Reading Lists

About Agatha Christie: A Reading List

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We explore four recent books about Agatha Christie

Agatha Christie by Lucy Worsley

Beloved historian Lucy Worsley's biography of Agatha Christie is as insightful as it is entertaining. Organised into ten parts, Worsley explores the extraordinary writer and reveals how her public image and her private life differed. From her Victorian childhood to her periods as a wartime worker, her two marriages and her countless trips, to her life at home and abroad with her daughter Rosalind. We would recommend this book to any Agatha fan.

Book Blurb: Born in 1890 into a world that had its own rules about what women could and couldn't do, Agatha Christie liked to present herself as a retiring Edwardian lady of leisure. On official forms, the woman whose books have sold an estimated two billion copies listed her occupation as 'housewife'.

But why? In reality, Agatha was 'thrilling, scintillatingly modern.' She went surfing in Hawaii, loved fast cars, and was intrigued by the new science of psychology, which helped her through devastating mental illness.

With access to personal letters and papers that have rarely been seen, Lucy Worsley's authoritative and entertaining biography unravels the mystery of the elusive author and makes us realise what an extraordinary pioneer Agatha Christie truly was.

Christie lovers should read this biography for the same reason they read her novels.
The Times
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Mothers of the Mind: The Remarkable Women Who Shaped Virginia Woolf, Agatha Christie and Sylvia Plath by Rachel Trethewey

Author Rachel Trethewey uncovers the lives of three mothers for the first time, examining the impact they had on, and the inspiration the provided to their famous daughters. Julia, Clara and Aurelia's commonalities are explored, they were all aspiring writers, but so too are there distinctions. Christie readers will be fascinated by Trethewey's insights into the mother/daughter relationship, and the love they shared. In addition, reflections on how Clara Miller's own life was reflected in Christie's books, The Hollow, Ordeal by Innocence, Unfinished Portrait, and Death Comes as the End, to name just a few, will provide plenty of food for thought.

Book Blurb: Julia Stephen, Clara Miller and Aurelia Plath were fascinating women in their own rights, and their relationships with their daughters were exceptional; they profoundly influenced the writers' lives, literature and attitude to feminism. Too often in the past Virginia, Agatha and Sylvia have been defined by their lovers – Mothers of the Mind redresses the balance by charting the complex, often contradictory bond between mother and daughter. Drawing on previously unpublished sources from archives around the world and accounts from family and friends of the women, this book offers a new perspective on these iconic authors.

The mothers were their daughters' first teachers, readers and critics.
Rachel Trethewey, Mothers of the Mind

Agatha Christie at Home by Hilary Macaskill

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Agatha, always keen on the practicalities of decoration, painting the fireplace of her bedroom at Greenway

From decorating dolls' houses to fixing up London flats, and collecting a gem in Devon, Agatha Christie had a long history with making a house a home. Author Hilary Macaskill delves into the life and legacy of Christie's domestic settings, exploring towns, cities, and counties along the way. Featuring charming photography and interesting anecdotes throughout.

Book Blurb: This new and revised edition of Hilary Macaskill's classic book offers fresh insight into the life and work of the bestselling novelist, supported by many new illustrations, including recently discovered images. From her childhood, when she negotiated with her mother for a second dolls' house, she maintained her passion for houses (an interest she shared with her second husband archaeologist Max Mallowan), gleefully realizing in the 1930s that she owned eight. Most important of all were her homes in Devon, the country that meant more to her than anywhere else: Ashfield, her childhood home in Torquay, and Greenway, perched over the River Dart, which was, to Agatha, the 'loveliest place in the world', now restored to its beauty by the National Trust. But there were other cherished houses, mostly in London, where she indulged her enthusiasm for decorating. A significant one was in Iraq where she worked with Max on digs: Beit Agatha (Agatha's house) the mud-brick room where she began to write her autobiography. Illustrated by photographs of her home county, her family and her houses, Agatha Christie at Home explores the links between Devon and hr works, identifying the settings she used in her books and shedding light on the influences on her writing. With a foreword by her grandson, Mathew Prichard, as well as photographs from the Christie Archive, this book presents a unique insight into the life and homes of Agatha Christie.

I'm so glad that a new edition is coming! A wonderful, inspirational and essential book for Christie-lovers.
Lucy Worsley, Biographer of Agatha Christie

The Writer's Garden: How Gardens Inspired the World's Great Authors by Jackie Bennett

Perfect for any green-fingered fans, this extraordinary book contains photography that will transport readers around the world. Uncover the wild beauty of the gardens at Greenway, on the banks of the River Dart. Gain insight into the shelter and solitude it offered ‘the Mallowans’ and learn more about the history of its plantings. Fans have plenty to learn about this, and the other great gardens that inspired some of the greatest works of literature.

Book Blurb: Discover the flower gardens, vegetable plots, landscapes and writing hideaways of twenty-eight great authors - from Louisa May Alcott's 'Orchard House' where she wrote Little Women and Agatha Christie at Greenway, to Virginia Woolf at Monk's House and the Massachusetts home of Edith Wharton. Fully illustrated with specially commissioned photography plus archive images, and spanning centuries and continents, The Writer's Garden visits the homes and gardens that inspired novelists, poets and playwrights. It shows how outdoor spaces were important to writers in many different ways and offers insight into the lives and creative processes of beloved authors. The writers featured include Louisa May Alcott, Jane Austen, Frances Hodgson Burnett, Agatha Christie, Thomas Hardy, Henry James, Beatrix Potter and William Wordsworth. This insightful book sheds new light on some of literature's greatest works, offers rare glimpses into the lives of these brilliant minds, and showcases in stunning full colour the gardens in which these writers spent their time.

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