I can sometimes be a bit hesitant about historical fiction but the mystery element captured my attention with this read.
The Christie Affair
Nina De Gramont
In 1926, Agatha Christie disappeared for 11 days. Only I know the truth of her disappearance.
I’m no Hercule Poirot.
I’m her husband’s mistress.
Agatha Christie’s world is one of glamorous society parties, country house weekends, and growing literary fame.
Nan O’Dea’s world is something very different. Her attempts to escape a tough London upbringing during the Great War led to a life in Ireland marred by a hidden tragedy.
After fighting her way back to England, she’s set her sights on Agatha. Because Agatha Christie has something Nan wants. And it’s not just her husband.
Despite their differences, the two women will become the most unlikely of allies. And during the mysterious eleven days that Agatha goes missing, they will unravel a dark secret that only Nan holds the key to . . .
Is it terrible to admit that I have never read a book by Agatha Christie, I have heard of her and I have seen tv shows and movies about or inspired by her books but I have not yet managed to get around to reading one. When I read the blurb for this book though, I was so intrigued, I didn’t know that Agatha Christie had gone missing for eleven days and I thought it sounded like a brilliant premise for a story, especially being told by her husband’s mistress. I should mention that I decided to go into this book with the knowledge that I already had of Mrs Christie and just see where the story would take me, rather than look it up beforehand.
This made the style of the book quite interesting, as I mentioned the story is told from the perspective of Nan O’Dea, Mr Christie’s mistress of whom Agatha is aware, but it is a retrospective of this time and frequently refers to situations that are in the future and some that are clearly far passed where this story will end. I can imagine that if you already knew a lot about Agatha’s life then these references wouldn’t have too much impact on the story but I found them at times fascinating, as it made me wonder about the twists and turns the story would take, but also at times a little bit frustrating as certain hopes for characters were dashed before getting to experience it through the narrative.
I did find Nan’s backstory compelling and at times heartbreaking, there is another theme in this part of the story that took the book in a direction I didn’t expect but added depth and really played on my emotions. However, I did often wonder whilst reading what the relevance of these sections were. Obviously, they were in part to paint a broader picture of Nan so that she wasn’t thought of entirely negatively, but there is so much time and detail spent on Nan that I knew it was something more. As I got further into the story I started to understand the relevance and a lot of the puzzle pieces clicked together, but I do feel that if I had picked up on that sooner into the story then I would have savoured them a bit more rather than hoping to get through them to get back to the disappearance.
There is also a bit of a locked room mystery element to the story which I enjoyed because I felt like it was a nod to Christie’s work, it was a bit unexpected and again there were points that I wondered why it was relevant but the reveal was enthralling and very clever. I feel like there were a lot of threads to pull together by the end of this story and whilst I did finish wondering whether a few had been dropped along the way; the structure has a lot of chop and change at points, keeps things snappy; in the end, I was glad that the ending was a little more open and imaginative.