Sunday, September 28, 2008

The Ngaio Marsh Challenge

Inspired by the recent Joanne Drayton biography, Ngaio Marsh: Her life in Crime, and crime fiction addict Kerrie over at Mysteries in Paradise and her Agatha Christie reading challenge, I have decided to do the patriotic thing and undertake a Ngaio Marsh challenge. That is to read all of her mystery novels in the order they were published - 32 in total, thank you very much.

I haven't given myself a deadline for this accomplishment - I've got more sense, but lets be realistic here, 32 books, amongst everything else I have to read and want to read, and writing the odd novel, I could be a while.

To make it all official like, I've played with photoshop and made a little Ngaio Marsh Challenge Logo, and I'll have a dedicated place to archive challenge posts in the left hand side of this blog.

Challenges are always far more fun if other people are mad enough to join you, so if there's anyone else out there who'd like to keep me company, let me know in the comments, I'd be thrilled to have some fellow Marshers.

One of the fun things about this is going to be tracking down the books in the second-hand shops, and displaying the covers of the edition I get. Some of the covers I have already are fabulous, and some ugh, so I'll post the good, the bad and the ugly.

These are the first 5 titles on the hit-list:

A Man Lay Dead (London 1934; New York 1942);

Enter A Murderer (London 1935; New York 1942);

The Nursing Home Murder with Henry Jellett (London 1935, New York, 1941);

Death in Ecstasy. (London: 1936; New York,1941);

Vintage Murder (London: 1937; New York, 1940);

I have already had a head start of one, as I read A Man Lay Dead in July, so it's straight on to number 2: Enter a Murderer.

So I shall report back with reviews of each book, and a picture of the cover, (and no doubt a comment on it, if it's really bad.) Any fellow challengers, feel free to add your reviews to the comments too - it will be good to see what others think.

Wish me luck!


Kerrie said...

Hello Vanda.
I may just take you up on this, although the Agatha Christie one is going to keep me busy.
I may cheat a little, I already have 3 Marsh's on my recent-reads database.
I also have dozens of other books I'm supposed to be reading :-(
You'll also be glad to know that I managed to order your 2 books through my local Angus & Robertson store, even to the point of being "responsible" for THE RINGMASTER being added to the store's catalogue.
Any way my local library has the first Marsh.

Fifi Colston said...

I have never read any Ngaio Marsh (shame shame) so may just have to take you up on it. I have a couple of books beside my bed that I can't concentrate on...I'm looking for something else. Off to Arty Bees bookshop tomorrow to have a fossick!
cheers Fifi

Anonymous said...

I have read every single Ngaio Marsh at least three times and love them all. I constantly re-read them as I adore the stylised writing and her gorgeous detective, Roderick Alleyn. I shall watch your comments with eager interest and thanks for mentioning the new biog I had no idea it had been published.

Vanda Symon said...

Thanks for the comments, folks.

Kerrie, I'd have thought you had quite enough to read!

Fifi, I am sooo jealous of you going to Arty Bees, I love fossicking there. I am amazed how few NZers have read Ngaio Marsh books. We'll make amends with this little crusade.

Brooksideelaine - it's so good to hear of someone who loves Ngaio's books. One of the inspirations for this challenge was hearing Kate Mosse, of Labyrinth fame, saying she loved Ngaio Marsh and had read them all.

Kerrie said...

I've made a start at last Vanda

Unknown said...

I've been collecting Ngaio Marsh & now am motivated to do the same. Thanks for the readerly push!

Tea said...

Silly me! I didn't know the author was a lady until now. I have one of her books. I would love to try and read all her mysteries.


Unknown said...

I think I have read them all anyway. I started back in the late 60s in England. In fact, I met and married my NZ husband in the UK and we had our first daughter there. We named her Ngaio - which was confusing to everyone we knew in London. Folk would try to pronounce it: Engayoh.
Anyway, what I would like to know is how the Dunedin Police have reacted to your books and their depictions of them!

Vanda Symon said...

Hi Lois. I've heard another Ngaio who had interesting pronunciation of her name by the Brits!

I'm surprised I have only had good comments from those in the Dunedin Police Station (they only come to me indirectly, though) No one has taken umbrage with my characterisation of a few of the Police. In fact one or two have said they thought I got the Police culture about right.

Jo said...

I'm a bit late with this, having just stumbled upon your site. Not only do I own every Marsh title in hardback, but I got them via secondhand book shops decades ago and have read them all -- as I found them, and then reread them in order. It's fun to see how Alleyn and Fox develop and the flippant character of Alleyn matures. I was the first visitor to her house/museum in Christchurch and I was contributing editor to the Ngaio Marsh Society International newsletter, so I harbor a huge love and respect for Ngaio. Or Dame Ngaio... Anyway, thanks for the blog. I'll try to read it more often.

Vanda Symon said...

Hi Jo,

Great to hear from you. I hope to soon start another blog, my Ngaio blog as I've just this year launched into a PhD studying the science in her works. that will keep me busy!