I was very excited to read The Christie Affair and it did not disappoint! This brilliant book is a fictionalised account of a fascinating real-life happening: In December 1926, iconic author Agatha Christie disappeared for 11 days. And no-one knows why or what happened to her…
So, as well as this true and very intriguing base material, Nina de Gramont has made our narrator the woman Agatha Christie’s husband, Archie was having an affair with. And, in this novel, it is she who has the inside track and tells us what happened to Agatha over those 11 lost days.
Opening sentence: A long time ago, in another country, I nearly killed a woman.
A feminist story
As well as a clever and engaging telling of what happened to Agatha, The Christie Affair is also a commentary on women’s place in society – 1920s society in this case.
At the time this is set, Agatha is 36-years old, has been married to Archie for 12 years and they have a 7 year old daughter, Teddy. (In real life, Agatha’s daughter was Rosalind, so some details have been tweaked for the story here.) Although born into the upper classes, Agatha’s career as a writer gives her drive and ambition and sets her apart from the domestic role laid out for her.
There weren’t enough police in the world to set out looking for all of us.
Nan O’Dea is our narrator. She is Archie Christie’s secretary and mistress but she is so much more than that. We learn about her heartbreaking history, how she came to meet Archie and the circumstances that led to her being where she is now. And, how it is that it is she, and she alone, that knows what happened to Agatha…
As her Inspector Poirot liked to say, ‘One must respect the psychology.’
I’m not going to say too much more on the plot as I don’t want to give anything away but The Christie Affair is far more multi-layered than I was expecting: it has drama, excitement, heartbreak and a strong feminist message – all hooked on a real life event. That’s the perfect narrative blend for me – loved it! It has most certainly set the bar high for my reads this year.
- Thank you to NetGalley for the ARC;
- Get your copy of The Christie Affair here;
- Published by Pan MacMillan 20th January 2022;
- 368 pages;
- My rating: