As a child, I was a huge fan of the Nancy Drew books by Caroline Keene. I would devour those books one after another, and once I outgrew reading about Nancy and her friends’ exploits I feared that I would have to let my love for mystery novels fade away —until I discovered Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None. I remember realizing that Agatha Christie was to my adulthood what Caroline Keene had been to my childhood. Once I finished that standalone novel, I became enamored with Christie’s Belgian detective, Hercule Poirot; Poirot with his famous mustaches and his ability to crack seemingly uncrackable cases.
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Today, Agatha Christie’s life and works are being remembered through a biography entitled Agatha Christie: A Mysterious Life by Laura Thompson. The book was published in England about a decade ago, but has only just recently made it across the pond onto U.S. territory. Thompson sheds new light on the writer’s secretive life-a life almost as mysterious to as her novels. As a biographer, Thompson had much more to work with than many other Christie scholars in the past. Between letters, notes, and even personal interviews with Christie’s daughter, Rosalind, Thompson has been able to piece together a much more lucid life for the deceased author.
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As a major fan of Agatha Christie’s, I am most excited to delve into this new biography. Not only does Thompson touch upon Christie’s career as a mystery writer, but she also explores Christie’s work as a romance novelist (a career she pursued under the pseudonym, Mary Westmacott). Thompson suggests that under the name “Agatha Christie” the author was able to continuously publish mystery writing, but that under “Mary Westmacott” she was able to more clearly articulate the pain she felt over the crumbling of her first marriage which had ended in divorce, her strained relationship with her daughter, and her overwhelming love for her own mother. Thompson’s vision of Christie gives her a far more human air than many of us have ever been able to see before.
It’s a wonder that it took so long for the biography to make it across the sea to America, but better late than never! Here’s to digging into a real-life mystery about the extremely private nature of one of the greatest mystery novelists that ever existed! After all, Agatha Christie is the second best-selling author in the world (after Shakespeare, of course).
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