Published by St Martin's Press on February 1st, 2022
Source: Book Club
Buy on Amazon
Nina de Gramont's The Christie Affair is a beguiling novel of star-crossed lovers, heartbreak, revenge, and murder—and a brilliant re-imagination of one of the most talked-about unsolved mysteries of the twentieth century.
Every story has its secrets.
Every mystery has its motives.
“A long time ago, in another country, I nearly killed a woman. It’s a particular feeling, the urge to murder. It takes over your body so completely, it’s like a divine force, grabbing hold of your will, your limbs, your psyche. There’s a joy to it. In retrospect, it’s frightening, but I daresay in the moment it feels sweet. The way justice feels sweet.”
The greatest mystery wasn’t Agatha Christie’s disappearance in those eleven infamous days, it’s what she discovered.
London, 1925: In a world of townhomes and tennis matches, socialites and shooting parties, Miss Nan O’Dea became Archie Christie’s mistress, luring him away from his devoted and well-known wife, Agatha Christie.
The question is, why? Why destroy another woman’s marriage, why hatch a plot years in the making, and why murder? How was Nan O’Dea so intricately tied to those eleven mysterious days that Agatha Christie went missing?
Any hardcore Agatha Christie fan (like we are), knows at least a couple of things about the greatest author in the world’s, life and times. If you are worth your salt, of course you know about her disappearance in 1926 and the facts surrounding it.
The basics are as follows: On the 3rd of December 1926, the famed mystery author left her home and her car was found abandoned the following day. 11 Days later, she was found in a hotel in Yorkshire with no recollection of the last 11 days. “I can’t remember” was all she had to say about the events until her dying day.
Therefore, just about anything said regarding those 11 days, are speculation at best and non-factional at worst. Oh it must have been a wonderful time to be a curious ninny. Fresh facts colored with speculation and imagination must have been splendid. I know if I lived short of a 100 years ago, I would have kept all the newspaper clippings and read them over and over, searching to fill in the vague details with the most extraordinary story I can imagine. It’s Agatha Christie! The woman who could create the most unbelievable murder mysteries and solve them in the most splendid way.
“Authors create problems, they don’t solve them.”
I do know that the extraordinary tale that I would come up with, would be very far removed from that of Nina de Gramont. An extraordinary tale indeed.
The Goodreads blurb above, just gives us a very small glimpse of what The Christie Affair is about. It’s a beautifully apt title – The Christie Affair. Because it’s mainly all about the affair. Not the action, but the person.
Fact: On the night of December 3rd 1926, Archibald Christie and his wife, Agatha, had a quarrel after Archibald announced his plan to spend the weekend away with friends – without his wife. Speculation regarding the true subject of the quarrel was his affair with Nancy Neele and the fact that he desperately wanted a divorce from Agatha to marry his mistress.
“She had every right to storm out of this world”
And thus begins The Christie Affair and from here on, do not go for a coffee with your good friend Google. Or if you happen to have a copy of Agatha Christie’s biography, leave it on the shelf. You will find no more hard facts in the rest of the story. Is that a bad thing? To answers that question, I have to split myself in two: 1) an independent reviewer 2) Mareli
1) Independent Reviewer: What an amazing book! The first person narrative was quite exquisitely presented and you could hear and feel Nan’s voice right from the first to the last page. I can’t say that I loved Nan’s back story, because love is the worst word to use in her circumstances. The lack of love, in fact, is part due to the end results of her actions later in life. Weaving the aftermath of the Great War and the horrors Nan had to experience at a very young age with the 11 day disappearance of crime author, Agatha Christie, was brilliant. Did the events rang true? As an independent reviewer, I guess it’s more than possible. Rating: 4/5
2) Mareli: I was so excited to read this book! I squealed with excitement when it landed in our Book Club and I’ve left it for the holidays so I can really get into it. Strangely enough, it didn’t grasp me as much as anticipating in the first few chapters. Full of hope, I carried on and got submerged in Nan’s tale. That poor, poor girl. My heart breaks for you. And then we discovered what it was she actually wanted from the two A.C’s and Nina de Gramont lost me completely. I’ve struggled to remain an independent reader and to not let personal perceptions and preconceived ideas about my favorite author in forever, cloud my judgement. But alas, to no avail. I simply couldn’t get my mind around the Agatha portrayed in this book. Rating: 2/5
I do understand why this is a very popular read and I will still encourage people to read it. It is an extraordinary tale and Nina de Gramont sure does have a wonderful writing style. It just didn’t work for me at all. And that’s okay. As a modern day woman, I am ever so grateful to live in a day and age where I do have the right to my own opinion and don’t need to fear to say it out loud.