Absent In The Spring

  • Mary Westmacott
  • Novel
  • 1944

Returning from a visit to her daughter in Iraq, Joan Scudamore finds herself unexpectedly alone and stranded in an isolated rest house by flooding of the railway tracks. This sudden solitude compels Joan to assess her life for the first time ever and face up to many of the truths about herself. Looking back over the years, Joan painfully re-examines her attitudes, relationships and actions and becomes increasingly uneasy about the person who is revealed to her…

More about this story

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.”

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.

Did you know?

  1. Agatha Christie described Absent in the Spring as 'the one book that has satisfied me completely - the book I always wanted to write.'

  2. The title came from Shakespeare’s sonnet 98: “From you have I been absent in the spring…”

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