Review by Publisher's Weekly Review
Though Christie once declared, "I think people should be interested in books and not their authors," she might have changed her mind after reading this sympathetic and insightful biography. Thompson (The Six) skillfully creates a portrait of the detective-novel doyenne as an imaginative, intelligent woman who loved life but yearned for the security she experienced during her childhood. The creator of Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple grew up in a book-filled house in genteel Torquay, a coastal English town, in thrall to her perceptive, loving mother. Thompson makes the convincing argument that much of Christie's story hinges on her mysterious 11-day disappearance in 1926, when, already famous, she left home in reaction to her first husband's adulterous affair. Although she left letters behind indicating where she'd be staying-a hotel in Bath-her abandoned car and abrupt departure led to a massive police hunt and resulting media circus. Thompson locates the scandal's lasting effects in Christie's lingering sense of insecurity and aversion to publicity. In her later years, some of her happiest times would be spent on her second husband's Middle Eastern archeological digs, where she could escape being the center of attention. Thompson makes cogent arguments for the craft and depth of Christie's writing that will surely lead new readers to her books-exactly where she would have wanted the focus. (Mar.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by Library Journal Review
In 1920, a young Englishwoman published a successful detective novel-The Mysterious Affair at Styles-introducing the sleuth destined to become world famous: Hercule Poirot. Agatha Christie continued to write until her death in 1976, creating books and a style that are considered classics of the mystery genre. There are few who wouldn't recognize Christie, the author, and her books continue to be best sellers throughout the world. Yet Christie herself remains elusive. Meticulously researched and painstakingly crafted, this even-handed new biography by Thompson (The Six) sheds respectful insight into her subject while carefully untangling previous speculation and gossip. Thompson thoroughly considers all aspects of Christie's life: her relationship with her beloved mother, Clara, who was "the love of her life," her lengthy disappearance in 1926, her divorce from Archie Christie, and remarriage to archaeologist Max Mallowan. Thompson is particularly strong when describing Christie's disappearance and how it affected her life: Christie is revealed as an imaginative, hardworking woman who loved life but who also shunned publicity. VERDICT A tour-de-force, this thorough and eminently readable book will delight current Christie fans while also engaging new ones. Ideal for all collections.-Penelope J.M. Klein, Fayetteville, NY © Copyright 2018. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Review by Kirkus Book Review
A generous and meticulous biography of the legendary crime writer.In a book originally published in England in 2008 as Agatha Christie: An English Mystery, Somerset Maugham Award winner Thompson (The Six: The Lives of the Mitford Sisters, 2016, etc.) offers an affectionate take on the beloved British mystery writer. Thompson calls Agatha Christie (1890-1976) an "entirely private person" who loved to write. As a young girl living a privileged life with servants on the English coast, she published a poem in a local newspaper and never stopped. Her output was prodigious. She wrote her first mystery, The Mysterious Affair at Styles (in which Hercule Poirot"unreal, unbelievable, yet mysteriously alive"makes his first appearance) in 1916, after her sister said, "I bet you couldn't." After it was published in 1920, Christie published novels, plays, and stories, including the "obviously autobiographical," pseudonymous Mary Westmacott books, virtually every year. Thompson writes that Christie became a better writer "by degrees. By intelligence; by instinct; by confidence; by courage." The author is unquestionably a fan of Christie's works, which she knows intimately, discussing them in a somewhat reverential tone, but she also admits that Christie wasn't always "at her best." Christie's "dazzling" and "elegantly" structured novel The Murder of Roger Ackroyd (1926) is "exquisite." Five Little Pigs (1942) is a "masterly piece of writing." Thompson has a penchant for mixing the biography with the works, quoting extensively from them to help reinforce her discussions of events in Christie's life. She is excellent with her almost novelistic, day-by-day accounting of Christie's famous disappearance in 1926 when she was distraught after learning about her first husband's affair with another woman. She made the reporters covering the story "look silly. Now she would suffer for it." Thompson admits Christie "probably was something of a snob" and a "writer first, mother second."Christie lovers will revel in this comprehensive, authoritative book. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.