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Agatha Christie: A Mysterious Life

really liked it 4.00  ·  Rating details ·  2,021 ratings  ·  163 reviews
It has been one hundred years since Agatha Christie wrote her first novel and created the formidable Hercule Poirot.  A brilliant and award winning biographer, Laura Thompson now turns her sharp eye to Agatha Christie. Arguably the greatest crime writer in the world, Christie's books still sell over four million copies each year—more than thirty years after her death—and i ...more
Hardcover, 544 pages
Published March 6th 2018 by Pegasus Books (first published 2007)
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Obsidian
May 07, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This book was all over the place for me. It was also repetitive as anything, if you want to read countless comments made about how Christie was beautiful once, got fat, and also left her first husband alone too much (i.e. it's her fault he had an affair and left her) well then this book is for you.

Thompson does tell Christie's life story from beginning (birth) to end (death). However, there seems to be a wall between Thompson and the reader. I wanted to know more about Christie, not Thompson's r
...more
Melindam
Well, this book was a total letdown, a biography absolutely unworthy of Agatha Christie. The style was annoying & pretentious and gave me the feeling that this book was a phoney, which I hate!!!!

We are told that the author had unique access to A.C.'s correspondence & other personal family papers. All the worse for her, because clearly she couldn't rise to the occasion and wasted her chances.

The book is jerky, rambles all over the place without agenda & structure, the author goes on about stuff i
...more
Stringy
Feb 18, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I was disappointed by this biography, which I picked up at the Border's closing sale. Thompson is very defensive of Christie, as if fans of her novels couldn't handle anything less than perfection. I'd rather have an honest, warts-and-all look at someone's life than a hagiography.

And with 'unique access to her diaries, letters and family', I expected to see more of Christie's own opinions. Instead, the quotes from primary sources were bland while the author supported her opinions with quotes fro
...more
Charlotte Langstroth
You should read this if you're (yet another bookstagrammer) already very familiar with Agatha and her work and want to know as much as you can get to know about her - this biography is cleverly written and is incredibly detailed with almost all life events being relayed back and quoted with reference to either a Christie or a Westmacott novel. I have saved quite a few Marples/Poirots that I haven't read yet and I'm glad it is that way or else I would have had to have gone out and bought some - t ...more
Rebecca
This is a problematic book. It has its good points, and some very negative. But let's start with the positive. The book is incredibly well researched, if there is anything you ever wanted to know you will find it here. You will find a whole lot of information you didn't even know you wanted to know. And Laura Thompson clearly loves her subject, she loves to write this book and it is very evident throughout it. No, throughout most of the book. She loves the subject and she loves the writer Christ ...more
Eva
I don't understand why this book has over 4 stars average. I found it disappointing. The author continuously uses quotes from Christies (fictional) books to prove how Christie thought about things. But it never becomes clear why writer Laura Thompson thinks those quotes express Christies personal thoughts instead of those uttered by the fictional characters in the book. It annoyed me so, that I couldn't finish it. I rather try another biography.
Mary Beth
Agatha Christie was a fascinating woman. That fact is completely lost in this biography which tangents all over the map and has too many references to her novels which is completely distracting to her life story. Sorry, but this book needs a good editor.
Melania 🍒
Nov 26, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
3,45/5

Rather problematic
Jane
Mar 07, 2018 marked it as to-read
This appears to be a re-issue of the 2007 book, which was also republished in 2013. It's being reviewed in the press as if it's a new book, with no indication of whether it's exactly the same as the earlier versions or substantially updated. I bought the £0.99 2013 Kindle version on the assumption that this was just a case of selling the rights and republishing...which I have no problem with! Authors, agents, and publishers gotta eat, and that £20+ hardcover will no doubt sell well in the stores ...more
Marc
Jun 10, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biographies
I would like to give this a higher rating but, although it is very well researched, it felt like work to read it! It covers Agatha Christie's life in a fairly non-linear fashion and seems to assume that the reader has very comprehensive knowledge of all of Christie's novels/plays. I also think the author's own personal feelings about Agatha Christie were presented as fact versus her opinion or belief. She had a tendency to glean a great deal about Christie's true feelings from the novels she wro ...more
Becky Loader
Apr 29, 2018 rated it it was ok
I was disappointed. I was hoping for a more in-depth look at Christie herself. The author really focuses on Christie's books and stories and which character depicts which person in her life. Too much analysis of writing and too little biographical information.
Niki
Mar 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
one of the best bioraphy of Christie I've read
J.R.
Apr 14, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have to admit at the start I'm not an especial Christie fan, and I've generally found Poirot more of an annoyance than a pleasure.
If I have a particular favorite of her characters I'd have to say Miss Marple (though I think her less developed than she might have been), preferring those stories and even some of the films (despite Christie's dissatisfaction with most and the fact they seldom portray her as well as do the books).
Still, no one who writes can fail to be intrigued by Agatha Christie
...more
Robin
Dec 15, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Laura Thompson's Agatha Christie is an excellent accompaniment to reading John Curran's The Secret Notebooks. I read them in close succession and found their perspective and perceptive commentary on Agatha Christie and her novels markedly enhanced my current re-reading of her work. While Curran's work concentrates on Christie's development of the novels and short stories, Thompson goes to the heart of her work: Christie's life and character.

I particularly liked the way Thompson dealt with the 1
...more
Lily
Apr 15, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: library, biography
I somewhat enjoyed reading the story of Agatha Christie, who was published under different names like Mary Westmacott. Sometimes, it became tedious trying to get through the narrative of this biography, due to Laura Thompson constantly referring to and quoting from Agatha Chrisitie's published books. I understand that in so doing, the author was trying to give insights into Agatha's life--revealing that most of her characters and stories were based on the subject's own life and experiences. At ...more
Lorna
May 05, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
I really enjoyed this book. Although I have read quite a few biographies sometimes I find them hard to get into because they're more or less set out like a timeline of the person's life. Although of course this book does more or less the same thing it is written in more of a literary fashion, which as a reader of mainly fiction I found easier to read. I especially like the way that she handles the 10 days when Agatha went missing, coming up with her most plausible scenario of what she thinks mig ...more
Cheryl
Jul 28, 2018 rated it it was ok
As someone who had read many of her books, I was interested in this biography. She did live a very interesting life. Major caveat, though, this author, Thompson, seems oblivious to her own and Christie's racism. It was the norm for her class at the time, so it's not surprising. What is surprising is that a book published in 2018 would nonchalantly use the original title of Ten Little Indians (Ten Little N-----) without any reluctance and say, "after all it was just a nursery rhyme." A RACIST nur ...more
Christina Dongowski
Very well written & generous towards its subject. I find Thompson treatment of Christie’s ten days absence really clever, even though I usually don”t like biographers getting into the head of the biographed person. But here, I think, it’s well done and framed as a fictionalisation, Thompson as a crime writer herself. As a fictional account, Thompson’s theory about the absence doesn’t have to take sides for the numerous theories that still go around. She leaves it to the reader what to make of it ...more
Tami
Reading this was quite an undertaking! No one can accuse author Laura Thompson of not doing her research. While I learned much about Agatha Christie’s life that I did not know, I think the chapter about her disappearance was the most interesting. How ironic that even today, there is still somewhat of a mystery about the details of that disappearance.

The book covers Agatha’s life from childhood to death. Her contribution to plays, poems and other literature was prolific and Thompson made much use
...more
Kirstin Dobson
Mar 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
A good read-- it is very detailed and long, though. I still thoroughly enjoyed it, mostly, but I adore Agatha Christie as an author, especially her Poirot and Ms. Marple books. I also have read a lot of her stories which really helps, if it is not neccessary to like this book. The book ties Christie and her life's events together to her writings pretty much the entire time. My only complaint about the book is its rambling on and on and on about the same point, even if it was with a new twist. He ...more
Brian's Bookshelves
An in depth biography of Christie using her books, notebooks, and letters.
This book goes into a lot of detail about her early life, her first marriage but it is the Chapter on her disappearance is the highlight of the book.
Thompson is cold and not afraid to criticize at times.
An interesting biography for fans of Christie.
A very interesting biogrsphy
Ghost of the Library
I have yet to meet a human being who hasnt, at some point in his/her life, enjoyed the works of Agatha Christie in some way shape or form - a thousand thank yous to the wonderful David Suchet and all other actors and actresses that have brought to life her characters (and herself) time and again!
That being said, i have my serious doubts that Laura Thompson actually likes Dame Agatha at all after having read this one, because this is the most boring book on such a fascinating woman as Agatha, tha
...more
Luna
Apr 20, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
Dnf at 30% what a waste of resources . Agatha's autobiography is a masterpiece and this book oftentimes quotes from that and also from Agatha's novels that reflect her life. Is the author quote tweeting?


* I received an e-ARC
Joan Colby
Sep 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
In this oddly written biography, Thompson employs a technique of comparing events in Agatha’s life to incidents in her many books especially the romances written as Mary Westmacott. This makes, at time, a choppy read so that previous familiarity with Christie’s life is almost demanded. A large section concentrates on the famed disappearance of Agatha after discovering her husband Archie’s infidelity. A nation-wide search for the author took place before she was discovered at a hotel where she ha ...more
Kate Ashley
Aug 15, 2018 rated it liked it
Ultimately unsatisfying. It might better be described a fictionalized biography or an imagining of Agatha Christie’s emotional climate. Author is so defensive of her subject (AC wasn’t racist and anti-Semitic. She just used slurs because... ?) and bizarrely preoccupied by AC’s “loss of her looks” (aka she gained weight). The work is incomprehensibly repetitive. Worst of all - for this reader - she uses Agatha Christie’s writing to bolster her psychologizing of her subject. i.e. Agatha clearly fe ...more
Sarah
This is a very good and extremely readable biography. I might actually have given it another half star since I did enjoy it quite a lot, but I was a little offended by how snarky and repetitive the author was about Christie's looks. I'm as shallow as the next person, but having it reiterated, ad nauseum, how fat and unattractive a woman was came off to me as both annoying and more than a little sexist (I can't see a bio of, say, Hemingway concentrating quite so much on how fuckable he was). But ...more
Sheri
Sep 06, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Laura Thompson's hefty and well-researched biography of Agatha Christie focuses largely on a psychological study of Agatha and her relationships - rather like Poirot, she is interested in "the psychology of the individual". She also mounts a vigorous defence of Christie's work against those who have sought to diminish and misrepresent it (while acknowledging that it does, at times, vary in quality).

Thompson has had access to a lot of material and her book draws heavily not only on Agatha's lette
...more
Cozy Cat Reviews
Jun 28, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The author has done a extraordinary amount of research for this book. I appreciated the fact she was so diligent and provided the reader with such outstanding research. This is a good book for all Christie lovers to read as it includes more information about her writing then I have found in other books.
However many liberties were taken about Christie as a person, with her husband and child and her personality. I did not find that part of the book interesting or accurate. it seemed to build up C
...more
Andrea
May 21, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: biography
This was an accurate and beautifully written biography but the writer seems to have some kind of ideological axe to grind. The constant glowing references to Christie's alleged social conservatism just got tiresome. Clearly in some cases the writer was speculating and I almost felt like Thompson was preaching to me. I'm a huge fan of Christie's fiction mainly because she avoids the kind of moral simplicity Thompson seems to enjoy. Also, while fiction may be semi-autobiographical, I think it is u ...more
Karen M
Mar 01, 2019 rated it liked it
The author did some interesting comparisons between what Dame Agatha wrote and her personal life that I found interesting. On the whole this was a very dry read and perhaps only truly interesting to someone who is a fan of Agatha Christie.
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Laura Thompson writes about life - and is unapologetic in what she captures. She is a sexual assault survivor, has navigated near death traumas with her daughters' medical issues, and possesses the ability to capture what is true, honest, a
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