Title: Giant’s Bread
Author: Agatha Christie
Page Count: 440
This was described as a novel of romantic suspense and so I could be forgiven for not liking it, considering that romance isn’t really my thing. The good news is that this is an Agatha Christie novel, albeit one written under her pen-name of Mary Westmacott, and so I was always going to like it.
I was also lucky enough to have quite a nice little edition, and so the actual process of reading it was pretty pleasurable. But I also quite liked the subject matter, as well as the main characters in the story. We have a tomboy called Joe who hates being thought of as a tomboy and a dude called Vernon who discovered a knack for music after thinking that he hated it for most of his childhood.
Because it’s Christie, we have all of the usual themes here, such as the pressures that Joe’s facing from her family and society. She doesn’t want to get married and has visions of herself as a spinster, just following her own interests and pursuits. Her parents aren’t too keen to pay for her education but Vernon says that’s okay because he’s inheriting his father’s fortune once he turns 21. Then he turns 21 and discovers that it might not be quite that easy.
You’re not going to see any murders here, although I couldn’t help feeling as though I was waiting for one to happen just because the whole book has the same tone as the setup to one of her murder mysteries. Luckily, there’s a lot more here than just that, and whether you’re a seasoned Christie fan or just someone who likes the sound of the story line. It’s a well-written novel from a master at work, and it’s hard to go wrong with that.
Of course, if you’re looking for fast-paced plots then you might be out of luck here, but if you’re a character-driven reader then you’re in for a treat, especially because I found the main characters to be pretty likeable. They do have agency and help to drive a larger plot along, but what’s really interesting is the way that it almost doesn’t matter.
Then there’s the title, which is a reference to Jack and the Beanstalk, which helps to make this feel very Christie. She loved to quote nursery rhymes in her crime novels and so I guess we shouldn’t be surprised that she did it here too. It doesn’t really add all that much to the plot, but it’s an okay literary device.