De Gramont (The Last September) offers an intriguing new theory of why Agatha Christie disappeared for 11 days in this superior thriller, which places the woman Christie’s husband, Archie, was having an affair with at the time—here the fictional Nan O’Dea—at its center. A gripping opening sentence teases O’Dea’s dark side (“A long time ago, in another country, I nearly killed a woman”). In December 1926, Archie decides to reveal the affair to his wife, to whom the news comes as no surprise. Agatha, however, is taken aback by her husband’s declaration that he is both leaving her and seeking a divorce. A day later, the world-famous mystery author vanishes, and her abandoned car is found near a body of water notorious for corpses being found in it, leading some to suspect the writer killed herself. Flashbacks flesh out the backstory of O’Dea, who at 19 was sent to a convent by the head of the family she was working for in Ireland after getting pregnant by his son. De Gramont treats O’Dea’s story with sympathy and care, highlighting the bleak circumstances for both women in the historical period and teasing out the motivations for breaking up the Christies’ marriage. This is an enjoyable reimagining of a scandal whose exact nature remains a puzzle a century later. (Feb.)
A Reese's Book Club Pick
"This story is all about murder and lies and love and discovery. I loved it so much. I could not put it down. I read it in one sitting." - Reese Witherspoon
The Washington Post's List of the Best Thrillers and Mysteries of 2022
A New York Times Bestseller
Goodreads Most Anticipated List 2022
One of the Wall Street Journal's "Best Books of 2022"
"Sizzles from its first sentence." - The Wall Street Journal
"The Christie Affair is an ingenious new psychological suspense novel... richly imagined; inventive and, occasionally, poignant; and about as true-to-life as Christie’s own tales." The Washington Post
"Historical kinda-fiction, a thriller wrapped in romance, mystery, and some fascinating conjecture." Goodreads
"Ingeniously plotted...gorgeously written" Shelf Awareness
"The story unfolds in a series of carefully placed vignettes you may find yourself reading and rereading, partly to get the details straight, partly to fully savor the well-turned phrases and the dry humor, partly so the book won't have to end, damn it. Devilishly clever, elegantly composed and structured—simply splendid." Kirkus (Starred Review)
"The author weaves a clever, highly original, mesmerizing tale filled with strange and unexpected turns and concludes it in an unexpected but wholly satisfying manner. With its superb writing, strong characterizations, and wonderfully imaginative plot, this is a must-read." Booklist (Starred Review)
"A superior thriller...gripping." --Publishers Weekly
"A meta delight for fans of crime writing, The Christie Affair is a fictional murder mystery woven around the real-life disappearance of Agatha Christie. This enduring conundrum from 1926 is not so much fictionalized as creatively reimagined. Whether you know much about what happened then or not, you'll find this delicious whodunit totally irresistible." CrimeReads
"The Christie Affair deserves all the hype it's gotten... [It is De Gramont's] most mature and polished work to date, with rounded characters and a smooth-running, steel-trap plot that the author of "The Mousetrap" could admire. Actual historical detail — Sir Arthur Conan Doyle hiring a psychic to locate Agatha — are mixed with authorial invention into a smooth, tasty puree. Lovers of mystery, romance and literary fiction should be equally pleased." StarNews
"Refreshingly thoughtful and inventive." Airmail
"[The Christie Affair] unfolds as if it were one of Christie’s mysteries, rewarding the reader with the thrill of discovery over and over... And in true Agatha Christie fashion, when all is finally revealed and the full picture comes into focus, the result is unexpected, exhilarating, and enormously satisfying." —Seira Wilson, Amazon Editor
"An accomplished author, de Gramont takes a page from the great mystery writer herself and makes swift work of tying up loose ends as the story reaches its boiling point, leaving readers marvelously entertained and breathlessly connecting the dots." Shelf Awareness
"The Christie Affair is a genuine marvel. An astonishingly clever novel that manages to be both a deeply satisfying mystery and a profoundly moving story about lost love and the many ways in which grief can shape one's character. Full of unexpected twists and written in beautiful prose, The Christie Affair brilliantly answers a question that has haunted readers for years: What happened to Agatha Christie in the days she was missing? Nina de Gramont takes this thread of a story and weaves it into a rich and vibrant tapestry." Kristin Hannah, author of The Four Winds
"The Christie Affair is a pitch-perfect hat trick of a novel, delivering a fascinating glimpse into history, with the sensational and unexplained disappearance of Agatha Christie, a layered and completely satisfying murder mystery, and a moving, emotional rendering of love, loss, revenge and redemption—all with effortlessly stunning prose. I loved every page, and will be recommending this to everyone I know!" Paula McLain, author of The Paris Wife and When the Stars Go Dark
"This novel about the 11-day disappearance of Agatha Christie, told from the point of view of Christie’s husband’s mistress, is such a delight: intriguing, fast-paced, and elegantly written. Nina de Gramont takes you on an adventure through the English countryside with as many twists and turns as, well, an Agatha Christie novel. The unlikely alliances, complex motivations, and jaw-dropping surprises will keep you riveted until the very last page.” Christina Baker Kline, author of Orphan Train and The Exiles
“Dare I admit I haven’t read any Agatha Christie or know about her disappearance? I feared this might somehow diminish The Christie Affair for me. But Nina de Gramont’s skillful storytelling is exceeded only by her tenderness for her characters, and I was swept up, turning the pages and savoring them, too. This is a cracking good read!" Therese Fowler, author of A Good Neighborhood
"Immersive, reflexive and propulsive, The Christie Affair is an extremely impressive literary novel which reveals its hidden themes and secrets through a narrative dance brilliantly done. This tale of two very different women who want the very same things in life forges surprising bonds both with its characters and the reader, deliciously subverting our notions of what makes a heroine, mother, writer and wife." Natalie Jenner, author of The Jane Austen Society
"The Christie Affair is my favorite kind of story: a fresh take on a real-life event, layered with mystery and filled with breath-taking plot twists. Toss in the windswept English countryside and a tragic past, and I’m done for. Nina de Gramont’s novel shines on so many levels, it’s hard to keep count: as an ode to Agatha Christie’s legacy, as a dashing love story, and as a tribute to complicated, determined women. Magnificent."
Fiona Davis, author of The Lions of Fifth Avenue
"I read in a single sitting The Christie Affair by Nina de Gramont, who weaves a captivating tale around the real life disappearance of mystery writer Agatha Christie from the point of view of her husband’s lover. The story combines dark pasts, dangerous liaisons and unforeseen twists into a masterful work reminiscent of one of Christie’s enigmatic works. The Christie Affair is both enthralling and beguiling, and will keep readers guessing until the very last page." Pam Jenoff, author of The Lost Girl of Paris
"Rooted in fact and reason but charged throughout with emotion and imagination, this is an extraordinary murder mystery novel that dares to invoke the spirit of Dame Christie and succeeds. " CriminalElement
In her third adult novel (after The Last September), de Gramont tells the story of Agatha Christie's famous 11-day disappearance, from the point of view of her husband Colonel Christie's mistress, Nan O'Dea. In 1926, Agatha Christie went missing after her husband told her he wanted a divorce. As this story unfolds, the search for Agatha and the description of her time away are intertwined with Nan's life story, including her stay in an Irish home for single pregnant women run by nuns. In the fashionable spa town of Harrogate, Nan and Agatha meet up, and romances, secrets on all sides, long-held grudges, and a house dubbed the "Timeless Manor" result in a fascinating, if unlikely, explanation of what happened during those 11 days. De Gramont has done her research, resulting in a story that transports readers to early 20th-century Ireland and the English countryside. VERDICT True to the spirit of Christie, a surprising murder rounds out this tale; recommended for Christie fans and those who enjoyed Taylor Jenkins Reid's The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo.—Terry Lucas
A reimagining of Agatha Christie's famous 11-day disappearance, adding a murder mystery worthy of the dame herself.
The bare facts are here just as they happened. In December 1926, having announced his intention to divorce her so he could marry his mistress, Christie's husband took off to spend a weekend in the country. Sometime that night, Agatha left home, abandoning her car beside a nearby chalk quarry with a suitcase full of clothes inside. Eleven days later, after an internationally publicized manhunt, she turned up at a spa hotel in Harrogate, having signed in under the name of her husband's lover. Upon that frame of fact, de Gramont weaves brilliantly imagined storylines for both the mistress and the writer, converging at the spa hotel, where not one but two guests promptly turn up dead. The novel is narrated by the mistress, here called Nan O'Dea, a complicated woman with many secrets. As she announces in the first line of the novel, "A long time ago in another country, I nearly killed a woman." Nan is looking back at a time when she had larceny in mind, and it was Agatha's husband she was aiming to steal, though one has to wonder why. Archie comes across as a whiny baby of a man who has this to say about his plan to dump his devoted wife: "There's no making everybody happy….Somebody has got to be unhappy and I'm tired of it being me." Archie aside, de Gramont has a gift for creating dreamy male characters: Both a "rumpled" police inspector called Chilton, who's sent to the Harrogate area to look for the missing author, and a blue-eyed Irishman named Finbarr, who has a connection to Nan, are irresistible, and only more so due to the tragic toll taken on each by the war. De Gramont's Agatha—who walks away from her disabled vehicle forgetting her suitcase but not her typewriter—is also easy to love. The story unfolds in a series of carefully placed vignettes you may find yourself reading and rereading, partly to get the details straight, partly to fully savor the well-turned phrases and the dry humor, partly so the book won't have to end, damn it.
Devilishly clever, elegantly composed and structured—simply splendid.
De Gramont (The Last September) achieves an Agatha Christie—style mystery while masterfully weaving the story of the maven of who-dun-its together with that of Nan O'Dea, a girl from London's East End to explain the 11 days Christie disappeared from the world. Narrator Lucy Scott shifts through many accents, fairly seamlessly, delivering the main accent of cultured, clipped upper-crust English in a manner that sometimes lulls and sometimes chastises. Listeners will enjoy feeling as if they are at Styles with Christie until suddenly the backstory comes in and they find themselves in County Cork. There is danger afoot here, and long simmering secrets. VERDICT Scott's narration transports listeners back to Christie's Britain, peopled with veterans of the Great War (some with injuries and PTSD), Sinn Fein, Magdalene laundries, mothers, children, lovers, enemies, and friends. A perfect liminal novel for a liminal time.—Laura Trombley
In this imagining of the famous disappearance of Agatha Christie, listeners are told the story from the viewpoint of Nan O'Dea, Agatha’s husband’s mistress. Lucy Scott narrates and immediately brings listeners into the world of 1920s Britain with crisp upper-class accents and larger-than-life characters. The story carefully weaves facts and fiction, creating an intriguing plot and a thought-provoking backstory for Nan. Scott’s stylish portrayals create believable characters and move seamlessly between accents. As listeners learn more about the backgrounds of the main characters, the mystery and suspense build until the plot climaxes with all the storylines coming together. K.J.P. © AudioFile 2022, Portland, Maine