Thursday, January 27, 2022

ARC Review: The Christie Affair by Nina de Gramont

The Christie Affair

Nina de Gramont
Publication: St. Martin's Press (February 1, 2022)

Description: 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?

My Thoughts: This book was an intriguing reimagining of the days Agatha Christie disappeared in 1926. It is told from the viewpoint of Nan O'Dea - the Other Woman - who was Archie Christie's mistress and second wife. 

As the story develops, we learn about Nan's past and her reasons for pursuing Archie. Along the way there is romance and murder and revenge for a great wrong. The murders were not center stage and seemed to be almost a throw away detail in the bigger picture when they were first described. I liked the echoes to some of Agatha's stories - very MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS. 

The story was not fast paced but unfolded in a leisurely manner that still managed to be intensely gripping. Revelation after revelation build a strong picture of Nan and, peripherally, Agatha Christie and Archie Christie who doesn't fare well in this story. 

The story also illuminates the time period between the first and second world wars when mores are changing and there is more than a social revolution going on. Nan's history includes horrific details about the fates of unwed mothers and their babies during that time period and in that place. Agatha's own growth, as depicted in this story, is also an example of social change. 

This story was an interesting imagining of those missing days in Agatha's life told by a woman who is just a footnote in Agatha's story but a strong main character here.

Favorite Quote:
I've sometimes thought Agatha invented Hercule Poirot as an antidote to Archie. There was never an emotional cue Poirot missed, not a wayward emotion for which he didn't feel sympathy. Poirot could absorb and assess a person's sadness, then forgive it. Whereas Arche simply wanted to say Cheer up and have the order followed.
I received this one in exchange for an honest review from NetGalley. You can buy your copy here.

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