Lagniappe 39: A Star Over Bethlehem

A Star Over Bethlehem
(listen or download from link above)
In which we hear a profound Christmas story from an unexpected source -- Agatha Christie!

Get the book here: A Star Over Bethlehem

According to Webster
la·gniappe \ˈlan-ˌyap, lan-ˈ\
Etymology: American French, from American Spanish la ñapa the lagniappe, from la + ñapa, yapa, from Quechua yapa something added
Date: 1844
: a small gift given a customer by a merchant at the time of a purchase;
broadly : something given or obtained gratuitously or by way of good measure


  1. This was a surprise. I had read some of what Christie wrote under the Mary Westmacott pseudonym, which left me under the impression that she rather scoffed at Christianity, and likely didn't understand it very well. (In the Westmacott stories, at least the ones I read, she often seemed to be aiming at pleasing or fitting in with the debauched artsy crowd. The usual moral compass wasn't much in evidence.) I never would have thought of checking out a Christmas-themed book that she'd written, under whatever name. I just checked a list of her works, and see that this came out nine years after the last of the Westmacott books. Maybe she moved in the right direction as she got older. :)

  2. I never read any of the Westmacott stories and, in fact, had forgotten they exist. Interesting about her changes in attitude from them to this. Thanks for that additional perspective! :-)

  3. Hercule Poirot's moral compass was never in doubt: "Me, I am a good Catholic" (when that could be said without sarcasm) and "I have a bourgeois attitude toward murder -- I disapprove of it."

    I gather that AC was an ordinary member of the Church of England when, that, too meant something.

  4. I've immensely enjoyed Agatha Christie's work and have the warmest memories of the period in which I was a compulsive reader of them.

    I too have never read any of the Westmacott titles, but I remember never having felt any animosity in her work towards Christianity in general or Catholicism in particular.

    If I remember correctly, her second husband, archeologist Max Mallowan, was a Catholic (even though his marriage with Agatha was probably canonically invalid).

    In her book They Came to Bagdhad, which I consider her best written one, even though it's not a mystery novel, she writes for her heroine a poignant monologue in the first person about her Christian belief.

    Also Agatha frequently explores favorably Hercule Poirot's Catholic status, such as in the novel Taken at the Flood, and the short stories The Apples of Hersperides and The Chocolate Box.

    I remember also having read that, well into her seventies, she started writing essays for the London Times, which I would love to read but have never found on the Internet.

  5. Am way behind on Genesis but am just downloading the Xmas stories to listen to today...

    But I really just wanted to wish you and your family the most wonderful and joyful holiday -- and thanks for being here for "us" all year!
    fondly, Maryjo


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