Agatha Christie’s ‘most absorbing mystery’ – her own autobiography.
Over the three decades since her death on 12 January 1976, many of Agatha Christie’s readers and reviewers have maintained that her most compelling book is probably still her least well-known. Her candid Autobiography, written mainly in the 1960s, modestly ignores the fact that Agatha had become the best-selling novelist in history and concentrates on her fascinating private life.
From early childhood at the end of the 19th century, through two marriages and two World Wars, and her experiences both as a writer and on archaeological expeditions with her second husband, Max Mallowan, Agatha shares the details of her varied and sometimes complex life with real passion and openness.
©1977 Agatha Christie (P)2013 HarperCollins Publishers Limited
“Wonderfully easy to read and engrossing.” (The Times)
“The best thing she has ever written.” (Woman’s Own)
“Agatha Christie’s most absorbing mystery – the story of her own unusual life. She has put it all on record: her early romances; a broken (and a happy) marriage; strange events on the path to roaring success.” (Daily Mail)
“A wonderful book – written with a delight in the gradual unfolding of 75 years through the eyes of an exceptional old lady and writer.” (Financial Times)
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"First Class Writing and Reading"
A superb, and long!, comfort-read, with vivid pictures of a Victorian childhood, nursing during WWI in London, lots of travel (surfing in Hawaii in the 1920s!) and (not quite enough) of the life of a working writer. It's largely vividly remembered anecdotes of Christie's life filtered through her novelist's eye; it feels on the whole more like a novel than a memoir.
This is no misery memoir or tell-all-- Christie likes everybody and enjoys everything, has an idyllic childhood, a comfortable middle-class life, and then becomes of course an incredible success. There are some money worries, a divorce etc that are rather swiftly gone over, but they only make her eventual triumph sweeter. It's hard to believe the real Christie was quite such an uncomplicated creature but the 'character' she creates of herself is someone I'd cheerfully spend a long train journey with.
This would all be terribly dull except for the fact that Christie is simply an incredibly good writer (and up till now I haven't been a fan, I think I've only read a couple of her books). She can make even a scene of uneventfully choosing wallpaper entertaining, with the deft characterisation of the workman and a wee three-act structure. Always pleasant and fun, the book has touches of greatness-- her channeling of her childhood self must be one of the great depictions of the child-mind, up there with David Copperfield.
This book is already great, and Judith Boyd's reading makes it wonderful. She reads with all the energy and drama of a novel, I'll definitely look out for other readings by her.
"Entertaining account of an amazing life"
David Suchet’s reminiscences about his 25 years playing Poirot and his interactions with Agatha Christie’s daughter and son-in-law who vigilantly administer her estate made me curious about the woman who created these novels and who was and still is a world-wide success,
Agatha Christie took many years to write her autobiography and in many ways its like a diary of her day-to-day life. I had no idea what a varied, exciting and a time exotic and dangerous life she had experienced.
Her writing style is well suited to being read aloud and she seems to be speaking directly to the reader/listener. I was surprised at the how humorous and often self-deprecating she was about her talents and how she merely treated her writing as a job that had to be done and got on with it.
It is a very long long book but I enjoyed hearing about her, at times, extraordinary life. I have to admit that I didn’t hear every bit of it as I listened while bedridden suffering from a bout of flu and tend to drift in and out of sleep. But the merit of highly detailed account like this means that if you miss some sections you don’t lose the thread of the life.
Most writers of autobiography pass quickly over their childhood years, but not Mrs Chirstie. At first I thought it would be tedious but she evokes a happy Victorian childhood in a comfortably off family so engagingly that I wasn’t bored. I was impressed by her cool head and courage nursing horribly injured soldiers during the First World War and her stoicism while travelling in the Middle East with her archeologist, second husband.
Despite her enormous success as a writer she remained remarkably modest about her achievements.
If you enjoy her novels and/or followed the Poirot and Miss Marple TV series I think you’ll enjoy hearing about the woman whose imagination conjured up these idiosyncratic characters and ingenious plots.
I don’t know what Agatha Christie sounded like but Judith Boyd made me think I was listening to the author telling her story.
"Interesting, well-written/well-read autobiography"
This is an interesting and well written account of the crime writer Agatha Christie’s life, from when she was a small child through to her 75th year. It is very easy listening and provided a comprehensive account of her background, where she lived, what she did, who she encountered (including relatives) and what she thought of them. It is as if you were sitting next to her and she was recounting her life in detail and in chronological order. However, as with all autobiographies, it only relates what the author wants to remember and wants to share. So, there are no shocking revelations, but on the whole I think it is candid and well balanced.
Christie does little to hide any social/class biases she had, although it is clear that she recognised the significant social changes through which she had lived. After listening to this book I held her in greater esteem than before, not for her writing, but for being true to herself. She came from a ‘comfortable’ background; she knew it and accepted it.
The book also showed Christie as a young and adventurous girl, someone who was a complex mixture of emotions, sometimes thoughtful and reflective, sometimes risk taking. What disappointed me a little was the relatively small amount of prose allocated to her literately work, there are some insightful comments, but they were relatively thin on the ground. Considering how widely travelled she was, the accounts of people rather than places seems to dominate and this, perhaps, is why she was such a successful author. Also, she wrote it looking back as a seventy five year old woman and I suspect that her quite vivid accounts of some parts of her life might actually be more faction than fact, in the sense that a biographer may have undertaken much research, whilst this book is probably what the author has remembered, or thought she remembered.
Finally, Judith Boyd gave Christie a voice that was consistent and measured. I suspect that she captured the manner in which the Author might have read it herself.
If you like biographies and wish to know about Agatha Christie’s full and interesting life then this is a good choice… as long as you are not seeking great insights about her literary works.
"More twists & turns than one of her novels"
I loved the way she describes the way she has used her imagination at different times throughout her life. I also enjoyed finding out there was much more to her life than her books and that she found it hard to think of herself as a professional writer.
It's hard to pick just one, maybe it's her mentioning "the kittens" as her way to entertain herself.
The voices, especially of Agatha as a child. And it sometimes felt as though I had gone to tea with Agatha and she was telling me her life story over scones and jam.
Both, especially during both the wars.
This made my journey to and from work seem much shorter and I often wanted to stay sat in the car once the drive was over just to continue listening.
High up the list. Thoroughly enjoyed listening to this. Learned so much about the life of one of my favourite writers
Max Mallowan - her 2nd Husband. Had a tremendous influence on her life and clearly his interest in archeology awoke something in Agatha that influenced many of her novels.
Clearly read with passion and the right amount of inflection and emotion in the voice. She used different voices for different characters and to good effect. Full marks
The real woman behind Hercule Poirot
"A little bit of history!"
I would recommend this book because it gives an insight into Agatha's life and the time she lived in.
The details about people of that time.
Her childhood stories, they were so inspiring, and her very relaxed attitude to life, not taking anything too seriously and just enjoying and going with the flow of life.
An excellent listen, I really enjoyed this book and looked forward to playing it every time. The reader was generally good (it could have been Agatha reading it), however at times the childish voice came about when it was unnecessary.
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