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The Mystery of Mrs. Christie

by Marie Benedict

The Mystery of Mrs. Christie by Marie Benedict X
The Mystery of Mrs. Christie by Marie Benedict
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    Dec 2020, 288 pages

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There are currently 25 reader reviews for The Mystery of Mrs. Christie
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Dianne S. (Green Valley, AZ)

Agatha Christie: Missing Person?
The tale of Agatha Christie's 11 day disappearance is one I have read about before and have even seen a movie about. Marie Benedict brings the story to life from a whole new perspective, or at least new to me.

The story is told from several points of view. The courtship of Archie and Agatha, Agatha life leading up to the disappearance and that of Archie left behind to fend for or defend himself.

It is said that Agatha never spoke of the disappearance during her lifetime, but there are certain clues, if you will, that seem to appear in all accounts. Marie Benedict uses these known fact to tell her story.

As in other historical fiction books such as The Aviator's Wife by Melanie Benjamin and the Paris Wife by Paula McLain, the husband's reputation doesn't fair well by the book's end. Archie Christie is depicted as having had designs on Agatha when she was young, winning her over and then discarding her when he was ready to move on. Upon Agatha's realization this had been the course of her life, she puts a positive spin on the fact that she would not be who she is and achieved all she had if she hadn't had to go down this path.

I recommend this to all who enjoy historical fiction.
Liz B. (Fairview, TX)

A Good Mystery
This is a gripping piece of historical fiction, imagining what might have transpired during the real-life disappearance of Agatha Christie. The story was well developed, although I had trouble aligning the two very different personalities of Mrs. Christie, as told from the points of view of herself and her husband, Archie. An interesting story that I knew nothing about prior to reading the novel. Book clubs will enjoy discussing the "what ifs" that inevitably crop up throughout the book.
Dawn Z. (Canton, MI)

Recommended for fans of Agatha Christie
By the time I enrolled in college, I had read all of Agatha Christie's books. I loved them. This book, a fictional look at a real event in Agatha Christie's life, was quite good. The author wrote the story in a way that was as interesting as a "real" Agatha Christie and offered a believable backstory to her disappearance.
Paula Jacunski

The mystery of Mrs. Christie
Very good book. Benedict effectively bounces from Agatha's meeting and courtship with Christie to their marriage, birth of their daughter and their life together. It's a believable story of the disappearance of Mrs. Christie. The only thing keeping me from a 5 star rating is that some aspects of the disappearance seemed to fit together too neatly. I'll be reading more from this author.
Barbara B. (Evansville, IN)

Positive Spin on Agatha Christie
Marie Benedict has crafted a very good fictional explanation for the brief disappearance of mystery writer Agatha Christie. Both characters, Agatha and Archie Christie, are fully created in their personalities and their lifestyles. The book alternates chapters, told from both husband and wife point-of-views for most of the novel. Archie is quite villainous in character, while Agatha emerges as a strong, self-sufficient woman despite her cheating, loathsome husband. I almost felt like a marriage counselor, trying to mediate their quarrels.
Rebecca H. (Bolton, CT)

The Mystery of Mrs. Christie
Benedict's novel is an interesting fictionalized take on the well-known disappearance of the mystery writer Agatha Christie in 1926 when her whereabouts were unknown for eleven days. Her car was found abandoned with a bag of clothes inside. Although it was unknown to the press at the time, Mrs. Christie's husband had just told her that he wanted a divorce in order to marry his mistress. Her vanishing caused a sensation in newspapers all across England, the police and public wondering if she had become a victim of foul play in the style of one of her own novels.

The author has organized the story using alternating dual timelines, one encompassing the early years of Christie's romance, marriage, and writing career, and the other the eleven days following her disappearance. The former timeline chapters tell the story from Mrs. Christie's point of view, and the latter from the viewpoint of her husband, Archie. For the reader, this makes an interesting juxtaposition between two different interpretations of events. The circumstances, attitudes, and emotions which motivate the actions of the characters are well-developed in the chapters dealing with the earlier time frame and the novelist's imagination fills in the gaps in what is known about the real-life events.
I thoroughly enjoyed the story, and I think the dual-timeline approach works well for the most part. The pace moves along well and the characters are believable and well-drawn. There is some dialogue that doesn't quite ring true for me in terms of the speech of that particular social class during that time period in England, but this problem may be addressed in the final edition of the book.
All in all, I'd rate the novel as an enjoyable story well worth reading.
Juliana (Falls Church, VA)

A Fresh Take
It is the first novel by Marie Benedict that I read and the first time I learn about the incident inspiring this story. If you are anything like me, you go about trying to learn some of the facts behind this true event, read about other explorations of the topic, are surprised at the coverage it has had and then ask yourself what could be a new take on it. (But you don't have to, of course, the novel stands on its own as is.) Then, Marie Benedict's proves to be a commendable, valiant one which does not disappoint.

Marie Benedict chooses the intriguing event of the real-life disappearance of the Dame of detective fiction, Agatha Christie, and undertakes to recreate the circumstances, players and motivations that may explain it, putting Christie's first marriage front and center.

The novelist builds an ingenious narrative structure in which two stories with different chronologies alternate up to the point where they catch up with each other, which coincides with the climax of the story. Very much in the style of Agatha Christie's writings and well justified by the construction of her narrative and the mystery elements it incorporates, Marie Benedict's ends up with a surprising revelation.
Although the revelation seems to spell out the characters' motivations too explicitly, it is true, under the pretext that the characters they were disclosed to were not capable of connecting the dots, and although some points of characterization seem to be drilled ad nauseum, attempted as they were at underlining the source of conflict and the narrators' unreliability, Marie Benedict pulls together a convincing, enticing narrative. All the while she pens a coherent vision of the times, in this case of the British upper middle class of the 1920s with its social conventions and expectations, which is always an essential part of what any reader of historical fiction hopes for.

Once you realize you have to read through to untangle the very cryptic beginning and position the multitude of characters introduced in the first two chapters, the read becomes captivating and it is hard to put down. The characters flesh out vividly, intriguingly, and just before it is too late to save Agatha from a rather conventional, boring portrait, she emerges … well, differently, and the narrative techniques chosen by the author are instrumental in achieving that.

The Mystery of Mrs. Christie is an enjoyable, fast read, satisfying the craving for the unexpected, which anything related to the name of Agatha Christie inevitably stirs. Recommended to lovers of the genres and anyone with a few good hours to spend on an engaging read.
Power Reviewer
Becky H

I hate timeline jumps
Agatha Christie, renowned writer of mysteries, disappeared for 11 days in 1926. Although a country wide search was made, no one was able to find her until she turned up on day eleven claiming amnesia. What REALLY happened – no one knows. Marie Benedict makes an interesting and entirely fictional novel of the mystery. The result is a good yarn that Agatha herself would approve.
My complaint - and it is a huge one – is the two different, and interwoven, timelines. I would just get involved in one timeline and the other would pop up with a different narrator and jump back or forward in time. When I finished the book, I knew why the author chose this conceit. However, there have been entirely too many novels recently with the same “jump around” timeline. It is annoying. Please stop.
The characters are well developed. The plot is clever. The inclusion of true events lends credence to the tale. But still…. Those annoying time leaps.
Book groups will have a field day trying to suss out the real story in their discussion.

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