Rose and the Yew Tree is a tragedy novel written by Agatha Christie and first published in the UK by William Heinemann Ltd in November 1948 and in the US by Farrar & Rinehart later in the same year. It is the fourth of six novels Christie published under the nom-de-plume Mary Westmacott.

The novel's title

The title of the novel is taken from Section V of Little Gidding from T. S. Eliot's Four Quartets. The full line, as quoted in the epigraph to the novel, is:

"The moment of the rose and the moment of the yew-tree
Are of equal duration".

Plot summary

Hugh Norreys, a self-described “cripple” watches John Gabriel run for parliament from his couch in the small Cornish town of St. Loo. Hugh’s invalid status seems to encourage his visitors to reveal their secrets and emotions. Hugh is mystified by Gabriel, an ugly little man who, nevertheless, is attractive to women. He is also intrigued by Isabella, a beautiful young woman from the castle down the road. So, Hugh and most of St. Loo are shocked when, shortly after Gabriel wins the election, he and Isabella run away together and Gabriel resigns as a member of parliament.

The novel explores love, caring for others, and a gothic tragedy of one woman and the men who love her.

Characters

Literary significance and reception

The Times Literary Supplement's review of 6 November 1948, by Sir Julian Henry Hall concluded, "Miss Westmacott writes crisply and is always lucid. The pattern of the book is too vague at one point – the later stages of the hero’s career – but much material has been skilfully compressed within little more than 200 pages."

Adaptations

The novel was adapted by BBC Radio in 2020.

Publication history

  • 1948 William Heinemann Ltd. (London), November 1948, Hardback, 224 pp
  • 1948 Farrar & Rinehart (New York), 1948, Hardback, 249 pp
  • 1964 Dell Books, Paperback, 189 pp
  • 1971 Arbor House, Hardback, 249 pp
  • 1974 Fontana Books (Imprint of HarperCollins), Paperback, 192 pp
  • 1978 Ulverscroft Large-print Edition, Hardcover, 358 pp ISBN 0-7089-0180-8

The novel was first serialised in the US in Good Housekeeping in two abridged instalments, carried in the December 1947 and January 1948 issues.

International titles

  • Swedish: Rosen och tisteln (The rose and the thistle), Isabella


Novels
Hercule Poirot novels The Mysterious Affair at Styles - The Murder on the Links - The Murder of Roger Ackroyd - The Big Four - The Mystery of the Blue Train -Peril at End House - Lord Edgware Dies - Murder on the Orient Express - Three Act Tragedy - Death in the Clouds - The A.B.C. Murders - Murder in Mesopotamia - Cards on the Table - Dumb Witness - Death on the Nile - Appointment with Death - Hercule Poirot's Christmas - Sad Cypress - One, Two, Buckle My Shoe - Evil Under the Sun - Five Little Pigs - The Hollow - Taken at the Flood - Mrs McGinty's Dead - After the Funeral - Hickory Dickory Dock - Dead Man's Folly - Cat Among the Pigeons - The Clocks - Third Girl - Hallowe'en Party - Elephants Can Remember - Curtain
Miss Marple novels The Murder at the Vicarage - The Body in the Library - The Moving Finger - A Murder is Announced - They do it with Mirrors - A Pocket Full of Rye - 4.50 from Paddington - The Mirror Crack'd from Side to Side - A Caribbean Mystery - At Bertram's Hotel - Nemesis - Sleeping Murder
Tommy and Tuppence novels The Secret Adversary - N or M? - By the Pricking of My Thumbs - Postern of Fate
Superintendent Battle novels The Secret of Chimneys - The Seven Dials Mystery - Cards on the Table - Murder is Easy - Towards Zero
Colonel Race novels The Man in the Brown Suit - Cards on the Table - Death on the Nile - Sparkling Cyanide
Other novels The Sittaford Mystery - Why Didn't They Ask Evans? - And Then There Were None - Death Comes as the End - Sparkling Cyanide - Crooked House - They Came to Baghdad - Destination Unknown - The Pale Horse - Endless Night - Passenger to Frankfurt
Published as Mary Westmacott Giant's Bread - Unfinished Portrait - Absent in the Spring - The Rose and the Yew Tree - A Daughter's a Daughter - The Burden
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