The author of the New York Times bestselling The Six now turns her formidable biographical skills to the greatest crime writer in the world, Agatha Christie.
It has been one hundred years since Agatha Christie wrote her first novel and created the formidable Hercule Poirot. A brilliant and award winning biographer, Laura Thompson now turns her sharp eye to Agatha Christie. Arguably the greatest crime writer in the world, Christie's books still sell over four million copies each yearmore than thirty years after her deathand it shows no signs of slowing.
But who was the woman behind these mystifying, yet eternally pleasing, puzzlers? Thompson reveals the Edwardian world in which Christie grew up, explores her relationships, including those with her two husbands and daughter, and investigates the many mysteries still surrounding Christie's life, most notably, her eleven-day disappearance in 1926.
Agatha Christie is as mysterious as the stories she penned, and writing about her is a detection job in itself. With unprecedented access to all of Christie's letters, papers, and notebooks, as well as fresh and insightful interviews with her grandson, daughter, son-in-law and their living relations, Thompson is able to unravel not only the detailed workings of Christie's detective fiction, but the truth behind this mysterious woman.
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About the Author
Table of Contents
The Villa at Torquay 1
The Young Miss Miller 39
The Husband 72
The Child 110
The Secret Adversary 147
The Quarry 186
The Second Husband 259
English Murder 356
The Late Years 409
God's Mark 458
The Works of Agatha Christie 486
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Agatha Christie is one of my favourite authors, and Laura Thompson's biography captures the imaginative, timelessly endearing qualities of Christie's life and work, even attempting to define the ineffable durability of her books (despite the fact that they are constantly decried as being dated, xenophobic, racist and unrealistic, Christie is still the bestselling author after the Bible and Shakespeare). However, the great emphasis on her relationships with her husbands and her daughter - not just the facts but speculation as to feelings, chapters which hung on quotes from old love letters made it a very... feminine biography. Even taking into account that the focus of the book was admittedly her 11 day disappearance in 1926, Laura Thompson brought her own view of what mattered in the author's life very much to bear; which, while valid and making for great insight into those areas, doesn't really cover the whole purview of the biographer. Personally, I would have liked a little more on Christie's childhood, schooling, what she herself read for enjoyment and thought of other authors... it's not usual to find a book about an author that doesn't at least briefly examine her bookshelves. There's something gossipy about a biography that digs intently at the questions of how many affairs either husband might have had, and for how long, since when, and did Agatha know, particularly when the biographer herself makes it clear that Christie would have hated having her private life deconstructed thus.Yet the biography is very accessibly written, and Thompson certainly pays due and satisfying attention to Christie's books and characters... the quotes from books that highlight or refer to Agatha's own life are interesting and her literary criticism is sound; she is also sure to present every angle where only rumour and speculation remain to shape an event.On the whole, I enjoyed this biography but some parts left me feeling slightly mucky, as though I'd gossiped about a dear friend who would have been upset to think her motives, weaknesses and affections were on public display.Her own autobiography might have glossed over much unpleasantness in her life, but if anyone has the right to a mystery or two, it's surely Agatha Christie.
I am a fan of Agatha Christie's books and this book is an interesting and informative insight into Dame Agatha's life. There is a chapter about the famous 'disappearance' which feels psychologically sound, but, because Agatha Christie refused to discuss this incident, no matter how much Laura Thompson tries to illustrate her theory by using possible hints from the books, this is interesting speculation. What I really enjoyed about this book is the fascinating analysis of both the detective novels and the novels written under the pseudonym, Mary Westmacott, which forms part of Laura Thompson's argument that Christie's writing is, on the whole, of literary merit and value. I am now planning and scheduling a major re-read of of all the detective novels as this book has whetted my appetite.