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PENGUIN READERS
Teacher Support Programme

LEVEL 4

The Mirror Crackd from Side to Side


Agatha Christie

the nearby Gossington Hall, now home to a well known


movie star, Marina Gregg. One of its previous owners
was Dolly Bantry, a friend of Miss Marple and a distant
acquaintance of Marina Gregg and a keen follower of her
in the press. She tells Miss Marple the actress has had five
husbands and had overcome a drug problem brought on
by her having a child who suffered brain damage. She also
tells her the actress is putting on a charitable fte in the
near future. Mrs Bantry is then invited to the Hall and
meets Marina Greggs husband, Jason Rudd, or Jinxs, and
his secretary Ella Zielinsky. Ella talks about a murder at
the hall in the past and mentions Marinas uncertain state
of mind.

About the author

Chapters 35: Mrs Bantry returns to Gossington Hall


to attend the fte. As Marina and her husband are
welcoming people on the stairs and Marina is listening
to Mrs Badcock, she notices a terrible expression come
over Marinas face as she stares at some point on the wall
opposite. A short time later, Mrs Badcock is found dead
in a chair. Later, Miss Marple and Mrs Bantry discuss
the death. Mrs Bantry recounts how Marinas horrified
expression had reminded her of a poem about a woman
realizing she had been cursed. An inquest is held and
a verdict of death by overdose of the drug Calmo is
reached. Afterwards, Detective-Inspector Cornish drives
Arthur Badcock home because he wants to ask him some
questions. Arthur tells the policeman that at the fte, his
wife had spilt her cocktail and that Marina had given
her her drink. Chief Inspector Craddock is told by Miss
Marple, an old friend of his, to go and see Mrs Bantry. She
repeats the story of the fateful night, adding that Marina
seemed to be looking at a picture when her face changed.
The two policemen go to the Hall and ask to see Marina
but are told she is too unwell to receive anyone. They
talk to Dr Gilchrist, who admits that nearly everyone in
the household takes Calmo, and that Marina thought the
poisoned cocktail was meant for her. They then talk to
Marinas husband. He realises that the drug was meant
for his wife and then goes on to tell them the sad story of
Marinas life, her adopted children, her mentally impaired
son and her depression.

Agatha Christie was born in 1890 in Devon, England.


She was the youngest child of an American father and an
English mother. She never attended school because her
mother disapproved of it, and she was educated at home
in a house full of books. As a young woman, Agatha was
described as tall with reddish-gold hair, fun and bright
company, although shy at times. She married Lieutenant
Archibald Christie in 1914 and in 1919, gave birth to
her only child, Rosalind. They divorced in 1928. Two
years earlier, following the death of her mother, Agatha
had completely disappeared for ten days, adding real-life
mystery to fact. She married again in 1930. She had a
phenomenal literary career as a writer of crime stories. She
published 66 novels, 154 short stories and 20 plays. Her
book sales are only surpassed by the Bible and the works of
Shakespeare. In 1971, she was awarded Englands highest
honour, the Order of the British Empire. She died in
January, 1976, and is buried in the churchyard in Cholsey,
Oxfordshire, near where she lived.

Summary
Chapters 12: Miss Marple, an elderly lady, lives in the
ever changing village of St Mary Mead in the South of
England. Near the village is a housing estate called the
Development, the inhabitants of which are very different
from the people Miss Marple is accustomed to meeting.
One day she sends Miss Knight, her over fussy carer, on a
shopping trip and goes to visit the Development. She falls
down in the street outside Heather and Arthur Badcocks
house and is taken in for a cup of tea. They are excited
to learn that she is the famous Miss Marple, the murder
solver, who had been involved in solving a murder at

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Chapters 68: Miss Marple asks Inspector Craddock if


he knows anything about Marinas two adopted sons and
one adopted daughter. He says he will investigate and they
go on to discuss the possible suspects: Jason Rudd, Ella
Zelinsky, who Miss Marple believes is in love with Jason,

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Teachers notes

PENGUIN READERS
Teacher Support Programme

LEVEL 4

The Mirror Crackd from Side to Side


a photographer from London, a woman (Lola Brewster)
whose husband left her to marry Marina and a famous
film director called Ardwyck Fenn. The two policemen
return to the Hall to talk to Marina. She tells them about
a series of threatening notes she has received but insists she
cant guess who is trying to kill her. Inspector Craddock
travels to London to interview Lola Brewster, Ardwyk
Fenn and the photographer, Margot Bence. Brewster and
Fenn can tell him nothing, but Margot Bence shows him
a photo she had taken of Marinas face the very moment
that strange expression had come over it. Something
she says prompts Craddock to say he believes she is the
adopted daughter of Marina. She admits it but adds she
has no desire to kill Marina. Cherrys friend Gladys tells
her that Marina had suspected something was wrong with
a cup of coffee the previous day, and her husband had
thrown it away. She also remembers something curious
about Mrs Badcock; she believes Mrs Badcock deliberately
spilt her cocktail on her dress. After making a blackmail
call to someone, Ella returns home and takes her medicine
for hay fever. It is poison. Investigating her murder,
the police are informed by Ardwyck Fenn that he had
received a blackmail call from a sneezing woman who he
is convinced was Ella. Then the Italian butler, Giuseppe is
shot dead when he returns from a visit to London.
Chapters 910: Craddock and Miss Marple discuss the
differing witness reports submitted by people at the fte
as to what illness Heather Badcock had told Marina she
had suffered from many years ago when she met her in
Bermuda. The vicar confirms that Heather mentioned
German measles to Marina. She goes to the Hall and is
told that Marina has died from a drug overdose. She then
explains the mystery. Marina had contracted German
measles, and this had resulted in her son being born with
brain damage. When she saw the image of the smiling
baby in the picture, at the same time as being told by
Heather about the disease, she had at that moment
decided to kill Heather. She deliberately spilt Heathers
drink and gave her her own drink, which contained the
overdose. She wrote threatening notes to herself to give
the impression she was the intended victim, and when
blackmailers began demanding money, she killed them.
She looks at the dead womans body for the last time, and
hints to Jason that she suspects he had given his wife an
overdose to end her sad life. He doesnt deny this.

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Background and themes


Rural England: A lot of Agatha Christies novels are set
in small villages and feature middle class people with dark
secrets. In this novel she makes a change to the old scene
by introducing the Development, inhabited by people
outwardly very different from Miss Marple.
Multiple suspects: As normal in Christie novels, nearly
every character has a motive to commit murder, from
Ellas love of Jason and hatred of his wife to Margots
implied anger of being abandoned by her adoptive
mother.
Haunted by the past: Marina has a terribly sad past
with failed marriages and drug problems, but it is the
condition of her son she most laments, and this leads her
to murder when she identifies Heather as the cause of his
condition.

Discussion activities
Chapters 12
While reading (p. 7, after She hasnt been a star for
quite a long time.)
1 Discuss: Put the students into groups and ask them
to discuss the following questions about films and
film stars: How often do you go to the cinema/watch a
DVD? What is one of your favourite films and what is
it about? What type of films do you like? Who is your
favourite actor/actress and why? Do you think special
effects improve films or make them worse?

After reading
2 Game: Put the students in pairs and tell them
there are fifteen words in Chapter 2 that can be
found in a house. Tell them they have to find the
words as quickly as possible; the fastest pair is the
winner.

Chapters 35
While reading (p. 21, after Its sold in the UK under
the name of Calmo, said the Inspector.)
3 Discuss: Remind the students that Calmo is a type
of medicine. Put them in small groups to discuss the
following questions: Do you think that some medicines
dont work and they are only to make money for the
companies that make them? What do you think about
the new, natural medicines? How often do you take
medicine? Do you think all medicines should be free?
Do you think that in the future medicine will be able to
cure all illnesses?

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Teachers notes

PENGUIN READERS
Teacher Support Programme

LEVEL 4

The Mirror Crackd from Side to Side


After reading

After reading

4 Role play: Tell the students to imagine that Chief


Inspector Craddock had been able to talk to Marina
Gregg. Put them in pairs and ask them to act out a
conversation between the two people. Craddock asks
a lot of questions and Marina tries to answer them.
See Discussion activities key for an example start to
the conversation.
5 Write and guess: On the board, write Hailey Preston
had short hair. Elicit which word is wrong from the
students (long not short). Now students choose a
sentence from Chapters 35 and rewrite it changing
one word. Students move around the classroom
reading out their sentences and the other students
have to identify and correct the mistake.
6 Pair work: Write the following words on the board:
make-up, songs, gate, six, cottage, camera, bottles, three.
Ask the students to talk and write in pairs to say how
these words were used in Chapters 35.

11 Write and guess: Put students in pairs and ask them


to choose a short paragraph from Chapters 68. Tell
then to write it again, making five changes to words
in the text. Students then read out their paragraphs to
the other students, who have to identify the mistakes.
12 Write and say: Put the students in pairs and tell
them they are two television reporters covering the
story of the murders at the Hall. Tell them to write a
sensational news story and then to deliver it in the
form of a TV news show, with each student taking
turns to talk about different aspects of the murders.

Chapters 68
While reading (p. 34, after Two boys, I think, and a
girl.)
7 Discuss: Put the students into groups and ask them
to discuss the following questions about adoption:
Do people often adopt children in your country? Would
you ever adopt a child? Would you adopt a child from
another country? Is it better to adopt a baby or an older
child? Should you tell a child that they have been
adopted and if yes, when?
8 Predict: (p. 41, at the beginning of Chapter 7)
Put the students in pairs and ask them to predict the
answer to the following possibilities: Margot Bence is
in love with Marinas husband/is the adopted daughter of
Marina. Margot gives the policeman a photo of Marina/a
description of the murderer. Ella Zielinsky dies in a car
accident/is poisoned. Giuseppe tells the police he killed
Mrs Badcock/is shot.
9 Game: (p. 43, after Hes a film director-and works in
TV too.) Put the students in groups of four and tell
them they are going to play the twenty questions
game. Student A thinks of a profession in English.
The other students have to guess the profession by
asking questions. Student A can only reply yes, no
or sometimes. If the others can guess the profession
in less than twenty questions, they win. See
Discussion activities key for example questions.
10 Write and discuss: (p. 51, after And blackmail can
be a dangerous game.) Put the students in small
groups and ask each group to write a list of all the
words in English they know that are names of crimes.
Put their suggestions on the board and add some of
your own. Then ask them to discuss how many years
in prison a person should get if convicted of one of
the crimes.

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Chapters 910
While reading (p. 58, after Its very amusing to hear
what kind of literature youve been studying, he said.)
13 Discuss: Put the students in small groups to discuss
the following questions: Do you like reading books?
What type of books do you like? What is one of your
favourite books? What do you think of the films youve
seen that have been made from a books youve read?
Do you prefer to read e-books or normal books?
14 Role play: (p. 61, after Please, she said, if youd
like to go ) Put the students in pairs and ask them
to act out a conversation between Miss Knight and
Miss Marple. Miss Knight is insistent she wants to
stay and Miss Marple tries to convince her she will be
fine without her. See Discussion activities key for an
example start to the conversation.

After reading
15 Quote Quiz: Put the students in groups of three or
four and tell them to write a list of all the characters
in the book. Then tell them they are going to hear a
list of quotes from the book and they have to write
down the name of the person who said each quote.
Then read out the following:
a I really dont like to tell you about it, dear. It might
shock you.
b So I got up and put on a lot of make-up and went
to the party.
c I had another message on the day of the fte.
d The secretary woman was making a phone call
from the public phone box in the road.
e I think, Miss Bence, that you could tell me a little
more.
f But I kept a little back and I took it to be
examined.
g You cannot recognise a whisper, but the person
sneezed before ending the call.
h I gave her some money and told her to take a
holiday.
i Last night she complained that we had our music
on too loud.
j His wife died last night in her sleep.

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