The rage for crime fiction today mysteriously includes a wide and enduring attraction to the few remaining wholly admirable role models still available to readers. The iconic Miss Marple, ‘faved’ by traditionalists and pop fans alike, deftly models her love of God and neighbor in concrete terms—and stands boldly for Truth and Good. This beloved, enigmatic, mild-mannered spinster champions the triumph of order over chaos in society, through her process of detection in which the solution rests in provable fact.
REVIEWS & ENDORSEMENTS
Books – Critical Studies and Guides
Anders, Isabel, Miss Marple: Christian Sleuth (Circle Books, 2013) [part literary analysis, part moral theology, Anders’ is an unusual, but often revealing look at the centrality of Christianity to Miss Marple’s character] ~ Dewi Evans, Ph.D., Cardiff University, http://stylesofdying.wordpress.com/agatha-christie-a-bibliography-of-secondary-criticisim/
There is no doubt that this book is thought provoking. It is also worth reading for some of the quotations from sources other than the Miss Marple stories. ~ Peter Godfrey, Faith and Freedom
Isabel Anders' Miss Marple: Christian Sleuth not only immerses us in village life in St. Mary Mead but takes us on a thrilling detective journey of our own. Under her skilled tutelage, Anders trains us to have an observant eye, to interpret the facts about Agatha Christie's unlikely sleuth—an elderly, unassuming "church lady" with a penchant for sitting, knitting and observing. We learn what it is to have a contemplative gaze, how to appreciate seeming "unknowing," how to recognize sanctity even when hidden under the unassuming guise of a spinster living in reduced circumstances. Weaving an interpretive tapestry of biblical and literary references, Anders establishes her Christian Sleuth as one of the great imitators of Christ; Miss Marple not only reads Thomas a Kempis but is also "a woman for others," unafraid to be her own authentic, compassionate self, no matter what the cost. As we decipher the evidence, we find ourselves examining clues from our own lives—do we measure up as Christian sleuths or do we merely knit without observing? ~ Elizabeth-Anne Stewart, Sunday Bible Talk
I didn't expect the book to be a deep devotional on living the Christian life, but it most certainly was. I read it alone. My loss. It would have been more valuable if I had read it in a group. Discussion would have increased the depth of the many and varied quotes, an expected feature of literary criticism. Anders' book encourages me to reread the mysteries and discover again the genius and Christian model that is Miss Marple. Marlene LeFever, Vice President of Educational Development, David C. Cook. ~ Marlene LeFever, http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/miss-marple-isabel-anders/1114269354?ean=9781780995434
In her new book, “Miss Marple: Christian Sleuth” (Circle Books/John Hunt Publishing, Ltd.), Sewanee author Isabel Anders describes the iconic elderly crime-solver of Agatha Christie’s novels as “a force to reckon with.”
Similar to C. S. Lewis’ central character Aslan in his Narnia series, who Lewis pointed out was not a “tame” lion, Miss Marple might seem to be genteel, soft-spoken, self-contained and a proper English gentlewoman. But as Christie’s stories about her so cunningly reveal, she is far from that. Indeed, as her housekeeper Cherry comments: “Anyone would think you were gentle as a lamb. But there’s times I could say you’d behave like a lion ..." if the circumstances called for it.
Anders encourages reading or rereading of the Marple/Christie oeuvre of 12 novels and 20 short stories, as she pinpoints instances of Miss Marple’s (and her creator’s) genius. In the process, Anders connects the dots to offer a full-blown portrait of this beloved but enigmatic character as an icon of balanced head and heart.
. ~ http://www.sewaneemessenger.com/resources/2013/1-25-13, Sewanee Mountain Messenger
This is a journey with a lovable character that will take readers of the Miss Marple series by surprise and provides an exploration into the Christian aspects of Christie’s work, delivered in nine discerning chapters. The book is complete with bibliography, notes, and study group discussion questions.
~ Diane Marquart Moore, http://revmoore.blogspot.com/
I always enjoy your writing and am so looking forward to receiving the book from Amazon. Amazon just sent an email that it will be released early – that has to be good!
~ Elaine Plummer on BlogHer.com, https://isabelanders.wordpress.com/2012/12/22/t-is-for-truth/
The books of Isabel Anders have been featured several times at Christian Literature at BellaOnline. Isabel's writing is motivational. While being uplifting, she sometimes draws on personal stories and reflections as in Soul Moments; others on tales of wisdom and virtue as in Becoming Flame.
With a keen eye and a quiet reflection, Isabel is superb at recognizing Christian virtue in places most of us fail to see. Case in point ... Isabel's book, Miss Marple: Christian Sleuth: The Woman for Others at The Heart of Agatha Christie's Classic Mystery Series. With a professed enjoyment for the series, Isabel writes that she began to notice Christian symbols and lessons in the episodes. This led to a closer examination that resulted in Miss Marple: Christian Sleuth, a book that presents lessons in virtuous living drawn from the famous British series of books, movies and television shows.
~ Lyn Sedmina, BellaOnline, http://www.bellaonline.com/articles/art54858.asp
Agatha Christie is probably my favorite cozy mystery author. And Miss Marple is my favorite of her characters. I strongly identify with her (though I am married with children and grandchildren -- I am not a spinster). Miss Marple is a realist and sees this wicked world for what it is; and also she has great compassion for the human condition. She has love in her heart.
Miss Marple said that she believes there is evil in this wicked world, she believes in eternal life, and she also believes in love. I love it! Miss Marple is a perfect example for us to follow. She has a strong sense of right and wrong and she will stand up for what is right!. She is a genuine heroine. We need her. Believing in eternal life, I want to thank you, Dame Agatha Christie for your dear Miss Marple! And thank you, Isabel Anders, for a shining your light upon “a woman for others.” I think the nonfiction book of Miss Marple Christian Sleuth is a beacon of light for Christian women and those who wish they were, just as is the fictional Miss Marple, herself. May we all learn and grow and do our best to walk in His light, to walk with our Blessed Lord Jesus, as did Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple.I just stumbled upon Miss Marple: Christian Sleuth and I am so grateful I did. God love you! ~ Amazon Reviewer
Isabel Anders’ Miss Marple: Christian Sleuth, not only immerses us in village life in St. Mary Mead but takes us on a thrilling detective journey of our own. Under her skilled tutelage, Anders trains us to have an observant eye, to interpret the facts about Agatha Christie’s unlikely sleuth—an elderly, unassuming “church lady” with a penchant for sitting, knitting and observing. We learn what it is to have a contemplative gaze, how to appreciate seeming “unknowing,” how to recognize sanctity even when hidden under the unassuming guise of a spinster living in reduced circumstances. Weaving an interpretive tapestry of biblical and literary references, Anders establishes her Christian Sleuth as one of the great imitators of Christ; Miss Marple not only reads Thomas a Kempis but is also “a woman for others,” unafraid to be her own authentic, compassionate self, no matter what the cost. As we decipher the evidence, we find ourselves examining clues from our own lives—do we measure up as Christian sleuths or do we merely knit without observing?
Elizabeth-Anne Stewart, D.Min.,Ph.D.
Author, Jesus the Holy Fool (Sheed & Ward, 1999) and other works.
~ Elizabeth-Anne Stewart, Sunday Bible Talk
I admit not being thrilled about the prospect of dragging myself to read a book about the bakers’ dozen confections that comprise the Miss Marple place on the shelf, because I had assumed the sole possible delight in going through them rested with solving the puzzles, and I only rarely like to dawdle by solving puzzles. Isabel Anders has convinced me I was quite wrong.
She has revealed a Christian dimension in Agatha Christie, the Miss Marple stories in particular, I had not previously suspected; the old lady detective emerges as a small village saint, made of stern stuff, replete with the holy armor of knitting needles and brains.
A literary critic really performs two genuine duties—to elucidate the subject for those who have read a work, or to tease the unprepared to enter into what is presented as an habitable world. I have just made arrangements for my local library to obtain a copy for me of The Murder at the Vicarage, the first Miss Marple novel, because Miss Anders has made it sound like instructive delight, to paraphrase Dr. Johnson.
She also provides questions and topics for group discussion (or private meditation). Remarkably these questions even further illustrate a subtle theological acumen in all three—the fiction writer, the fictional sleuth, and she who writes about them. That village snoop may well be the supreme character invented by the most popular author of the twentieth century. And without a guide as good as Isabel Anders, I might have missed out on the fun altogether.
As with every contribution to our understanding worthy of the name, we ask ourselves why we hadn’t thought of that before, in this case being aware that the Miss Marple books must be saying a great deal to large numbers of people, and that must be worthy at least of a reader’s consideration; and what we learn from Isabel Anders is the sheer goodness of Miss Marple and the books she inhabits.
Arthur P. Livingston
Gilbert Magazine, Outlining Sanity (American G. K. Chesterton Society magazine) ~ Arthur P. Livingston, Contributing Editor, Gilbert Magazine
“It’s just too difficult to imagine detective fiction without Jane Marple (black lace mittens, knitting needles and all) in its pantheon of greats.” —USA Today.
“Miss Marple is a kind of social conscience: ‘The detective story was ... very much a story with a moral ... the hunting down of Evil, and the triumph of Good.’” —Marion Shaw & Sabine Vanacker quoting Agatha Christie in Reflecting on Miss Marple.
“The Marple novels are the folktales of twentieth-century suburban life, and Miss Marple herself is the presiding genius, the good fairy, and guide ... ” —From Reflecting on Miss Marple. ~ quotes about Miss Marple