Living in the country was like a new game to my attractive sister.
‘At any rate,’ she said, ‘I look all right, don’t I?’
I studied her critically and was not able to agree.
Joanna was dressed (by Mirotin) for le Sport. That is to say she was wearing a skirt of outrageous and preposterous checks. It was skin-tight, and on her upper half she had a ridiculous little short-sleeved jersey with a Tyrolean effect. She had sheer silk stockings and some irreproachable but brand new brogues.
‘No,’ I said, ‘you’re all wrong. You ought to be wearing a very old tweed skirt, preferably of dirty green or faded brown. You’d wear a nice cashmere jumper matching it, and perhaps a cardigan coat, and you’d have a felt hat and thick stockings and old shoes. Then, and only then, you’d sink into the background of Lymstock High Street, and not stand out as you do at present.’ I added: ‘Your face is all wrong, too.’
‘What’s wrong with that? I’ve got on my Country Tan Make-up No. 2.’
‘Exactly,’ I said. ‘If you lived in Lymstock, you would have on just a little powder to take the shine off your nose, and possibly a soupcon of lipstick – not very well applied – and you would almost certainly be wearing all your eyebrows instead of only a quarter of them.’
observations: I’m collecting outbreaks of poison pen letters in books at the moment (see here and watch for more, or click on the label below), and this book really is Exhibit A.
I recently did a blogpost on my favourite Agatha Christie novels, and I said about The Moving Finger:
This has been one of my favourites since I first read it as a young teenager – it has a particularly satisfying plot, very well-worked-out, and Marple is sharp and has sensible things to say. But of course secretly, what really sold it to the very young me was the makeover scene, where Megan Hunter is whisked off to London by narrator Jerry, because he has recognized her inner beauty. This was one of the original scenes I wanted to illustrate on Clothes in Books (see more of them in this entry), and it is astonishing that I haven’t yet done it.-- but when the moment came, this was a much better scene. The makeover (and oh, Clothes in Books does love a makeover) is wonderful. Jerry is given the killer line ‘It just infuriates me to see you so slack’, and then, half a day’s magic later –
Megan was standing looking at herself in a long mirror. I give you my word I hardly recognised her! Tall and slim as a willow with delicate ankles and feet.. quality and distinction in every line of her…-- but there is very little about the clothes, it’s left vague. And Joanna being country is a nice little bit of satirical observation.
The plot concerns poison pen letters in a small village and though short and straightforward I think is very well-done, very clever and full of good clues (not always the case with Marple).
More poison pens to come – click on the label below - and there