Shortly after signing a contract to write her first Poirot novel, Sophie Hannah rented the holiday apartment at Greenway with her family. As she was sitting in a deck chair overlooking the river, a stranger approached and said, ‘have you heard? Somebody is writing a new Poirot… very controversial!’
This was one of the many snippets of brilliantly delivered ‘gossip’ that Sophie Hannah shared during her keynote speech at Greenway, as she told the story of how she came to write The Monogram Murders, a new Poirot published in 2014.
There was something magical about hearing Hannah tell this story at Greenway, in particular when she talked about her long love and admiration for Agatha Christie. It was easy to imagine that Poirot might be seated at the back of the marquee, occasionally chuckling and nodding his head, and that the ghost of Agatha was indulging in her own cream tea in the shadows. Hannah’s warmth, generosity and humour seemed to bring Christie and her characters closer. The re-creation of beloved literary characters by contemporary authors might be controversial, but in Hannah’s case it seems natural – her carefully imagined Poirot is both a tribute and a continuation. It’s very satisfying to encounter him again and to see how cleverly Hannah makes a world for him.
I feel certain that the ghost of Agatha enjoyed hearing Hannah read from her forthcoming second Poirot, Closed Casket. Come September, I thoroughly recommend that you pick up a copy and enjoy it in the gardens at Greenway.