There’s been plenty of books over the years which have reimagined what happened during those 11 days when famous author Agatha Christie disappeared. And, maybe this one isn’t the best exploration of the subject matter as it actually doesn’t have that much to do with Agatha. But I thoroughly enjoyed this book – it was a gripping, multi-layered historical drama – with a little Christie-esque murder mystery thrown in too!
This story is told from the point of view of Nan O’Dea, a fictional character based on a real person. She’s the other woman – she’s embroiled in an affair with Archie Christie and, when he decides it’s finally time to reveal all and tell his wife Agatha his secret, it sets off a chain of events she could never have predicted.
“Anyone who says I have no regrets is either a psychopath or a liar. I am neither of those things, simply adept at keeping secrets.”
It’s a bold move from the author to choose to tell this story from the view of the other woman rather than Agatha herself, but for me it really works. Nan is a wonderfully complex characters – she’s certainly no angel, but as she reveals more to the reader about her history she becomes easier to understand. And, she provides her own unique viewpoint on exactly what happened to Agatha – despite reflecting that she wasn’t present herself.
As Agatha’s disappearance sparks a nationwide police hunt, Nan has her own business to take care of so travels to Harrogate. We follow the 11 days of the disappearance, but alongside this Nan shares her own story. This takes the reader on a journey back to the early 1900s, to a lost love and teenage summers spent on an Irish farm, through to devastation of World War 1 and Nan’s time in an Irish convent. It’s haunting and tragic, and it’s her history which really steal the show here.
But it all ties back to present day, 1926, and Agatha’s disappearance. The author brings the two timelines together in a clever and original way I could have never predicted. Some elements of the story mimic Christie’s own writing, with an ingenious structure packed with twists and turns along the way. This was a clever, compelling and touching tale which gives an original take on the vanishing of Agatha Christie.
I received this book in exchange for an honest review. 4.5/5.