Absent In The Spring

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Stranded in Mesopotamia, Joan Scudamore, alone, reflects upon her life's memories and wrestles to accept some uncomfortable truths. A Mary Westmacott novel.

“the book that I had always wanted to write”

Agatha Christie, An Autobiography



About this story

First released

July 1944 (serialised in Good Housekeeping, UK)

Genre

  • Drama

Formats

  • Novel

Setting

  • Middle East

Agatha Christie was always prolific, often finishing a book within a few months, but Absent in the Spring was written in just three days. A psychological exploration, a woman finds herself alone for the first time and begins to reassess her life, finally understanding how others must see her. “She would be, as it were,” Agatha Christie writes in her autobiography, “continually meeting herself, not recognising herself, but becoming increasingly uneasy.” The title came from Shakespeare’s sonnet 98: “From you have I been absent in the spring…”

Under the pseudonym Mary Westmacott, it was published as a novel in ...

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Agatha Christie was always prolific, often finishing a book within a few months, but Absent in the Spring was written in just three days. A psychological exploration, a woman finds herself alone for the first time and begins to reassess her life, finally understanding how others must see her. “She would be, as it were,” Agatha Christie writes in her autobiography, “continually meeting herself, not recognising herself, but becoming increasingly uneasy.” The title came from Shakespeare’s sonnet 98: “From you have I been absent in the spring…”

Under the pseudonym Mary Westmacott, it was published as a novel in August, 1944. The publishers Collins were unenthusiastic about the prospect of a third Mary Westmacott, stories which took Agatha Christie away from traditional mystery and allowed her to examine crimes of the heart instead. But they were proven wrong and Absent in the Spring remains one of Agatha Christie’s most surprising and revealing pieces of work. She wrote in her autobiography: “it was written with integrity, with sincerity, it was written as I meant to write it, and that is the proudest joy an author can have.”

It has never been adapted.

“It is a very clever and consistently interesting study of a character that not even a desert vision could permanently change.”

The Guardian, August 1944



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