Jane Haddam’s WordPress weblog

Taking the Week End

with 6 comments

How do you spell that, anyway–weekend?  week-end?  week end?  I have no idea.

Anyway, it’s Saturday, and I’m taking the week-end, meaning doing nothing serious–not even thinking about anything serious–until Monday.  Every once in a while, I have to do that, or I go crazy. 

Well, okay.  I will still think about my mother and call the nursing home twice a day, just to make sure.  Nobody calls me when anything goes wrong.

But otherwise, what I’m going to do is to watch a whole bunch of David Suchet Hercule Poirot DVDs and eat leftovers, so that I don’t even have to cook.

I wonder what it is about Miss Marple, though, that makes it so much harder to cast her than it is–or at least than it has been–to cast Poirot.

Albert Finney did a marvelous Poirot, and so does David Suchet. 

But I think Joan Hickson is the only Miss Marple who really fits the character as written in the books.  Margaret Rutherford was, of course, not even an attempt to be faithful.  But there have been other attempts–Angela Lansberry and Helen Hayes in the past, and now these two (whose names I can’t remember) for the A&E Masterpiece Mystery things.

Hickson died soon after A Carribean Mystery, which was definitely too bad–but she had everything Marple gave Christie.  And I’d like to be still working at eight-nine or whatever it was she was.  If you’re going to live a long time, that’s the way to do it.

Geraldine McEwan–there, I found one–was apparently chosen to “evolve the character” and give her a more modern feel.  I don’t want and evolved and modern Miss Marple.  I like Miss Marple.

And as for Julia McKenzie, she’s so bright eyed and bushy tailed and chipper–and she looks like she wears so much make-up–that I go nuts every time I try to pay attention to those.

Like I said, I wonder why it’s so hard for production companies to find the right kind of actress.  Maybe actresses are naturally more “highly colored” that Miss Marple should be.  Maybe production companies just don’t believe that somebody who is like Miss Marple–and Hickson really was–will hold an audience’s attention.

But Hickson held it very well.  And I think I own most of the full length ones of those.

I also wonder if I haven’t started doing what I did as a child, and what I think I may have done throughout my life–if I haven’t started looking for a literary model for the next stage.

I don’t think I ever gave much thought to what I would be like as an old woman.  And I’ll admit that I’m not one yet.

But that kind of thing is coming, if I’m lucky. And I’d very much like to know what it looks like.

I tried to explain this to Bill once before he died.  There are forms of fiction that exist to tell us what something looks like–a period in history, a particular way of  communal life, a time of life.

A Moveable Feast is supposed to be a memoir.  What it really is is a wonderful picture of a certain population of Paris in the 1920s. so wonderful that it’s possible to just live there while you’re reading the thing.

And I know, for those of you for whom story is everything, that some people find this annoying–but it’s one of those things fiction is able to do, and I do sometimes go to books to find it.

So I wonder if I’m not going to book now to figure out how to be in the world when I pass whatever line  it is that will start making me lie about my age to appear younger.

When, when I was younger, I lied about it all the time, to appear older.

Today, though, I think I’ll just stick to Poirot.

And point out that I think what Cheryl went through sounds more like an alien invasion than a thunderstorm.

Written by janeh

August 21st, 2010 at 8:01 am

Posted in Uncategorized

6 Responses to 'Taking the Week End'

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  1. Who are you, and what have you done with Jane Haddam?

    On character and role models: I AM talking to the woman who insisted that all fictional detectives were the same, because they all served the same plot function, am I not? And the same with adventure story heroes? And who threw verbal rocks at me for suggesting a modern prose fiction writer might tell us how we ought to behave, instead of just describing how we did?

    Welcome to the dark side, where the novel needn’t always have the same purpose.

    But both points are taken. I think when we have to move into a new role, many of us use as exemplars people we’ve seen in that position, and not always real people. Some fictional people are more consistent and better examples of type. And certainly different ages are different roles.

    I think you underrate story, but I have been places in books you can’t even imagine–Lankhmar and Todos Santos, the Wizards’ Tor and Pell Station; Vorkosigan House and Jekkara Old Town–across the Salt Wastes and up the Yann. I’ll pass on the Paris of the Alcoholics, thanks. There will be a frigate leaving for the Hyborean Age later today.


    21 Aug 10 at 10:46 am

  2. I’m looking for some role models for myself as I make this passage from Mother to Crone, so let me know what you find! I keep ending up with Emma Goldman or Gertrude Stein or something and that’s not going to end well….



    21 Aug 10 at 11:53 am

  3. As far as elderly women go, I rather like the Dowager Duchess of Denver. That’s Lord Peter Wimsey’s mother.


    21 Aug 10 at 3:00 pm

  4. Oddly enough, it wasn’t really much of a storm, well, except for the bit where the lightning struck and the thunder sounded. I’m thinking that I should tell the local phone company that they really shouldn’t require their call center people to tell customers who have just reported a complete lack of telephone and therefore internet service that they might like to try their new online self-service reporting software!

    I don’t consciously pick up pictures of what someone looks like from books – individual characters, yes, but I don’t think I apply their experiences to me, and I don’t go looking for answers there. I’ve thought about aging a lot, particularly over the last few years, but ever since I was a child I’ve known lots of elderly women, some of whom I have admired immensely. So I’m not short of role models – or, for that matter, examples of women who, well, don’t age well. So I know what I’d like to be like, should I reach old age, and what I don’t want to be like. I don’t whether I will be able to end up in the desired category, though!

    I didn’t like the new Miss Marples – they not only changed her, they changed the stories for no apparent reason than to create novelty. I don’t watch TV versions of classic detective stories for the novel plot twists.


    21 Aug 10 at 6:34 pm

  5. On the other hand, many of the characters in the continuing series I enjoy adamantly refuse to age, appropriately or otherwise. Spencer started out as a 37 year old Korean war veteran. Thirty-five years later he was not yet 50. Nice if you can manage it.

    So what kind of role model is someone who doesn’t age? Besides Peter Pan, I mean.

    Here near the heart of Hollywood I see plenty of women obsessed with looks and youth. When I first moved here I had several clients on the outskirts of show biz, and the demands made on the women who worked in those places to be young, thin, expensively dressed and made up were to my eyes, outrageous. The casualties of the war to be young are all around us here…just go to any cafe or deli the locals frequent, and wait for a victim of plastic surgery to wander in.

    Cheryl, I hear that happiness lies not in getting what you want…but in wanting what you get. So start now to want to be curmudgeonly and cranky, and you’ll probably achieve it. ;) That serenity and wisdom thing is really *hard*.

    And like Robert, I’ll pass up any kind of psychological study or literary “story” for time spent on L5 station or in transit to the Asteroid belt. I guess it all comes down to what kind of events you want to see your characters react to: Eternal cocktail parties or stepping disks on the Puppeteer homeworld.


    22 Aug 10 at 12:46 am

  6. The Secret of True Happiness is diminished expectations. Think about it.

    As for the permanently youthful, they may still work as role models if we discard them when they no longer fit. You have to gently transition from Spenser to Barnaby Jones.


    22 Aug 10 at 7:19 am

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