The Mystery of Mrs. Christie by Marie Benedict (Goodreads Author)
Amy Caudill‘s review
During the winter of 1926, famed author Agatha Christie disappeared for eleven days. Mrs. Christie was subsequently found, but claimed amnesia of the circumstances of her disappearance once she was recovered. The mystery of these happenings was never solved. Marie Benedict is not the first to write about the real-life mystery surrounding the life of the author, but she makes a very compelling case in an historical fiction version of events.
I’ll admit that when reading the prologue and first few chapters of this story I wasn’t entirely sure who was the narrator, only that we were seeing the intimate thoughts of one of the parties involved, as well as a letter and instructions from one of the other main parties. After a few chapters, the narrator became clear, and this revelation added to the drama already ensued.
Part one, which takes up three quarters of the book, alternates between each chapter with the point of view of Dame Agatha herself, and that of her first husband, Archibald Christie. In the Agatha chapters, which take place in the past of the main storyline, we catch a brief glimpse of the author’s childhood and youth, followed by Archibald’s courtship of her and their married life. In the Archibald chapters, which take place in the “present,” we see the events of the disappearance itself, along with the reactions of family and the public to the author’s disappearance.
The second part of the story is told completely in Agatha’s point of view, and details the events of her recovery and the consequences of her, and others’ actions. This part of the story delves heavily into speculation on the part of author Benedict, but oh what a story she weaves.
Benedict’s Agatha Christie is the epitome of a strong female character. She has suffered emotional neglect and betrayal at her husband’s hands, but reacts by literally becoming the heroine in her own story. She “takes control of the narrative of her life” in order not to become the villain to her daughter. In a time period when divorce and single mothers were frowned upon, she ensures that she has the most favorable outcome for herself and her daughter. She engineers events so that her husband will be forced to admit his guilt, and thus accept the blame for their divorce, so her reputation does not suffer.
I loved this book. The author clearly did a vast amount of research into the Christies’ history, and told a very convincing story of the true events. While we may never know if some of her theories and conclusions are real, the reader cannot help but wonder and perhaps hope that this is the way it happened. I give this story five stars, and recommend it to fans of mysteries, especially those of Agatha Christie, and those of historical fiction and romances.