ISBN: 9781529303889 | RRP $34.99
If, as I am, you are are a fan of historian Lucy Worsley, either in her role as Chief Curator of Royal Historical Palaces and her numerous TV appearances, or in her other guise as a skilled writer of best-selling history books AND you are also an Agatha Christie devotee, you will be one of the many readers who will eagerly take up this newest of Lucy’s books.
I have read quite a bit about Dame Agatha over the years, though admittedly not for some time, but it seemed to me that this volume was in many ways a complete revelation as it peeled the quite complex layers of the woman and celebrity author.
There are clearly many well-known facts about Christie’s life: her mystery disappearance in 1926, her highly publicised marriage to archaeologist Max Mallowan, her own experience working in a dispensary during the Great war which informed her writing of her first successful mystery novel and her record-breaking book sales and stage plays. However, there is so much more to discover about this truly remarkable woman and with her access to many personal letters and papers, Lucy Worsley has provided us with this depth of detail. In many ways an enigma, there is also an element of understanding to be had as one unravels the significant episodes in her life from her quite privileged childhood which subsequently disintegrated into near poverty, to her embrace of the modern world in the early 20th century including fast cars, surfing, and pyschology. Throughout her increasingly successful and high profile career, Agatha protested that she was simply a very ordinary ‘housewife’ – nothing could be further from the truth. Long before the celebrity mania modern society seems to indiscriminately bestow on people notorious for five minutes (and the plethora social media exposure etc) this was a woman whose face and work was not only known but highly respected. Despite her Victorian/Edwardian start to life, she became a beacon for women who aspired to a working career in the contemporary setting.
I read this at night over about two weeks, and was so completely entranced with it that I didn’t even ‘book cheat’ during that time *grin*!
I can highly recommend it to you, especially those of you with an interest in well-researched biographies and literary history. Definitely a 10/10 for this one!