Book Review

The Christie Affair by Nina de Gramont

In 1926, Agatha Christie disappeared for 11 days. Only I know the truth of her disappearance.

I’m no Hercule Poirot.

I’m her husband’s mistress.

Agatha Christie’s world is one of glamorous society parties, country house weekends, and growing literary fame.

Nan O’Dea’s world is something very different. Her attempts to escape a tough London upbringing during the Great War led to a life in Ireland marred by a hidden tragedy.

After fighting her way back to England, she’s set her sights on Agatha. Because Agatha Christie has something Nan wants. And it’s not just her husband.

Despite their differences, the two women will become the most unlikely of allies. And during the mysterious eleven days that Agatha goes missing, they will unravel a dark secret that only Nan holds the key to…

The Christie Affair is a stunning novel which reimagines the unexplained eleven-day disappearance of Agatha Christie in 1926 that captivated the world.

I won’t claim to be a huge fan of Agatha Christie.  I’ve read some of her work – novels and short stories both – and find her (unsurprisingly) to be very much of her time with some of the word choices and attitudes a little jarring when read in the present day.  She does write a good mystery, however – I have to give her that.  While her work is a little hit and miss for me personally, I was immediately intrigued by the idea of The Christie Affair when I was invited to read it via Netgalley.

During 1926, Agatha Christie disappeared for eleven days.  To my knowledge, there’s little known about this period – she disappeared, seemingly without a trace, and was discovered almost two weeks later in circumstances that I won’t spoil for you if you’re not familiar with the story. In The Christie Affair, Nina De Gramont provides us with a fictional account of that eleven day period – why she vanished, how she evaded detection, and what she did during that time.  The few known facts are successfully incorporated into the narrative and enhanced by the story woven around those real-life events. It works brilliantly as a novel, and I think that readers will love this whether they enjoy Christie’s work or know much about her as a person – no prior knowledge is assumed.  To be honest, having read this, it’s a little surprising that it hasn’t been done before now – it makes for an excellent novel.    

The Christie Affair is narrated by Nan O’Dea – a fictional individual based upon Archie’s (Agatha’s husband) mistress – and this works well to give the perspective of someone intimately involved in these events whilst still retaining a sense of mystery and without revealing too much too soon. That’s not to say that I liked Nan, however.  She is introduced to the reader as “the other woman” and while it takes two (Archie comes across poorly for his behaviour as well) I found it hard to sympathise with her, particularly at the outset of the novel.  We do learn more about the fictional Nan as the novel progresses, and it soon becomes apparent that she has led an incredibly hard life and experienced things that no one should have to go through.  Bu while I may have warmed to her to a degree, I don’t think that I can say that I liked her even as I came to understand her motives as portrayed here.

Agatha Christie is, of course, well known for her murder mysteries, but it still came as something of a surprise that The Christie Affair itself contains a mystery as well.  It’s an unexpected development in the novel, but one that works well to add a little something extra whilst also fitting in well with the themes and characters.  And as a mystery novel, it works brilliantly.  It’s a suitably complex puzzle that’s well thought out and one that will keep you guessing even as the information surrounding this mystery is gradually revealed.  I very much enjoyed this aspect of the novel. 

The Christie Affair successfully takes a famous individual and provides a fictional view of a part of her life. It is a work of fiction and doesn’t claim to be anything other than that, so readers looking for an explanation as to Agatha’s disappearance will have to keep on looking. Nor do I think that this is wholly plausible as an explanation – it relies a little too much on coincidence and convenience for that, but it works brilliantly as a novel. And the themes explored go beyond the obvious, looking at the impact of the First World War, love and marriage, class divisions, and highlighting how women were viewed and treated at the time.  An excellent novel and a fascinating portrayal of this popular author. 

The Christie Affair will be published by Mantle on 20 January in hardback, digital, and audio formats. Huge thanks to the publisher for inviting me to read The Christie Affair ahead of publication via Netgalley.

Disclaimer – I received a copy of this novel from the publisher.  This has in no way influenced my review.


    1. Thank you, Yesha! Yes – she did actually disappear for 11 days but refused to talk about it afterwards, I think claiming memory loss!

      1. Yes – and her checking into a hotel using the surname of her husband’s mistress makes me think she knew exactly what she was doing… I guess we’ll never know, but it’s fascinating!

    1. I wasn’t aware of The Mystery of Mrs. Christie, but it sounds interesting – thanks for highlighting!

      1. Thanks – just read your review. I think that The Christie Affair is more openly fictional, where as The Mystery of Mrs. Christie sought out a more plausible explanation for the disappearance?

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