Seriously candidate to be my favourite by the author (upon some thirty books read). It is not a simple detective story, which a murder happens in and Poirot investigates. It is a collection of characters who, in my opinion, represent various sides of our personality.
In strict order of apparition:
Lucy Angkatell: probably my favourite. Marvellous, brilliant, clever, absent-minded, charming, irresistible.
Midge: little Midge, oppressed by a fate that is not tho one of her dreams and surrounded by people that she judges happier than her.
John Christow: an established professional, intolerant of others’s ignorance or stupidity but, at the same time, full of life, of energy and of desire to realize something useful for the neighbour; finally, also conscious of some debt left with his past.
Gerda Christow: a slow-minded person, not particularly brilliant; but devoted and scrupulous.
Henrietta Savernake: strong, first of all. And alone, with her art. Well conscious of her qualities and of her limits. Together with John, probably the most in-depth character.
Poirot: the same old Poirot but less protagonist than usual (“To you it is unbearable that anyone should be hurt. But to some minds there is something more unbearable still: not to know. To the scientific mind, truth comes first. Truth, however bitter, can be accepted and woven into a design for living.”).
Edward: shy, boring, insignificant. Until the day something lights up in him too.
And, in the end, that little old woman taken to the hospital. A trait-d-union between the living and the dead, between the beginning and the epilogue of the novel. Probably the most living one; rather the most.
Unforgettable every scene with Lucy, the dialogues between Henrietta and John, the sketches with the servants, the final dialogue between Henrietta and the old woman in the hospital, Edward’s oven scene.
Certainly, a lot of sentences could seem trivial and the scenes stereotyped, but I found in them as well the power of the novel: trivial and conventional but, at the same time, real and effective. There are love stories, regrets, struggles for survival, tiredness and jealousy.
And the impression – clear – to be really at the Angkatell’s house, surrounded by people extremely intelligent and brilliant.
And, hovering about everyone and everything, that aunt Agatha’s sense of ineluctability of one’s fate.