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Agatha Christie and the Eleven Missing Days
on 9 April 2017
Although this book is titled, “Agatha Christie and the Eleven Missing Days,” the author is unable to really create a great deal of suspense, or mystery, about the actual events of Agatha Christie’s disappearance in 1926. Therefore, what follows is really a biography which omits her very early life, and the way that those eleven days came to haunt Christie, who hated any mention of what happened around a time which was deeply upsetting and traumatic for her.
When Agatha Christie disappeared in December 1926, she had just published her sixth novel, “The Murder of Roger Ackroyd,” but was not yet a household name. Although her writing career was turning her into a rising star (one of the reasons why her disappearance was suggested as a publicity stunt), this was not a happy time for her. She should have been relishing success, but her beloved mother had recently died and her husband, Colonel Archibald Christie, had confessed that he was in love with another woman – Nancy Neele.
Christie had witnessed her parents lifelong, happy and contented marriage, and had assumed she would experience the same. She was desperately in love with Archie, but the two struggled financially and, when Agatha began to earn more than he did, it caused problems between them. Her success overshadowed his attempts to find a successful career and he taunted her, unkindly, about gaining weight after the birth of their daughter, Rosalind. Although Agatha tried to keep her marriage together, when she realised it was over, she drove away from their house and vanished for eleven days – causing a huge manhunt and press speculation which caused her huge distress.
In all honesty, it is hard to see this as more than the desperate attempt of a deeply hurt woman, who certainly did not expect the situation to get as out of hand as it did. I will state here that Agatha Christie is my favourite author ever and I found myself bizarrely wounded on her behalf, as I read so much of this book. Her daughter seemed often to be callous and uncaring about her; blaming her unfairly for the divorce of her parents, making hurtful remarks, and, even though she later found happiness again with Max Mallowan, this marriage was also not without its share of troubles.
This book is a rather straightforward account, but it does keep the theme of the book centre stage as much as possible; with books and stories dissected to reveal possible mentions of the disappearance, of the influence of people close to Agatha Christie as characters. Christie was certainly not a perfect person, but nobody is; she suffered agonies of jealousy, she was controlling at times (although she learnt from her mistakes), but she was also often taken for granted by her family, felt nervous about being photographed or interviewed and was obviously deeply hurt by the failure of her first marriage. I am glad I read this book and feel sure that Christie would be proud if she knew how her work has stood the test of time.