Nonfiction November: Week 3 – Be The Expert – Agatha Christie

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I’m taking part in Nonfiction November 2019 again this year. It was one of my favourite events last year – this year it will run from Oct 28 to Nov 30. Each Monday a link-up for the week’s topic will be posted at the host’s blog for you to link your posts throughout the week.

This week’s topic is: 

Be The Expert/Ask the Expert/Become the Expert (Katie @ Doing Dewey): Three ways to join in this week! You can either share 3 or more books on a single topic that you have read and can recommend (be the expert), you can put the call out for good nonfiction on a specific topic that you have been dying to read (ask the expert), or you can create your own list of books on a topic that you’d like to read (become the expert).

I read more fiction than nonfiction, so I can’t claim to be an expert in any one subject, but I do read quite a lot of autobiographies and biographies and combined with my love of crime fiction I’ve chosen Agatha Christie for the subject of this post. I have read all of her crime fiction novels, her Autobiography and her memoir, Come Tell Me How You Live.

Agatha Christie

Agatha Christie: An Autobiography. It took her fifteen years to write it. She stopped in 1965 when she was 75 because she thought that it was the ‘right moment to stop’. As well as being a record of her life as she remembered it and wanted to relate it, it’s also full of her thoughts on life and writing. I’ve written about her Autobiography in a few posts as I was reading it:

Agatha Christie: Come, Tell Me How You Live: an archaeological memoir – she had visited the Middle East in 1929 travelling on the Orient Express to Istanbul and then on to Damascus and Baghdad. She visited the excavations at Ur and returned there the following spring where she met archaeologist Max Mallowan – by the end of the summer they had decided to marry, which they did on 11 September 1930. She wrote this memoir to answer her friends’ questions about what life was like when she accompanied Max on his excavations in Syria and Iraq in the 1930s.

I can also recommend the following books:

Agatha Christie and the Eleven Missing Days by Jared Cade – a fascinating book. I did feel as though I was intruding into Agatha Christie’s private life that she had not wanted made known but Cade writes sympathetically. In December 1926 Agatha Christie disappeared from her home, Styles, in Berkshire. She was found eleven days later in a hotel in Harrogate, Yorkshire apparently suffering from amnesia.   The book is not just about those eleven days but is a biography that reveals how those eleven days and the events that led up to her disappearance influenced the rest of her life.

Agatha Christie: An English Mystery by Laura Thompson – Overall, I think that this book as a biography is unbalanced, concentrating on the events surrounding Agatha’s disappearance and there is much speculation and supposition. I prefer Agatha’s own version of her life: An Autobiography, in which she merely referred to the events of 1926 thus:

The next year of my life is one I hate recalling. As so often in life, when one thing goes wrong, everything goes wrong. (page 356)

Agatha Christie at Home by Hilary Macaskill –  a beautiful book, with many photographs – more than 100 colour photos – illustrating Agatha’s life and homes.

Poirot and Me by David Suchet – For me Suchet was the perfect Poirot and this book really lives up to its title, as the main subject is David Suchet’s role as Poirot. His first performance as Poirot was in 1988. Over the intervening twenty five years he played the part in every one of the seventy Poirot stories that Agatha Christie wrote, with the exception of a tiny short story called The Lemesurier Inheritance (a story in Poirot’s Early Cases and in The Under Dog).

I also dip into two more books about Agatha Christie’s work – Agatha Christie’s Secret Notebooks: Fifty Years of Mysteries in the Making by John Curran and The Life and Crimes of Agatha Christie by Charles Osborne.

7 thoughts on “Nonfiction November: Week 3 – Be The Expert – Agatha Christie

  1. I was wondering if you’d mention the ‘missing days’ and it’s interesting you’ve found some of the delving into that too intrusive. I love David Suchet’s portrayal of Poirot as well. My husband is also a fan and has read Poirot and Me. I was lucky enough to hear David Suchet talk about his photographic memoir, Behind the Lens, at this year’s Henley Literary Festival. Poirot did get a mention you may not be surprised to know!

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    1. Yes, I did find it too intrusive and also rather speculative. She was a private person – I don’t know how she would cope with today’s press!There was a TV programme about her disappearance some years ago and also I was amused to see an episode of Dr Who that featured her disappearance as well.


  2. What an excellent choice, Margaret. She was such an interesting person, even apart from her writing, and there’s plenty there in those books. And, yes, those 11 days are fascinating to think about, aren’t they? Part of me wants to know absolutely everything. Part of me also wonders whether she might rather have kept that time really private. A really, really interesting person!


  3. Two of my favourite books featured, her autobiography and Come, Tell Me How You Live. And I also enjoyed Poirot and Me. I can’t say I particulary want to delve into the days she disappeared so I don’t blame her for not talking about it in her book. I must investigate the two books you mention at the end of your post as they sound interesting.


  4. Just to say how much I enjoyed reading your thoughts on Agatha Christie, in this post, and in the various links you included. I recently re-read Bertram’s Hotel, and thoroughly enjoyed it – I’d forgotten how good she can be. Now I’ve embarked on a Miss Marple marathon, but Poirot, modest thought he claims to be, is demanding attention, and Mr Quinn is standing quietly in the background, so the project is likely to expand! And having read your posts, I want to find out more about Agatha. There’s a lot of reading ahead!


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