Agatha Raisin and the Quiche of Death.
By M. C Beaton
I think I am in love.
Agatha Raisin is my favorite character in, well, I don’t even know how long.
The title of the book was a good omen. Agatha Raisin and the Quiche of Death. Seemingly understated, but at the same time rather melodramatic. Such fun.
Agatha is a middle aged woman, who has just entered early retirement after selling her public relations firm. She has dedicated her life to her career, with the goal of retiring to a cottage in the Cotswolds. Her self-sufficiency, intense focus, and do-what-it-takes-even-if-it-is-abrasive-to-others attitude served her well in business. But she finds herself without any good friends, and difficulty making new ones in the typical small town of Carsely, where you are an ‘incomer’ even if you have been there for 20 years. She decides to enter a baking competition to fit in, but didn’t count on the judges favouritism to women who put out for him. Or on the judge dying after eating her quiche. She finds herself being both accepted by some of the town, and abused by others, in increasing measures. Will she stick it out, or high tail it back to London? Was the poisoning really an accident, or did someone kill the judge? And if so who?
So what is it about Agatha that I really love? I love that she isn’t overly lovable. She is grumpy, isolative, pushy, and unused to social niceties. (She does try though, and it is a little bit cute seeing her muddle her way through finding ways to connect and contribute. ) She is not particularly attractive. And while she didn’t have the best childhood or marriage, she is not a cute, little, pitiable damsel. I started to feel, and appreciate, the contrast between her and most other heroines as I read. In most romance novels, the girl is pretty, has a pleasant, nice personality, and has some sad or terrible thing in her life. And it is like these are the reasons for you to like her, and for the man to love her and look after her. She is allowed to be loved because she is pretty and nice. She is deserving of love, or should be loved, because of the bad things. But you know what, I would rather be Agatha. Women don’t need to be bland, sanitised, pretty and nice to have a place in the world. And we all deserve love.
I love that Agatha is real. She doesn’t white-wash herself. She is lonely. She doubts her life choices. She achieves a dream and feels empty after her happy ever after. She is determined one day, then thinking about giving up the next. She is a little self-conscious of her looks, but not enough to do any serious dieting or changes, but then again it was enough to be healthier and exercise more. While I like to think of myself as more socially adept than Agatha, I really relate to the description of her feelings of aimlessness and isolation when she moves to the new town. I think we all have times when we wonder what on earth we are doing.
Oh, and did you read the bit where she admits that she mainly reads books that are difficult and famous, so she can tell other people about it and have them be impressed? It amused me that she admits it, and makes me feel I need to tell you all that I truly believe I don’t fall into this category- I read similar books to her, but to educate myself- more so that I can impress myself than others.
Anyway, I thoroughly enjoyed the book, mainly because I am so happy that Agatha Raisin was given page space to be who she is. It is an easy read, that most people would be able to enjoy. I look forward to the rest of the series.