A gripping fictionalized account of the 11 days when the world’s greatest mystery writer went missing . . .
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"A long time ago, in another country, I nearly killed a woman."
So begins The Christie Affair, told from the point of view of Miss Nan O’Dea, a fictional character but based on someone real. In 1925, she infiltrated the wealthy, rarified world of author Agatha Christie and her husband, Archie. A world of London townhomes, country houses, shooting parties, and tennis matches. Nan O’Dea became Archie’s mistress, luring him away from his devoted wife. In every way, she became a part of their world—first, both Christies. Then, just Archie.
The question is, why?
And what did it have to do with the mysterious eleven days that Agatha Christie went missing?
The answer takes you back in time, to Ireland, to a young girl in love, to a time before The Great War. To a star-crossed couple who were destined to be together—until war and pandemic and shameful secrets tore them apart.
What makes a woman desperate enough to destroy another woman’s marriage? What makes someone vengeful enough to hatch a plot years in the making? What drives someone to murder?
These questions and more are explored in Nina de Gramont’s brilliant, unforgettable, lush, and powerful novel.
The Christie Affair
Here Lies Sister Mary
A long time ago in another country, I nearly killed a woman.
It’s a particular feeling, the urge to murder. First comes rage, larger than any you’ve ever imagined. It takes over your body so completely it’s like a divine force, grabbing hold of your will, your limbs, your psyche. It conveys a strength you never knew you possessed. Your hands, harmless until now, rise up to squeeze another person’s life away. There’s a joy to it. In retrospect it’s frightening, but I daresay in the moment it feels sweet, the way justice feels sweet.
Agatha Christie had a fascination with murder. But she was tenderhearted. She never wanted to kill anyone. Not for a moment. Not even me.
“Call me Agatha,” she always said, reaching out a slender hand. But I never would, not in those early days, no matter how many weekends I spent at one of her homes, no matter how many private moments we shared. The familiarity didn’t feel proper, though propriety was already waning in the years after the Great War. Agatha was upper-crust and elegant, but perfectly willing to dispense with manners and social mores. Whereas I had worked too hard to learn those manners and mores to ever abandon them easily.
I liked her. Back then I refused to think highly of her writing. But I always admitted to admiring her as a person. I still admire her. Recently, when I confided this to one of my sisters, she asked me if I had regrets about what I’d done, and how much pain it caused.
“Of course I do,” I told her without hesitation. Anyone who says I have no regrets is either a psychopath or a liar. I am neither of those things, simply adept at keeping secrets. In this way the first Mrs. Christie and the second are very much alike. We both know you can’t tell your own story without exposing someone else’s. Her whole life, Agatha refused to answer any questions about the eleven days she went missing, and it wasn’t only because she needed to protect herself.
I would have refused to answer, too, if anyone had thought to ask.
Why I love it
Author, The Woman with the Blue Star
Like many of you, I suspect, I have had a lifelong fondness for Agatha Christie mysteries. But I knew little of the woman who penned them—or the mystery of her own life. It was not until I read an early copy of The Christie Affair by Nina de Gramont that I learned of Ms. Christie’s mysterious eleven-day disappearance in the 1920s. I had so many questions: Where had she gone? Why? Who was behind her disappearance and what led to her return?
These mysteries are ably unfurled by de Gramont. Writing from the point of view of the mistress of Christie’s husband, we discover a woman with dark and complex motives of her own. Who was Nan O’Dea and why did she set out to destroy Christie? As de Gramont weaves a tale of enigmatic pasts and uncertain futures, she captivates readers with the compelling stories of not one, but two women.
This much-anticipated book manages to be both mystery and thriller, gripping fiction and chronicle of actual events. It is evocative of a bygone era and yet timeless. Readers will be captivated by this little-known story brought to life in a larger-than-life way.
I know you will love it as much as I did. Happy reading!
Member ratings (4,243)
Trigger warn-I love when an author weaves history into a powerful storyline, and this did a great job teaching about dark history in a humanizing and intelligent way. Another well written worthy read!
I love Agatha Christie so I was excited to read a fictional account of her missing days. I was quite surprised to find myself rooting for Nan in equal measure. Great story of an unexpected friendship!
Chesterfield , MO
This “imaginative history of sorts” is the best book I’ve read in a very long time. It’s a gift to “indulge yourself and close this book on a happy ending.” Fascinating and well written.
Even if fictional, I wanted to get to know Agatha and definitely enjoyed it. The characters who didn’t give proper respect to the lives of those around them infuriated me as much as in real life.
Such a beautiful book full of love stories! Lovers, parents, shared experiences - This book is all about the decisions one has to make because of that love. So well written but VERY fictional!