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The Agony Column Paperback – March 9, 2013


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Paperback, March 9, 2013
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 66 pages
  • Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (March 9, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1466264705
  • ISBN-13: 978-1466264700
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 0.2 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,898,549 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By F. Orion Pozo on May 28, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Between 1925 and 1932, Earl Derr Biggers wrote six novels about Charley Chan, a fictional Chinese detective, who was to become a pop culture icon through his representation in Hollywood movies. This novel, The Agony Column, was written by him ten years before his first Charley Chan novel. It might be considered a romance and it might be considered a mystery. It tells the story of a young couple falling in love, but it also contains the tale of a most mysterious murder.
The time is July 1914 and the setting is London. Rumors of a European war are in the press, but the two main characters are Americans who both enjoy reading in the newspaper the Personal Notices, popularly known as The Agony Column. In it are published the personal messages of otherwise reserved British urbanites.
As the novel begins Geoffrey West is having his breakfast in a restaurant and reading the Agony Column when he sees a beautiful young woman enter with her father. He is immediately attracted to her and notices that she too carries the Agony Column in her hand. The waiter seats the young lady and her escort at the table next to West and he hears her express her enjoyment of the ads in the personals. His breakfast over, West leaves the restaurant but can't get this young woman out of his mind. How can he meet her? He doesn't even know who she is. Then it hits him. He writes to her in the Personal Notices. In her reply she asks that he write seven letters to her in seven days to prove he is an interesting person and tells him how to post them. His first letter is innocent enough, but then the mystery begins. Murder and political intrigue are detailed in the letters of a man smitten by love. The two questions of "who done it?" and "will the boy get the girl?" drive the plot along.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Gary F. Taylor HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on September 23, 2004
Format: Paperback
Best known for the influential (if now dated) 1913 novel SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE and his series of six Charlie Chan novels, Earl Derr Biggers (1884-1933) was among most widely admired popular novelists of the 1910s and 1920s. First published in 1916, THE AGONY COLUMN finds him very near the top of his form.

Set in London on the eve of World War I, the novel finds American visitor Geoffrey West smitten from afar by a beautiful young woman. In order to gain her attention he places an advertisement in the newspaper "agony column," where individuals run cryptic announcements pertaining love, money, and the like.

The young lady responds with the demand that Geoffrey write seven letters to demonstrate he is a man who might interest her. But even as Geoffrey begins his correspondence, he becomes caught up in circumstances that give him unexpected subject matter: an acquaintance has been viciously and suddenly murdered, and he himself may be suspected of the crime!

As in many Biggers novels, the plot is highly artificial and indeed becomes still more so as the novel progresses--but again as in many Biggers novels, the author's style has tremendous charm, and while many will anticipate the book's major plot turns they are so pleasantly written that THE AGONY COLUMN becomes a pleasant thing to read. An engaging if exceedingly mild tale, perfect for a wet afternoon.

GFT, Amazon Reviewer
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By mcHaiku on April 13, 2007
Format: Paperback
. . . having more elan than antiquated reviewer mcHaiku. "The Agony Column" has rested in my bookcase for several decades - - so long in fact that I had to remind myself that its setting was the start of 'the Great War' . . . meaning the first war, NOT World war II.

The things one learns from Amazon reviewers can astonish: Reviewer GFT made me aware that author Earl Derr Biggers died TOO YOUNG, at age 48 (in Pasadena after a heart attack), and reviewer Orion Pozo reveals that there was a 1930 movie made from the book: "The Second Floor Mystery" with Loretta Young. (My choice would have been 'fetching' artist Wanda Gag. Be sure to check her out on the cover of #0873515455).

Do you wonder with me whether "The Agony Column" was perhaps autobiographical, about the agonies of young writers of the nineteen-twenties finding a beautifully suitable/OR/suitably beautiful love interest? The book's size may be 'slight' but the story is fun and nowhere did I read the word "ZOUNDS." The storyline was built around a London newpaper's "personal" column which intrigues two young tourists, and in which they discover INTRIGUE. Geoffrey & Miriam haven't yet been introduced in the politically correct manner of that day, but he bridges the gap with an ad of his own. Miriam insists that their friendship hinges on receiving seven letters of sufficient interest to warrant an introduction. Her father, in the meantime, is anxious to leave behind England & the imminent war. (He gets 'insider's information from the shoeshine boy). At every turn (of the page) the suspense builds, until Geoffrey is held "IN DURANCE VILE" - - a phrase that stuck with me from age 13!

Reviewer mcHAIKU hopes that Earl Derr Biggers' light 'adventure' story will cause you some smiles when you read it, and later in your dottage?
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Format: Paperback
Geoffrey West is an American in London. Dining one morning on a plate of fresh strawberries, and taking in the personal ads in the newspaper (aptly nicknamed "The Agony Column"), he spots an American tourist girl with her father, a Congressman from Texas. He notes that she too is reading the Agony Column. Later that day he has an idea to place an ad to catch her attention, and vows to send her a letter each day for a week to win her heart. Each letter becomes more interesting than the previous because West finds himself entangled in a murder mystery with new twists each day. And all of this occurs just as World War I is beginning.

A vibrant mystery from beginning to end, this clever story is made all the more interesting because of the format. Most is relayed through West's letters, making it readable and unique. The wording is very flowery and the method of courtship is somewhat dated, but it captures an era, much to the delight of fans of the era. For a look at the past or for an engaging read, look no further than The Agony Column.
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