Sunday, September 25, 2022

Agatha Christie: A Mysterious Life: Laura Thompson


I started out loving this biography of Agatha Christie. It is very readable, and the first chapter about her childhood was charming. I did not know that much about Christie's life at all, especially before her marriage to Max Mallowan, so I learned a lot from the earlier chapters about her courtship and marriage to Archie Christie. The author often mentioned Christie's writing and specific mysteries, and I enjoyed that part a lot. 

However, the author depended too much on quotes from Christie's fiction books (mostly the non-mystery books) to demonstrate and support statements about Agatha's relationships with other people, and especially Archie Christie. 

The chapter about the mystery of Christie's disappearance went on too long for me, and since not much is definitely known about that event, she was making guesses on a good bit of it. On the other hand this was the first I had read on the subject, and she had to handle that period of time in some way, so that is a minor complaint. There were interesting facts (and opinions?) about how the investigation was handled.

Overall, I learned a lot of things about Agatha Christie's life that I have never known, and I appreciated learning about what was going on in her life when she wrote some of her books, especially the earlier ones.  Even with the few quibbles I had regarding this book, I found that it was interesting, informative, and well worth reading.

I would like to read other books on Christie's life. I had forgotten that she wrote an autobiography and I will be looking for a copy of that. I will also be seeking out Come, Tell Me How You Live by Christie, which focuses on her experiences on archaeological trips with Max Mallowan, her second husband. I have a copy of Robert Barnard's A Talent to Deceive: An Appreciation of Agatha Christie, which is more about her books and her writing, but does include some about her life. I would appreciate other recommendations. 


Publisher:  Pegasus Books, 2018 (orig. publ. 2007)
Length:      485 pages
Format:      Hardcover
Setting:      UK, mostly
Genre:       Biography
Source:      I purchased my copy in June 2022.


Cath said...

The one everybody seems to be talking about at the moment is Lucy Worsley's new book about Agatha Christie. Apparently it's quite good so I'll be grabbing that at some stage.

CLM said...

Yes, I am also now interested in reading a biography of Christie or her own memoir.

TracyK said...

Cath, I have heard about that one but not much. I will probably try that one at some time too. Or I will wait and see what you think. And I will get the autobiography in the meantime.

TracyK said...

Constance, I think either (or both) would be good. I found her whole life to be interesting, from beginning to end.

pattinase (abbott) said...

There were complaints about the Worsley one too. I think the definitive one has yet to be written. Maybe she was too good a keeping a mystery.

Margot Kinberg said...

I was wondering whether I wanted to read this one, Tracy. I've heard a lot about it, and it does sound very informative. I know what you mean about the quotes, though; I can see how that would be disappointing.

TracyK said...

Patti, apparently Christie was very good at not revealing what happened when she disappeared, and it is amazing she stuck with that determination. And weathered the storm of the criticism afterwards.

It will probably be best to wait a while before I read another biography from another person's point of view.

TracyK said...

Margot, overall reading this book was a good experience, but I took plenty of time to read it. I do have one of the books about Christie's notebooks by John Curran. Maybe I have finally read enough of Christie's mysteries so that I can go ahead and read that.

Lark said...

Sounds like this one is readable and interesting. But then, Christie led a very interesting life. I wonder if we'll ever really know what happened when during that time she 'disappeared'.

TracyK said...

Lark, this book really opened my eyes to a lot of facts about her life. For instance, her financial issues and her difficult relationship with her daughter.

My guess is that we will never know what happened. After all this time.

Clothes In Books said...

I know what you mean about her over-reliance on quotes, and she sometimes treats occurrences in books (particularly the Mary Westmacott books) as facts, absolute descriptions, but I still enjoyed this book very much, and am glad you did too. I like the fact that Laura T is opinionated and lets you know what she thinks, it makes it very entertaining.
I have read some of her other biographies and liked them too.

TracyK said...

Moira, there was much to like about this book, and I will be keeping it as a resource... even though I want read other resources, the autobiography and biographies by other authors. I enjoyed the background about Christie's books and where they fit into her life. Even though I complained about too much time spent on the disappearance, I did like that she gave her opinion on other theories and disputed the claims on that subject in other books. And she obviously has a lot of affection for Agatha Christie, which helped a lot.