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I was a huge Agathe Christie fan as a teenager and in my early teens, and although I have not read much by the author since devouring all her books in my youth, this amazing woman still intrigues me. Therefore I was quite excited when the audiobook version of The Woman on the Orient Express popped up in my recommendations from Amazon earlier this month, hoping to find out more about the mystery still surrounding the author’s life.
Focusing on events that may have inspired Christie’s writing and lead to the meeting between the author and her soon-to-be husband Max Mallowan, the novel is mainly set on the Orient Express on its journey from London to Baghdad, and at the archaeological site at Ur. Christie’s friendship with Katherine Whooley is well documented in history, and in her novel, Ashford stages the first meeting between the two woman aboard the train. To complete the trio, Ashford also includes a third – fictional – character, Nancy Nelson, a young woman who flees England as she is carrying her married lover’s child. As the train journey progresses, the three women get to know each other and form a tentative friendship, which sees them all travelling to the archaeological site at Ur, where Katherine has been working.
I loved the historical details Ashford seamlessly slips into the story, like the mystery surrounding Agatha’s recent breakdown, or the speculations about Katherine’s medical issues that may have contributed to the suicide of her first husband. Nancy is the only character who is not based on an actual person from Christie’s real life, and I admit I struggled a bit accepting her into the fold. With Christie’s death still falling into my lifetime (she died in 1976, and yes, I am that old!), it is too current for me to accept these “alternative facts”, and I’m not sure if the blend of fact and fiction is really for me when it concerns the recent past. That said, I thoroughly enjoyed the author’s descriptions of the train journey to many exotic locations, staying true to an era in history where women were not as free to travel and forge their own path in life – which makes Christie all the more remarkable. The story inspired me to pick up an old copy of Christie’s autobiography, which I read in my early twenties and now want to revisit again. I will enjoy comparing the two stories (as I am sure that Christie may have also slipped a few fictional elements into her version of events – wouldn’t you, given the chance?).
All in all, The Woman on the Orient Express was a light, enjoyable story for my daily commute. Whilst I found some of the events in the last part of the story slightly predictable and differing a bit too much from historical facts for my liking, it put an interesting spin on a chapter in Christie’s life which saw her moving on from her broken marriage and finding new love. Justine Eyre provided a wonderful narration, which brought all characters and places to life for me.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
After being thoroughly disgusted with Girl on a Train, and The Woman in Cabin 10 and their neurotic, alcoholic, unreliable narrators, I was delighted to find a book with a protagonist I could stand being in the company of. This is a fictionalized account of a period in Agatha Christie's life, and I found the story engrossing and entertaining. Some mystery, some suspense, some romance, some exotic locations, and a ride on the Orient Express adds up to some fun reading/listening.
Other than when she was attempting various foreign accents (thankfully, very brief), the narrator does a good job and is pleasant to listen to.
9 of 9 people found this review helpful
Most of the time I buy audio books because of the genera and rating without always reading the summary of what the book is about. Bring a Netflix binge watcher of Poirot, I was pleasantly surprised that this book was about Agatha Christie. It was beautifully written and had heartwarming story. It's one I will certainly listen to again.
32 of 35 people found this review helpful
I would rather have not rated this novel, because I know that I cannot be fair, but…
I'm afraid that I did not give the novel time to grip me - I progressed to chapter 4, but I really couldn't tolerate the narrator's voice! I found it quite grating - that doesn't normally happen with me, I can accept most accents, dialects and tones, but not Justine Eyre's I'm afraid. Listen to the sample first and then make your decision. The general reviews were ok, but I couldn't get sufficiently into the book to say if it was any good. Slow starting.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful
Gave up quite early. Can usually tolerate any audiobook and adore the classic detective fiction in the Agatha Christe genre but could not manage this