14 January 2023

Review: AGATHA CHRISTIE: A Very Elusive Woman, Lucy Worsley

  • This edition published By Hodder & Stoughton, Great Britain 2022
  • ISBN 978-1-528-30388-9
  • 415 pages

Synopsis (publisher

Nobody in the world was more inadequate to act the heroine than I was.'

Why did Agatha Christie spend her career pretending that she was 'just' an ordinary housewife, when clearly she wasn't? As Lucy Worsley says, 'She was thrillingly, scintillatingly modern'. She went surfing in Hawaii, she loved fast cars, and she was intrigued by the new science of psychology, which helped her through devastating mental illness.

So why - despite all the evidence to the contrary - did Agatha present herself as a retiring Edwardian lady of leisure?

She was born in 1890 into a world which had its own rules about what women could and couldn't do. Lucy Worsley's biography is not just of an internationally renowned bestselling writer. It's also the story of a person who, despite the obstacles of class and gender, became an astonishingly successful working woman.

With access to personal letters and papers that have rarely been seen, Lucy Worsley's biography is both authoritative and entertaining and makes us realise what an extraordinary pioneer Agatha Christie was - truly a woman who wrote the twentieth century. 

My Take

An impressive non-fiction work that covers Agatha Christie's whole life, written by a person who is quite obviously a "fan", well versed in the events of Christie's life and the books she has written.

I've also just watched, and can recommend, the first of the documentaries (4?) based on the book.

I was glad to see that Worsley shares some of my own impressions of the importance of Agatha Christie in crime fiction. She refers to some of Christie's plot strategies as Christie's "tricks" and refers to the way they made a difference to what we expect from crime fiction as a genre. The book has also sowed a few seeds that will influence my interpretation of the Christie novels that I intend reading this year.

My rating: 5.0

About the Author

Lucy Worsley OBE is Chief Curator at the charity Historic Royal Palaces and also presents history documentaries for the BBC. Her bestselling books include Queen Victoria, Jane Austen at Home, A Very British Murder, If Walls Could Talk: An Intimate History of the Home, Courtiers, Cavalier and four historical novels for young readers. In 2019 her BBC One programme Suffragettes with Lucy Worsley won a BAFTA. 


Mary R. said...

This is definitely going on my TBR!

Victoria said...

I have read and enjoyed the biography. I discovered things I didn't know about her life and work.


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