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  • Sue Hawley

"I belong to the world, Madame."

The 'little grey cells' is a famous phrase, at least to a large portion of avid mystery readers. Does it ring a bell? These words are uttered by Hercule Poirot in every book he starred in. I have many well-worn copies of Agatha Christie’s Poirot books as I’ve read them too many times to count; a couple actually have loose pages and require a rubber band around the book to hold it together. Her creation was a stroke of genius.

Poirot’s intellectual abilities were unmatched, a fact of which he was well aware. Often his quirks and intelligence set him apart from the people he worked with but they rarely prevented him from forming relationships with others. However, being a WWI Belgian refugee, Poirot was never going to truly be British or accepted fully into that society. This outsider status allowed us to see British life through the eyes of a foreigner. I had the sense Agatha Christie allowed his observations to subtly comment on behaviors of British culture. Despite his sometimes pointed observations, Poirot always held gratitude in his heart towards Britain.

Agatha Christie’s brilliant portrayal of Hercule Poirot brought his favorite phrase to life. Her description of him painted a precise picture for readers. Only 5’4”, he carried himself with a great deal of dignity. His egg shaped head, perfectly trimmed mustache, patent leather shoes and obsessive-compulsive tendencies allowed us to see him not only in our minds but our hearts. Several television shows have been made attempting to capture the blend of Christie’s writing—her ability to balance story, mystery, and eccentric main character.

In my opinion, David Suchet portrayed Poirot to perfection. Of the many actors to wear the perfect little moustache, Suchet had every mannerism, quirk, and walk down to a tee and matched my own mental picture of the famous Belgian detective. My husband and I will watch episodes we’ve seen numerous times simply because Suchet plays the part impeccably and brings the great detective to life. What a treat to watch him portray Poirot exactly as Christie wrote the man who depended on ‘his little grey cells’.

Having a character as vivid as Poirot can make a good story great. Combined with Christie's meticulous writing her Poirot books are more than just interesting diversions from our every day lives. They allow us to see the world from a different perspective and can make us ask questions we wouldn't have had before. I love how stories do this for us. Poirot will forever be one of my favorite characters, an old friend whose company I always enjoy.

#characters #novels #writing #favorites

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