You are now collecting your People delightfully, getting them exactly into such a spot as is the delight of my life;—3 or 4 Families in a Country Village is the very thing to work on.
—Jane Austen, in a letter to Anna Austen, 9-18 September 1814 to Anna Austen
“Well, my dear,” said Miss Marple, “human nature is much the same everywhere, and, of course, one has opportunities of observing it at closer quarters in a village.”
—Miss Marple, Agatha Christie’s The Thirteen Problems, “The Thumb Mark of St Peter”
“The country,” said Darcy, “can in general supply but few subjects for such a study. In a country neighbourhood you move in a very confined and unvarying society.”
“But people themselves alter so much, that there is something new to be observed in them for ever.”
—Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice, Chapter 9
“Really, I have no gifts—no gifts at all—except perhaps a certain knowledge of human nature.”
—Miss Marple, Agatha Christie’s A Murder is Announced
The writings of Jane Austen have been compared with those of many authors, spanning from the postwar austerity and minute observations of Barbara Pym to the Edwardian-Regency fusion of Georgette Heyer. But while Agatha Christie’s life couldn’t have been more different than Austen’s, as it featured many exciting and tumultuous (and highly public events) like her mysterious disappearance, ventures into archeology in foreign lands, and much broader literary output of 66 detective novels (as well as plays, short stories, romances, and an autobiography), one of Christie’s most famous detectives possesses many Austen-like characteristics. Jane Marple has done very little externally, other than live in a quiet village and observe human nature. She is a spinster, and yet she understands and contemplates the darkness of the human heart, and the baseness of its core motivations–sex and money. Could there be anything more Austen-esque than that?
“The more I see of the world, the more am I dissatisfied with it; and every day confirms my belief of the inconsistency of all human characters, and of the little dependence that can be placed on the appearance of merit or sense.”
—Elizabeth Bennet, Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice, Chapter 9
“The worst is so often true,” murmured Miss Marple.
—Agatha Christie’s They Do It With Mirrors
Although one’s literary output may be less, er, bloody than the other’s, ultimately both writers are moralists who believe in the value of good sense and emotional self-regulation.