Readers' Favorite

January 29, 2022

The Disappearance of Agatha Christie - a Movie and Book Review

by Donna Huber

While I enjoy reading an Agatha Christie movie, I don't know much about the life of the author. I'm not sure how or when I found out that she disappeared for 11 days, but I think it might have been when I saw a listing on PBS for a movie about those 11 days. While I wanted to watch it, I couldn't remember to when I would have time for an hour and a half movie.  Then a few months ago, I saw a book about her disappearance that is set to publish next week. I have enjoyed learning about authors when I've done deep dives into some of the classics, so I was interested in learning more about an author that I knew very little about. So last weekend I made time for the movie and then this week I listened to the audiobook. They are very different but both were entertaining.

Amazon affiliate links are used on this site. A free book was provided for an honest review.

There is very little actually known about the 11 days when Agatha Christie was missing in 1926. From what I've gathered in my internet search (not exhaustive at all) she disappeared after her husband asked for a divorce. He was having an affair, which Agatha was aware of and even knew the name of the woman, and he wanted to marry this woman. Her mother had also recently died. Her car was found abandoned. She turned up 11 days later at a hotel in Yorkshire and claimed amnesia. There was a country-wide search for her and apparently, this was the first time a plane was used to search for a person. So of course, there is plenty to speculate about and several people have come up with their own explanations. I'm not sure I buy the amnesia story but rather she wanted to get away from everything and then was embarrassed about the ruckus that her absence had caused. But it is fun to see what people have made up. 

Agatha and the Truth of Murder

Agatha and the Truth of Murder

The 2018 TV movie Agatha and the Truth of Murder is a light-hearted murder mystery involving Agatha hatching a plan to catch a murderer. 

The movie starts off with Agatha struggling with her next book and seeking the advice of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. He suggests designing a golf course. Agatha's husband loves to golf, she does not, and apparently his mistress Nancy enjoys golf. Even knowing her husband is having an affair, Agatha still loves him so she sees designing a golf course as a way to perhaps win her husband back and also end her writer's block. Despite the architect who she sees to inquire about how to go about designing one telling her that a woman would never understand the intricacies of design, she creates miniature and highly details course. It delights her husband and you see a bit of the love that he at least once had for her. Yet he still wants the divorce.

A woman turns up at Agatha's house wanting her help in solving the murder of her friend because the police have written it off as a cold case. At first, Agatha dismisses her - she writes books about detectives but she isn't a detective. But then after really talking to her she hatches a plan to bring all the possible suspects together in order to determine who did it. The woman will pretend to be a maid and Agatha assumes the character Mary Westmacot (interestingly this is a pen name Agatha used) who works for a fictitious law firm handling the estate of a wealthy man who all the suspects are led to believe that are related to. Once at the house, the movie started to feel a little like the movie Clue

Everything seems to be going well and Agatha thinks she has the murder figured out. But then one of the guests is killed and the police have to be called. This is when Agatha learns of the search for her.

It is a fun movie. I loved Ruth Bradley as Agatha Christie. I don't usually re-watch mysteries because I know how it ends, but I do want to watch this movie again just to see Bradley's performance again. And I think there will be little details that I missed the first time that will make it even more fun to watch a second time. I highly recommend watching it if you haven't already. 

Amazon Prime members can watch it for free until January 31. 

The Christie Affair by Nina de Gramont

The Christie Affair
February 2022; St. Martin's; 978-1250274618
audio (10h 23m), ebook, print (320 pages); historical fiction

After watching Agatha and the Truth of Murder, I was really excited to start Nina de Gramont's novel and see if I could learn more about Agatha and the days she was missing (I hadn't yet started my Internet search of what was known about her disappearance). de Gramont is not the first author to attempt to fill in the blanks for those 11 days. I haven't read the other books so I can't compare them, but I can compare it to the 2018 TV movie. They are pretty different as de Gramont decided to focus as much (and maybe even more) on Archie's mistress.

I was expecting something along of the lines of biographical fiction when I picked up The Christie Affair. It starts off similarly to the movie - Archie tells Agatha he wants a divorce and then they share a tender moment that harkens back to earlier in their marriage. Agatha thinks she has won him back but then he goes off on a weekend trip with his mistress. It infuriates Agatha more than ever because she thought they were reconciling but it was just a last goodbye for him. Agatha decides to leave and runs her car off the road. The car is found and the search begins. The book focuses much more on the search and Archie and his mistress than the movie did.

Soon after starting the book it did not feel as biographical as I had thought it would. It was the introduction of Nan O'Dea as Archie's mistress. From the movie, I thought her name was Nancy and so I started my Internet search for what was really known about Agatha, Archie, Nancy and the 11 days Agatha was missing. Nan O'Dea is fictional character based on Nancy Neele, the real mistress of Archie Christie (they eventually wed in 1928). I didn't find a lot about Nancy so I'm not sure how closely Nan's backstory matched Nancy's real life.

I eventually enjoyed the story but it felt like it was a bait and switch - the reader is drawn to the book (at least this reader) because it is about Agatha Christie and her missing days but then the story focused on this fictional character. I felt like the story could have been just as good if Agatha Christie wasn't part of it - her role could have been filled by another fictional character. Once I gave up on there being in truth in this story I was able to enjoy it as a story of historical fiction. 

I felt like this was more of a romance even though there is a murder mystery. (Really could there be a story involving Agatha Christie without there being a murder mystery to solve?) 

The story moves from the present (1926) to the past and back again. This method of storytelling can often be confusing when listening to an audiobook. But I had no problem keeping the timelines straight as they are labeled. The chapters that occur during the missing days all start with how many days it has been since Agatha disappeared. 

We are given alternating snippets of Nan's past and present until it all ties together in the end. This method was great for Nan's character arc. My feelings toward Nan definitely changed from not liking her to maybe not liking her exactly but I could at least sympathize with her in the end. There was the obvious reason I didn't like her in the beginning - she is breaking up a marriage that appeared to be a loving relationship prior to her). But also there was something she said pretty early on about how she made herself to be exactly what Archie wanted. It rubbed me the wrong way. She is definitely a foil for Agatha in the beginning as Agatha was very much her own person. By the end of the book, though their characters seem to be a little more alike.

I liked how everything tied together in the end. There are several threads that seem unrelated and feel like they are there just to make the world de Gramont created more realistic. But then the reader is given a new piece of the puzzle and the plot becomes less disjointed and I feel like I should have paid more attention to the details of the side threads. This is in a similar vein to how I felt after watching the movie - that there were details I glossed over because I didn't think they were important at the time. 

The Christie Affair is a rich story. I don't think it necessarily needed to Agatha Christie, a similar fictional character would have worked just as well. I enjoyed the fictional character of Nan O'Dea. And de Gramont's writing is wonderful - she has definitely penned an intricate story that you will want to pay attention to every detail of.

Buy The Christie Affair at Amazon

Donna Huber is an avid reader and natural encourager. She is the founder of Girl Who Reads and the author of how-to marketing book Secrets to a Successful Blog Tour.

Enjoyed this post? Never miss out on future posts by following us. Get even more book news in your inbox, sign up for our newsletter today! Girl Who Reads is an Amazon advertising affiliate; a small commission is earned when purchases are made at Amazon using any Amazon links on this site. Thank you for supporting Girl Who Reads.


  1. i used to get all her books to read from my grandmother. now, they see tame compared to the dark books i crave. lol i agree with you, i think she wanted to get away and was embarrassed about all the hoopla
    sherry @ fundinmental