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Obsidian Blue

Government drone by day and book lover and geek girl by night!

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Way too Many Quotes/Links to Books & Not Enough about Christie

Agatha Christie: A Mysterious Life - Laura Thompson

This book was all over the place for me. It was also repetitive as anything, if you want to read countless comments made about how Christie was beautiful once, got fat, and also left her first husband alone too much (i.e. it's her fault he had an affair and left her) well then this book is for you.


Thompson does tell Christie's life story from beginning (birth) to end (death). However, there seems to be a wall between Thompson and the reader. I wanted to know more about Christie, not Thompson's reading between the lines of all of Christie's works in order to show how Christie really feels about things.


For example:


"In her detective novel Three Act Tragedy she has the young ‘Egg’ Lytton-Gore in love with a much older man: ‘Girls were always attracted to middle-aged men with interesting pasts.’ The relationship is all about hero-worship on one side, youth-worship on the other, but this does not mean it would be more difficult to sustain than a marriage between apparent equals, or one that is apparently without illusions. ‘Lady Mary, you wouldn’t like your girl to marry a man twice her own age,’ a character says to Egg’s mother. ‘Her answer surprised him. “It might be safer so . . . At that age a man’s follies and sins are definitely behind him; they are not – still to come . . . "

Thompson uses this as an example of Christie being okay with her marriage to her first husband Archibald Christie. 


"The Secret Adversary had the quality peculiar to almost everything that Agatha ever wrote: readability. The hero and heroine may send some readers for a metaphorical shotgun but Agatha’s delight in them is evident. She especially loved her ex-VAD Tuppence, every bit Tommy’s match in courage and resourcefulness, although the feminist angle would not have occurred to her creator. Tuppence is a sunny-natured little pragmatist – as was Agatha, at times – with a childlike greed for both food and money. Money, indeed, is the real theme of the book."


Once again she uses one of Christie's works as a way to diagnose her. She does this repeatedly throughout the book and it gets old. 


There are quotes from Christie's autobiography in this book which I wish I had just read. It seems ten times more interesting than this book. 


I was curious about Christie leaving her only child Rosalind behind so much. Thompson makes comments making it seem as if Rosalind blamed Christie for leaving her father alone too much and also didn't much care for her second husband Max, however, at the same time she brings up how protective Rosalind was of Agatha. This book does not do much to answer those questions for me. Instead Thompson just brings up enough points on both sides to make you wonder about the relationship between mother and daughter.

Thompson also does it regarding Christie's first marriage and her second marriage. She either loved Archibald Christie until his/her death or she got over it. She was okay with her second husband being 14 years her junior or she was not. She knew about him cheating on her or maybe she didn't.

I was also turned off by Thompson defending Christie's racism that showed up in her works (see the original title to "And Then There Were None" and the constant comments about Jewish people in her works). She tries to make a stab at saying that Christie was too above labels or some such thing and I felt annoyed that Thompson at least who wrote this back in 2007 would not grasp why it's not okay to use the "N" word or always describing Jewish characters in a negative fashion. 


The writing is so boring. Probably because of the quotes included and the commentary about Christie's books included in what is supposed to be a biography of Christie. The flow was awful. I realized at one point that we didn't even get to when Christie meets her second husband until page 310. There is a lot that could have been trimmed out of this 544 page book. The only thing I really enjoyed was looking at the pictures that Thompson included at the end.