What is the connection between a failed suicide attempt, a wrongful accusation of theft against a schoolgirl, and the romantic life of a tennis player? To the casual observer, apparently nothing. When a houseparty gathers at Gull's Point, the seaside home of an elderly widow, earlier events come to a dramatic head.
Robert Graves, author of I Claudius, was a neighbour of Agatha Christie’s in Devon during the Second World War and the two became friends. Christie dedicated this book to Graves: “Dear Robert, Since you are kind enough to say you like my stories, I venture to dedicate this book to you. All I ask is that you sternly restrain your critical faculties (doubtless sharpened by your recent excesses in that line!) when reading it. This is a story for your pleasure and not a candidate for Mr Graves’ literary pillory!" The book was dramatised by Agatha Christie and Gerald Verner. It was adapted for TV in 2007 with Geraldine McEwan as Miss Marple.
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The story of Towards Zero came together quickly and clearly, as can be seen from Christie’s notebooks. Her notes are detailed and closely resemble the published version – she even drew a map of the coastline around Gull’s Point, which plays an important part in the story. Names and motivations underwent slight changes from the first notes, and almost at the point of publication, Christie reworked the ending to the one we are familiar with now, though unfortunately nothing of her ‘first’ ending survives.
Masthead Photography: Joan Hickson image © BBC
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