Originally published: 20 January 2022
Author: Nina De Gramont
Published by: Mantle Books
Genre: Historical Fiction
Length: 368 pages
Reading dates: 1-5 January 2022
In 1926, Agatha Christie disappeared for 11 days. Only I know the truth of her disappearance.
I’m no Hercule Poirot.
I’m her husband’s mistress.
Agatha Christie’s world is one of glamorous society parties, country house weekends, and growing literary fame.
Nan O’Dea’s world is something very different. Her attempts to escape a tough London upbringing during the Great War led to a life in Ireland marred by a hidden tragedy.
After fighting her way back to England, she’s set her sights on Agatha. Because Agatha Christie has something Nan wants. And it’s not just her husband.
Despite their differences, the two women will become the most unlikely of allies. And during the mysterious eleven days that Agatha goes missing, they will unravel a dark secret that only Nan holds the key to . . .
Well this was a real corker of a book to start 2022 with! The Christie Affair is a reimagining of what happened when Agatha Christie disappeared for 11 days back in 1926, told mostly from the point of view of Nan O’Dea, Arthur Christie’s mistress. As the book begins, Arthur tells Agatha he wants a divorce so he can marry Nan – it is after this announcement that Agatha disappears.
When Arthur breaks his news to Agatha, Nan takes herself away to a spa hotel in Harrogate in order to lie low. Over the course of the book we hear about Nan’s adventures in Ireland as a young girl and how she fell in love with a young Irish lad, Finbarr. We hear about the devastation of the first World War and about how Nan ends up in a convent in Ireland for unmarried pregnant women, in dreadful conditions, where abuse was ignored and the babies were given away to new families without the women’s consent.
We also hear from Inspector Chiltern who has been tasked with hunting for Agatha who finds himself at the same hotel as Nan. Thinking it is highly unlikely Agatha will turn up in Harrogate, Chilton decides to enjoy a few days holiday but while at the hotel, a newly married couple both die and he finds himself investigating.
The Christie Affair was totally captivating. I have read a few of Christie’s books and have visited her home in Torquay but knew very little about her personal life. The explanation that was made for her disappearance back in 1926 was memory loss and Christie never talked about the events that occurred. I loved hearing from Nan who perhaps to begin, being Arthur’s mistress, with was an unsympathetic character. My loyalties and sympathy were firmly with Agatha. But as we hear more of Nan’s back story, I really started to feel for her and could understand some of her actions.
As well as addressing the mystery of Agatha’s disappearance, there is a crime within these pages that is very Agatha Christie Esque. A thoroughly enjoyable and imaginative piece of historical fiction. I know this is my first book of 2022 but I seriously think this will be a contender for my top 10!
Thank you to Book Break UK and Picador for sending a copy of The Christie Affair for review.
About the author:
Nina de Gramont is the author of a collection of short stories, Of Cats and Men, as well as the novels Gossip of the Starlings and The Last September. She has written several YA novels (Every Little Thing in the World, Meet Me at the River, The Boy I Love, and — under the pen name Marina Gessner — The Distance From Me to You). Nina teaches creative writing at the University of North Carolina Wilmington. She lives in coastal North Carolina with her daughter and her husband, the writer David Gessner.