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Absent in the Spring

4.15  ·  Rating details ·  11,059 ratings  ·  305 reviews
Returning from a visit to her daughter in Iraq, Joan Scudamore finds herself unexpectedly alone and stranded in an isolated rest house by flooding of the railway tracks. This sudden solitude compels Joan to assess her life for the first time ever and face up to many of the truths about herself. Looking back over the years, Joan painfully re-examines her attitudes, relation ...more
Paperback, 190 pages
Published 1997 by HarperCollins (first published August 1944)
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Average rating 4.15  · 
Rating details
 ·  11,059 ratings  ·  305 reviews

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Aug 01, 2011 rated it really liked it
This book made me profoundly uncomfortable, which I believe was the whole point of it. Pick it up when you're in the mood for some self-reflection. It certainly made me want to be a kinder, more loving person & caused me to wonder, uneasily, how my actions and motives might appear to others.
Jul 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It had been quite easy to fill her life with unimportant trivialities that left her no time for self-knowledge.
Astounding and tragic and painful to read.
‘ He thought, You are alone and you always will be. But, please God, you’ll never know it.’
The astute story of self deception, complacency,, self satisfaction, judgement, blinkered delusion and the most awful of all, the choice not to act once the veil is lifted.
I love a good Agatha Christie mystery but this book is in a diffe
Aug 30, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: reviewed
"Joan felt a little gentle glow as she turned away from her image in the glass. She thought, Well, it’s nice to feel one’s been a success at one’s job. I never wanted a career, or anything of that kind. I was quite content to be a wife and mother. I married the man I loved, and he’s been a success at his job – and perhaps that’s owing to me a bit too. One can do so much by influence."

Absent in the Spring is the book that Agatha Christie describes as her favourite piece of work - not becau
Jul 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Most people have heard of Agatha Christie and her murder mysteries. However, the six novels she penned under the name of Mary Westmacott are relatively unknown.

Unlike her other works, this story does not feature any crime but instead a middle-aged woman stuck in an isolated rest house in the desert for days, waiting for a train to take her back to civilisation. With nothing to do, Joan Scudamore ends up assessing her life and facing some unpalatable truths. Sounds less than thrilling, and yet..
May 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favourites
Agatha Christie wrote six crime of the heart novels under the pseudonym Mary Westmacott. Absent in the Spring is considered by many to be one of her quiet masterpiece novels. Joan Scudmore has it all; she looks good for her age, has a handsome husband with happy children, a respectable house and a good name, but when she is stuck at a desert outpost on the way back to England she is forced to retrace the past. As the past unravels, Joan feels the cracks in her life reveal themselves till she rea ...more
Apr 11, 2010 rated it really liked it
Having read so many Agatha Christie novels - I have not (untill now) read any of the Mary Westmacott books. I know from a biography I read recently that they are quite different, not featuring detectives and murders. Her Mary Westmacott novels (of which I believe there are 6) are about crimes of the heart. This one Absent in the spring, I found really good indeed. Middle aged Joan Scudamore is totally isolated, while stranded in a rest house in Iraq, her lonlieness playing on her mind, allows he ...more
Jun 04, 2014 rated it really liked it
This book was a little disturbing for me. It's about a rather smug woman who has to spend a few days at an isolated middle east desert outpost while waiting for a train, with no one to talk to and nothing to do. She starts reminiscing, and has something of a brief mental breakdown when coming to some conclusions about her life. Much of the writing is stream-of-consciousness style in this short book, easy to read, but powerful in it's effect.

In another review on goodreads, one reader
Jul 25, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A fascinating portrait of a remarkably unobservant and unaware woman, Joan Scudamore. Christie, as Westmacott, takes us into Joan’s mind as she waits for a train in the desert, on her way back home to England. We hear Joan’s thoughts about her husband, her three children, her marriage, raising the children, and a little about people in their lives. While Joan states her views on these people and what a good wife and mother she is and marriage she has, it becomes rapidly clear that the people aro ...more
Jun 30, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Agatha Christie said that Absent in the spring was the most personal book she published. – Extract from her biography: “Shortly after that, I wrote the one book that has satisfied me completely. It was a new Mary Westmacott, the book that I had always wanted to write, that had been clear in my mind. It was the picture of a woman with a complete image of herself, of what she was, but about which she was completely mistaken.”
I wonder if that is how she felt about her first marriage. If she t
If you had nothing but yourself to think about what would you find out about yourself?

From 1944, this is the third of six novels Agatha Christie published under the alias Mary Westmacott. Instead of a murder mystery, it’s an elegant character study that reminded me most of The Enchanted April and The Rector’s Daughter. Joan Scudamore, traveling back to London from Baghdad after a visit to her grown daughter, encounters bad weather and misses her train, which leaves her stranded in the desert for a few days th
Mar 28, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: inspirational
This novel has made me introspective. The main character is a smug woman who has detached herself from the realities in her life because she just doesn't want to deal with it.

Dame Agatha Christie, writing as Mary Westmacott, masterfully follows the unfolding of Joan Scudamore's self realization. Joan is stranded at a desert way station while on her way back from visiting her daughter in Baghdad. She runs out of reading materials, and has no diversions whatsoever, and thus is forced t
Trudy Pomerantz
Dec 24, 2014 rated it it was amazing
In my view, this is the best and most personally challenging book that Agatha Christie wrote. Definitely a book worth reading several times and doing some self-examination.

“Shortly after that, I wrote the one book that has satisfied me completely. It was a new Mary Westmacott, the book that I had always wanted to write, that had been clear in my mind. It was the picture of a woman with a complete image of herself, of what she was, but about which she was completely mistaken. Through
Apr 27, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: obsessive-reads
Are you who you think you are? This book delves into the life of Joan Scudmore who takes the time to rethink her life. She uncovers unfortunate truths about her perfect life and her own belief of her all-knowing perfection. This was an unsettling book when applied to my own life. Who am I, as others see me? Am I who I think I am?

A marvelous work of fiction from Agatha Christie. Prepare to have your life put under the microscope.
Jul 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A haunting tale that makes you think and question
Vikas Singh
Jan 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned-book
This has been written by Agatha in a completely different genre and style. The plot is quite intense and as a reader you are stuck by the writer’s brilliance in being able to capture the insecurities of the protagonist so well. And in the end she succeeds in establishing the contrast so well. Brilliant read

Jun 16, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A completely different Agatha Christie novel. I had no idea she wrote under a pseudonym, even grittier slice of life stories. A little Alan Bennet, a little Flannery O'Conner. A dash of Wallace Stegner, Nancy Mitford, and Muriel Spark.

This was complicated, witty, twisty and suspenseful in ways that had nothing to do with crime.
Lady Delacour
What a clever way to tell a story.
Glad I knew nothing about the
the book as I started listening.
Not as enjoyable listening with a
a text to speech app but,
still entertaining.
Clean except for a few foul words.
Richa Bhattarai
Jan 19, 2019 rated it liked it
It’s slow and very, very different from Agatha Christie mysteries. But the way it leaves you feeling ! As if it’s seen into you and your psychology. The change in the protagonist’s mind, and her ultimate behavior, so cleverly done !
Apr 25, 2009 rated it really liked it
Very unexpectedly good. Agatha Christie writing as Mary Westmacott.

Nothing actually happens in this book; it's all about self-discovery:

A woman races off from England to the Middle East to help her ailing daughter, and along the way there and back learns about herself. She learns that she is controlling. That she controls others. That she controls herself. That others in her life are not happy. That she is not happy. Sounds dreadful, but somehow it all ties together and I
DNF. Agatha Christie should stick to mysteries. Absent in the Spring by Mary Westmacott consists of this British woman who has been out to visit her daughter and family in Baghdad. On her way home she is stuck at a rest stop for days with nothing to do but think about her life, a very boring, self righteous, self centered life. I couldn't take anymore of Joan thinking about Joan. I kept hoping that the book would end but I finally just ended it.
Aug 20, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: classic
I'm not sure what to think of this book. Only that I didn't really enjoy reading it. It was an interesting idea, a woman having to come to terms with herself, but the execution was lackluster. It just seemed to drone on and on and on with no redemption in sight. And once we do, it's gone in the blink of an eye. Wish I loved Agatha Christie as Mary Westmacott, but it seems that this other side of her is unknown for somewhat of a reason.
Mar 21, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2016
Agatha knows how to write and I find her writing style in this novel very therapeutic and soothing. The words just flow freely and connect with each other creating a very balanced story. What I liked the most about Absent in the Spring is what an amazing job the author did at making the reader doubt about who is telling the truth. Well done!
Jul 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
It’s always surprising when you find a masterpiece of writing. I read it in one day, a short 250pages but it was totally fascinating.
What happens when you have 5 days alone with nothing to do, and nothing to read and no one to talk to? Sounds scary and boring, well it wasn’t boring, Joan is endlessly entertaining, loved the characters, loved the subtle discoveries in Joan’s life. A truly amazing example of great writing.
Nancy Yousry Ammar
Jan 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The fact that Agatha Christie wrote "crime of the heart" novels under the pseudonym Mary Westmacott was entirely novel to me. And boy, is it a rollercoaster that captures very real, authentic and relatable human emotions. Have to say, it helps if you are in a self-examining state of mind.

Absent in the Spring is about Joan Scudamore, a middle-class woman who, on her way back from visiting her ill daughter in Iraq, gets stuck in a resthouse in the desert due to severe weather condition
Jul 17, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
2.5 stars!
Oct 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
Brilliant & chilling
Sheetal Dash
Aug 18, 2014 rated it really liked it
Wow. I listened to this book in a period of a few days while commuting, and couldn't take my mind off it after listening to a little bit each day. I was looking forward to hearing more each day. Although the book isn't a happy story, it is written in a way that makes you wonder what will be revealed next. The main character, Joan, is reflecting on conversations she's had during the course of her life, and it is quite a psychological study. Joan is ignorant about the unhappiness she's created for ...more
Aug 07, 2010 rated it liked it
Agatha Christie we all know as the queen of mystery novels. However, the more unknown fact about her is that she wrote 6 novels on love and relationships under the pseudonym - Mary Westmacott. By that time, her reputation as a crime fiction writer was growing and both, the publishers and perhaps even Agatha didn't want to tamper with her set 'persona'. And hence, she took on a different name under which she published these books.

Absent In The Spring tells the story of a smug surburban housewife, J/>Absent
Jun 18, 2012 rated it really liked it
Second in the anthology. Really, really, really excellent. It's the account of a woman who gets stuck somewhere during travel (the equivalent of a layover extended on account of bad weather, except that it's trains, not airplanes) who is given the opportunity for extended self-reflection. You see her flaws and her good points and get to hang out and see if she learns to see her flaws as well and what she chooses to do about it on her return home.

I found it absolutely gripping even th
Aug 02, 2009 rated it really liked it
This is a very good "straight" novel by the classic mystery writer. Those who maintain Christie is one of the best writers of the twentieth-century will find more evidence to back up their estimation in this trenchant portrait of a shallow woman suddenly forced to face herself. The story does degenerate somewhat towards the end, exhibiting a bit of the triteness of the typical romance novel (which is how it's sometimes classified), but the first two-thirds or so is a superbly told journey of sel ...more
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