Dust-jacket illustration of the first UK edition
|Cover artist||Kenneth Farnhill|
|Publisher||Collins Crime Club|
|30 October 1967|
|Media type||Print (hardback & paperback)|
|Pages||224 pp (first edition, hardcover)|
|Preceded by||Third Girl|
|Followed by||By the Pricking of My Thumbs|
Endless Night is a crime fiction novel by Agatha Christie, first published in the UK by the Collins Crime Club on 30 October 1967 and in the US by Dodd, Mead and Company the following year. The UK edition retailed at eighteen shillings (18/-) and the US edition at $4.95. It was one of her favourites of her own works and received some of the warmest critical notices of her career upon publication.
- 1 Explanation of the novel's title
- 2 Plot summary
- 3 Literary significance and reception
- 4 References to other works
- 5 Film, TV or theatrical adaptations
- 6 Publication history
- 7 International titles
- 8 References
- 9 External links
Explanation of the novel's title
- Every night and every morn,
- Some to misery are born,
- Every morn and every night,
- Some are born to sweet delight.
- Some are born to sweet delight,
- Some are born to endless night.
Michael Rogers, a footloose, seemingly nonchalant, working-class dabbler, narrates the story. He has a close relationship with his friend, Rudolf Santonix, a famous architect with an interest in one day building a house for Michael. While walking along a village road, Michael meets Fenella "Ellie" Guteman, the daughter of an extremely wealthy deceased American businessman, who yearns for a life outside of her judgmental and pompous inner circle of relatives and advisers. Ellie and Michael fall in love with each other, and they decide to marry.
Excited by the prospect of their new life, Ellie is able to fund the building of Gipsy's Acre, their new modern home by the sea. Michael requests Santonix to build the house, to which he agrees. The couple come across locals, such as Major Phillpot, the village "God," Victoria Hardcastle, a woman who shares Ellie's love of horse riding, and Miss Esther Lee, an elderly gypsy who tells Ellie to leave the village, or fate will curse her. Matters are made worse when Ellie's attractive secretary/companion Greta Anderson, is invited to stay at the house, only to be vigorously disliked by Michael who gets into a heated argument with her.
Ellie begins to become more suspicious of the dangers of Gipsy's Acre, and becomes more frightened of Miss Lee's increasing hostility towards her. Then, having been missed for several hours after embarking on a routine morning horse ride, Ellie's dead body is found in the woods. It is thought that a combination of a heart condition and a sudden problem with the horse are to blame. A now melancholy Michael has to travel to America in order to receive the inheritance of Ellie's will, which she bequeathed to him. While in America, Michael receives a letter from the village, which tells him that the bodies of Miss Lee and Victoria Hardcastle had been discovered, suggesting that Ellie's death was not an accident.
Upon returning to the village, the true nature of Michael's intent is revealed: He had met Greta Anderson in Germany before meeting Ellie and they had instantly fallen in love. Greedy for the good life, they devised a plan in which Michael would marry Ellie in order to gain her inheritance, then murder her and proceed to marry Greta.
Michael murdered Ellie by poisoning the allergy capsule she took before riding her horse. The slow-acting cyanide killed her during the ride. Having paid Miss Lee to frighten Ellie in order to throw suspicion on the old gypsy, Michael eliminated her as a witness by pushing her into a quarry. The death of Victoria was an accident; she had borrowed Ellie's allergy medicine in order to ride her horse, and so had died in the same way. Even as Michael and Greta celebrate their triumph, Michael begins to break down in remorse and revulsion. He tells Greta of his vision of Ellie while on the road to Gipsy's Acre. Infuriated when Greta scolds him for his sudden weakness, he is further enraged by the prospect of now living with Greta and without Ellie. He viciously strangles Greta to death. At the end of the novel, Michael meekly awaits his fate as villagers discover Greta's murder and local officials investigate in his home.
Literary significance and reception
The novel is dedicated: "whom I first heard the legend of Gipsy's Acre." Nora Prichard was the paternal grandmother of Mathew, Christie's only grandson. Gipsy's Acre was a field located on a Welsh moorland. The Times Literary Supplement of 16 November 1967 said, "It really is bold of Agatha Christie to write in the persona of a working-class boy who marries a poor little rich girl, but in a pleasantly gothic story of gypsy warnings she brings it all off, together with a nicely melodramatic final twist."
The Guardian carried a laudatory review in its issue of 10 November 1967 by Francis Iles (Anthony Berkeley Cox) who said, "The old maestrina of the crime-novel (or whatever is the female of 'maestro') pulls yet another out of her inexhaustible bag with Endless Night, quite different in tone from her usual work. It is impossible to say much about the story without giving away vital secrets: sufficient to warn the reader that if he should think this is a romance he couldn't be more mistaken, and the crashing, not to say horrific suspense at the end is perhaps the most devastating that this surpriseful author has ever brought off."
Maurice Richardson in The Observer of 5 November 1967 began, "She changes her style again and makes a determined and quite suspenseful attempt to be with it." He finished, "I shan't give away who murders whom, but the suspense is kept up all the way and Miss Christie's new demi-tough, streamlined style really does come off. She'll be wearing black leather pants next, if she isn't already." The poet and novelist Stevie Smith chose the novel as one of her Books of the Year in the same newspaper's issue of 10 December 1967 when she said, "I mostly read Agatha Christie this year (and every year). I wish I could write more about what she does for one in the way of lifting the weight, and so on."
Robert Barnard: "The best of the late Christies, the plot a combination of patterns used in Ackroyd and Nile (note similarities in treatment of heiress/heroine's American lawyers in Nile and here, suggesting she had been rereading). The murder occurs very late, and thus the central section seems desultory, even novelettish (poor little rich girl, gypsy's curse, etc.). But all is justified by the conclusion. A splendid late flowering."
References to other works
While the novel uses elements of the supernatural that feature rarely in Christie (By The Pricking of My Thumbs being a noticeable example), the novel's denouement is similar to that of The Murder of Roger Ackroyd in that Michael is revealed to be a twisted, mentally unstable man who is also the murderer. The plot also uses some elements similar to those of the Miss Marple story, The Case of the Caretaker from Miss Marple's Final Cases (1979).
Film, TV or theatrical adaptations
Endless Night (1972 Film)
Main article: 'Endless Night'
A 1972 film was made, starring Hayley Mills, Britt Ekland, Per Oscarsson, Hywel Bennett and George Sanders (who committed suicide before the film's release). Christie reportedly had some reservations about the use of sex scenes to enliven the plot.
Saturday Theatre (BBC Radio 4)
Endless Night was presented as a one-hour radio play in the Saturday Theatre strand on BBC Radio 4 on 30 August 2008 at 2.30pm. The play's recording took place at Broadcasting House and had an original score composed by Nicolai Abrahamsen.
Adaptor: Joy Wilkinson
Producer/Director: Sam Hoyle
Jonathan Forbes as Mike
Lizzy Watts as Ellie
Sara Stewart as Greta
Joan Walker as Cora/Mike's Mother
Victoria Lennox as Mrs Lee
Chris Pavlo as Mr Constantine/Auctioneer/Policeman/Assistant
John Rowe as Philpott/Lippincott
Joseph Tremain as Young Mike/Army Boy
Dan Starkey as Santonix/Frank
Thomas Brown-Lowe as Oscar
Graphic novel adaptation
Agatha Christie's Marple adaptation
Although the book did not feature Miss Marple, it is part of the sixth series of Agatha Christie's Marple, starring Julia McKenzie. It aired first on Argentina's Film&Arts on Wednesday 20th November, Australia's ABC on Sunday 22nd December 2013, and aired on ITV on Sunday 29th December 2013. This adaptation by Kevin Elyot remains quite faithful to the book, other than the addition of Miss Marple, until the end.
- 1967, Collins Crime Club (London), 30 October 1967, Hardcover, 224 pp
- 1968, Dodd Mead and Company (New York), 1968, Hardcover, 248 pp
- 1969, Pocket Books (New York), Paperback, 181 pp
- 1970, Fontana Books (Imprint of HarperCollins), Paperback, 192 pp
- 1972, Ulverscroft Large-print Edition, Hardcover, 342 pp, ISBN 0-85456-115-3
- 2011, HarperCollins; Facsimile edition, Hardcover: 224 pages, ISBN 978-0-00-739570-5
In the US, the novel was first serialised in two parts in The Saturday Evening Post from 24 February (Volume 241, Number 4) to 9 March 1968 (Volume 241, Number 5) with illustrations by Tom Adams.
- Czech: Nekonečná noc (Endless Night)
- German: Mord nach Mass (Murder made to measure)
- Hungarian: Örök éj (Night for Ever) | Végtelen éjszaka (Endless Night)
- Indonesian: Malam Tanpa Akhir (Endless Night)
- Italian: Nella mia fine è il mio principio (In my end is my beginning)
- Norwegian: Evig natt (Endless Night)
- Polish: Noc i ciemność (Night and Darkness)
- Portuguese: Noite Sem Fim (Endless Night)
- Spanish: Noche eterna (Endless Night)
- French: La Nuit qui ne finit pas (The Endless Night)
- The Observer, 29 October 1927 (p. 26)
- John Cooper and B.A. Pyke. Detective Fiction – the collector's guide: Second Edition (pp. 82, 87) Scholar Press. 1994; ISBN 0-85967-991-8
- American Tribute to Agatha Christie
- Chris Peers, Ralph Spurrier and Jamie Sturgeon. Collins Crime Club – A checklist of First Editions. Dragonby Press (Second Edition) March 1999 (Page 15)
- The Times Literary Supplement 16 November 1967 (p. 1092)
- The Guardian. 10 November 1967 (p. 7).
- The Observer 5 November 1967 (p. 27)
- The Observer, 10 December 1967 (p. 9)
- Barnard, Robert. A Talent to Deceive – an appreciation of Agatha Christie – Revised edition (p. 193). Fontana Books, 1990; ISBN 0-00-637474-3
- Endless Night at the official Agatha Christie website
- Endless Night (1972) at the Internet Movie Database