Genre: Historical Fiction, Biographical Fiction | Release Date: 25 January 2022 | Standalone | Pages: 320 | Publisher: Mantle | Review
The Christie Affair by Nina de Gramont promised to be full of mystery, intrigue and a touch of heartache. And this historical fiction delivered all three, as well as some kind of magic which transported my soul to England in 1926. For those who aren’t familiar with Agatha Christie’s life, this book delves into her disappearance for eleven days. But it doesn’t stop there, because it also examines the connection between Agatha and Nan O’Dea, her husband’s mistress (and later wife).
Told from Nan’s point of view, The Christie Affair is a story which, if I’m being honest, I went into wondering if I needed to dislike Nan… But I couldn’t. I really couldn’t. It’s a tangled web, but reality usually is, isn’t it? And there’s so much realism in this book that I could only ache for everyone’s troubles. This story flickers between the present (the days of Agatha’s disappearance) and the past (Nan’s backstory). Both feature sadness, and somehow the two women’s separate lives become entwined throughout this tale, for more than just the obvious link of wife and mistress.
In 1926, Agatha disappeared for eleven days after Archie (her husband), told her he wanted a divorce. A nationwide search ensued, because nobody could say where she had gone. Had she died by suicide? Got lost somehow? There’s a lot to unpack in this historical fiction. And I was hooked from the very first line to the last.
The style of writing was reminiscent of the approach Christie actually gives us in her novels, as well as the beautiful Once Upon A Wardrobe by Patti Callahan. It was like I was reading a friend’s confessions, all laid out for me to look through. Nan presents us her perceptions, but she isn’t above telling us that some things are better left imagined instead of laid out in black and white. It’s a refreshing read, after delving so deeply into fantasy lately!
The effects of WWI are scattered throughout The Christie Affair, and I honestly like that it’s a constant theme. Only seven years have passed, and what so many people went through irrevocably changed their lives. It certainly did for Nan and Finbarr, her former love. If this novel hadn’t had that, it would’ve felt completely wrong. Nina has given her readers an insight into one of the biggest talking points of Christie’s life, with an eye for detail and reality.
I love a lot of things about The Christie Affair, but as I don’t want to give away spoilers, I’m going to be miserly with my detailed happiness boosts. Suffice to say, if you love anything Agatha Christie? You are going to really, really enjoy this.
There’s no downside to The Christie Affair. Not for me, anyway. If you’re in the mood for a historical fiction, one which gives you an idea of what Agatha Christie could’ve been up to for those eleven days? You will not be disappointed with this!
Nina de Gramont has given us a masterful novel about one of the most talked about aspects in Christie’s life. Agatha Christie never did say why she disappeared for eleven days, or what occurred in that time. I would love to think that what Nina gives us is completely true. I was swept away with Nan’s tale, her inviting asides and frank discussions. The Christie Affair is a story that grips your heart and mind, and as a reader you can’t ask for more than that. Happy reading, glitterbugs!
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