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3.9 out of 5 stars
Elephants Can Remember
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36 of 39 people found the following review helpful
on 7 October 2006
I first must say that as I write this review I have only read five Christie books. Those were 'The Murder of Roger Ackroyd', 'The ABC Murders', 'One, Two, Buckle my shoe', 'After the Funeral' and 'Elephants Can Remember'. I must say firstly how much I have enjoyed reading these five books and how much I look forward to reading a sixth.

Elephants can remember has to be appreciated by all due to the age of the author at this point. I must say, that for all of the ideas Christie has put to paper, she still has some good ones even after almost eighty books.

Poirot is indeed and interesting and enjoyable character but I think that this is a book that belongs the Mrs. Oliver. She is another great detctive idea- not quite Japp or Hastings- but still good.

Elephants is all about remembering and I must say that it is pulled off well here. Despite his age, Poirot is charming right to the end of the series and here he continues in this trend.

All in all, I enjoyed Elephants very much. Christie seems to get all the details and always has a great twish in there somewhere. Elephants isn't quite The ABC Murders, but like all of the five, its still absolutely brilliant. As I write this, the book is currently only three stars. Thats just far to underated!

Finally, you can't fail to admire the closing line in the novel made by Mrs. Oliver.

Great stuff as always!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
TOP 500 REVIEWERon 25 October 2014
'Elephants Can Remember' was published in 1972 and features Hercule Poirot and Ariadne Oliver. It is the final Christie's novel to feature either of them, although 'Curtain: Poirot's Last Case', written in 1942, was published after it. Ariadne Oliver is godmother to Celia Ravenscroft, since her mother and Ariadne were at school together. At a literary lunch, Mrs Burton-Cox approaches Ariadne. Her son is engaged to Celia and she has profound concerns about this because Celia's parents are dead and she wants to know which of them was the murderer and which the murder victim.
Ten years earlier, the bodies of General Alistair Ravenscroft and his wife Margaret were found shot dead near their manor house in Overcliffe; it is uncertain whether this was a double suicide. Ariadne Oliver discusses the request with Celia then invites her friend Hercule Poirot to investigate. They interview elderly witnesses who, they hope, will have long memories, as elephants are said to do. The remembrances of each are vey different but two facts emerge. Margaret Ravenscroft had four wigs and a few days before her death, she was bitten by the family dog...
Agatha Christie was pretty old when she wrote this book and it has the meandering quality of her final books, with a bit of muddle, such as how long ago the murder took place and how old the General was when he fell in love. It is very well-plotted, however, and the lovable eccentricity of Ariadne Oliver overshadows the rest of the book delightfully. Some say that Christie had lost her grip by this time, but I think that is unfair. She was less concise and philosophised more, but plotted as well as ever and wrote shrewdly-devised characters.
Ariadne Oliver is a wonderful creation. In 1956, John Bull Magazine interviewed Christie. She said, "I never take my stories from real life, but the character of Ariadne Oliver does have a strong dash of myself." Like Agatha Christie, Mrs Oliver sometimes wrote in a large old-fashioned bath, eating apples and depositing the cores on the wide mahogany surround, according to that interview. She assisted Poirot on a few of his cases because of her understanding of the criminal mind, something which Christie seems to have felt she was good at. Ariadne depended, too, on her "feminine intuition", usually resulting in mistakes; I find it intriguing to wonder whether Agatha Christie did the same. Certainly, Mrs Oliver lamented ever having invented her detective hero, Sven Hjerson, since her knowledge of Finland was weak; Christie was often equally frustrated with Poirot, her famous detective, and with her own mistakes. It is amusing to read this self-portrait and to speculate on Agatha Christie's own character. Certainly, she proves herself to have had a sense of humour with this gently comic invention.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
I enjoyed reading a Poirot that hasn't been filmed yet, though I still saw David Suchet and Zoe Wannamaker in my imagination. This is an excelent Agatha Christie, full of twists and turns.
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'Elephants Can Remember' was published in 1972 and features Hercule Poirot and Ariadne Oliver. It is the final Christie's novel to feature either of them, although 'Curtain: Poirot's Last Case', written in 1942, was published after it. Ariadne Oliver is godmother to Celia Ravenscroft, since her mother and Ariadne were at school together. At a literary lunch, Mrs Burton-Cox approaches Ariadne. Her son is engaged to Celia and she has profound concerns about this because Celia's parents are dead and she wants to know which of them was the murderer and which the murder victim.
Ten years earlier, the bodies of General Alistair Ravenscroft and his wife Margaret were found shot dead near their manor house in Overcliffe; it is uncertain whether this was a double suicide. Ariadne Oliver discusses the request with Celia then invites her friend Hercule Poirot to investigate. They interview elderly witnesses who, they hope, will have long memories, as elephants are said to do. The remembrances of each are vey different but two facts emerge. Margaret Ravenscroft had four wigs and a few days before her death, she was bitten by the family dog...
Agatha Christie was pretty old when she wrote this book and it has the meandering quality of her final books, with a bit of muddle, such as how long ago the murder took place and how old the General was when he fell in love. It is very well-plotted, however, and the lovable eccentricity of Ariadne Oliver overshadows the rest of the book delightfully. Some say that Christie had lost her grip by this time, but I think that is unfair. She was less concise and philosophised more, but plotted as well as ever and wrote shrewdly-devised characters.
Ariadne Oliver is a wonderful creation. In 1956, John Bull Magazine interviewed Christie. She said, "I never take my stories from real life, but the character of Ariadne Oliver does have a strong dash of myself." Like Agatha Christie, Mrs Oliver sometimes wrote in a large old-fashioned bath, eating apples and depositing the cores on the wide mahogany surround, according to that interview. She assisted Poirot on a few of his cases because of her understanding of the criminal mind, something which Christie seems to have felt she was good at. Ariadne depended, too, on her "feminine intuition", usually resulting in mistakes; I find it intriguing to wonder whether Agatha Christie did the same. Certainly, Mrs Oliver lamented ever having invented her detective hero, Sven Hjerson, since her knowledge of Finland was weak; Christie was often equally frustrated with Poirot, her famous detective, and with her own mistakes. It is amusing to read this self-portrait and to speculate on Agatha Christie's own character. Certainly, she proves herself to have had a sense of humour with this gently comic invention.
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on 26 May 2012
This is one of Christie's better efforts in terms of characterisation and plot development. As with all studies of a crime that occurred long ago, pace is necessarily sacrificed in the pursuit of information. Christie compensates for this by giving a very limited number of possibilities and introducing a lot of highly entertaining dialogue into the gradual development of the solution. Because of these factors, the rules of the puzzle are not typical Christie. Gone are the hundreds of suspects in an obvious case of murder, allowing you to play the guessing game if you are too idle to try and work it out. With this novel, you have to work out if there has been a crime and then, I suggest, use the slow pace to try and work out every aspect of the solution. Guessing is easy in this case, but will only give you part of the puzzle - even if you guess right - so what's the point? The two clues that Poirot bangs on about are all you need to work out everything by about three-quarters of the way through the book. Ellery Queen would have put in a challenge to the reader there. Then you can have the very great satisfaction of smugly nodding your way, in great detail, through Poirot's explanation.

WARNING Possible spoiler: Readers under 40 might find the behaviour of one of the characters, as described in the solution, utterly unbelievable. I would ask them to think that when the incident occurred, people were very different - more sure of what was right and wrong and, therefore, more able to decide and do what was "honourable". I hasten to add that this does not make them "better" than more recent generations, they just had a more simple outlook that made these decisions easier. Personally, I think a little uncertainty is a good thing; it makes you less likely to make mistakes!
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on 17 August 2009
I have read a handful of Agatha Christie novels and watched many more on television and therefore feel I know a little of how these books work, what they are about, their structure.

My favourite ones have been where a murder has happened in a big house and Poirot/Miss Marple solve the case. Elephants Can Remember wasn't like that. It was about Poirot solving a mystery from years ago - a strange case where a married couple, for unknown reasons, went for a walk along the cliff top and committed suicide. Or at least - this is what people think. Can Poirot really get to the truth?

Of course he can. What a rubbish book if he couldn't! I enjoyed this book in the same way I enjoy all Agatha Christie novels. They are short, easy to read novels. You are in competition with Agatha Christie to solve the murder before the final denoument.

There were things I disliked in the book. It took a while to get the story started, there were a lot of talking about possible things that happened and rumours (led by Ariadne Oliver) which really didn't add much to the plot of the story.

Over all I did enjoy this book however I would recommend reading many other of her novels before venturing onto this one.
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I am enjoying reading this book, perhaps now with greater appreciation than I did many years ago when I read it for the first time and found it disappointing. Now that I am older I have a greater understanding of the human frailties featured in this story, that then only irritated me. So I would say, give this lovely gentle and thoughtful book a chance if you usually prefer the more dramatic works by Christie.
That said, i have only awarded three stars because of this very disappointing Kindle version - the formatting is absolutely atrocious and this version is riddled with mistakes which detract greatly from the clarity and the enjoyment of the text. I am a writer myself, hoping to be even half as successful as Dame Agatha, and I would not dream of releasing a version of this book so badly flawed.
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on 19 January 2006
Poirot is a fantastic character and through his adventures Agatha Christie has transported millions of readers into a world of mystery and intrigue. However, in 'Elephants Can Remember' we are less transported and more dragged along on a whimsical trip down memory lane.
After being informed of a 12 year old double suicide by an old friend Poirot decides to discover what really happened on that cliff so many years ago. As the evidence is not new enough Poirot uses a tactic different from most of his books and that is to interview those that may have known the people all those years ago. From the evidence gathered he has to determine whose memories are nearest and what really happened.
Poirot is not in large sections of this book so it lacks the humour of his earlier books. Also it seems to lack direction and coherence that a more a traditional story would have.
One for Agatha Christie completeists and not to be used as an introduction to her books.
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
For the third time in Poirot's career, and this time with the help of Mrs Oliver, he finds himself dealing with a case that has happened many years ago. In this case the deaths of a retired general and his wife who seem to have died in a strange suicide pact - only there was no reason for it.
This was the last Poirot novel Agatha Christie wrote, since "Curtain" been written many years before. And it feels like an eulogy to memory and to things past. It's not her best novel or even one which surprised me, since I guessed what had happened (and felt really happy because of it). But nevertheless is quite a good read, and I am sure other people will enjoy it as well.
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on 9 July 2013
The storyline was well presented in the Agatha Christie style but lacked impetus or true meaning as it was set in more modern times than Poirot is accustomed to and for me this spoiled the overall effect of Poirot as set in my minds eye.
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