selfies, and absolutely no Face Time or Zoom meetings.

In 1918, Agatha would have just been settling in with her husband Archie at their flat in London. He had been reassigned there in 1917. I have not yet read her autobiography, but given her nursing experience in the war, I wonder if she also used those skills to help others during the pandemic.

What is everyone doing to help themselves through this time? In addition to reading, I’m working on a short story that is due the end of June. I’m also hooked on a show on Acorn called 800 Words. I’ve been walking a mile or two most days and meditating and doing Qi Gong daily. It has really helped in keeping up my spirits. IMG_20180227_072116834_HDR

I’d love to hear what everyone is up to, whether you’re reading Christie or not, and how you are passing these sometimes endless days.

Until next week, I hope you all stay well and keep reading!

April 6, 2020

The Big Four



Happy Sunday! How’s everyone doing? It’s another week that I was unable to get a copy of an Agatha Christie book. You all must be doing a lot of reading out there! After skimming the reviews about this particular Poirot book, I can’t say I’m disappointed that I missed out on it.

This novel, which in actuality was several short stories thread together, is considered by many to be Christie’s least successful novel and her most controversial.  She completed the book while in the process of divorcing her husband and not long after the death of her mother.

Without the book to read, I did the second best thing. I sat down and turned on Britbox, and once again I enjoyed my favorite Poirot actor David Suchet. I thought the show was interesting and was happy I was able to see it. According to one article, this book was hard to film for many reasons, the wide range of locations being only one of them. This story was one of the last to be filmed in the Poirot series.

Beginning next week I will only be putting out one post a week on Mondays. There we will discuss both Poirot and Miss Marple. Until the library reopens we may need to stick to discussing the books I own which means we would be reading out of order. I think that will be fine and we will still be covering every novel featuring Christie’s most famous sleuths.

I hope you and your families are all well. I’m staying home and washing my hands frequently. I hope you are doing the same!