12 June 2009

Duchess of Death; Richard Hack

Duchess of Death: The Biography of Agatha Christie Duchess of Death: The Biography of Agatha Christie by Richard Hack

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars

I read this for two reasons: one is, quite simply, I enjoyed reading Agatha Christie's mysteries when I was younger; the other is that our 6th grade students do research on mystery writers and this might be a good resource for them. It satisfies on both accounts.

This isn't so scholarly that younger readers won't be able to understand it, nor is it so simple that adults will give up. For many of us, the world into which she was born is so foreign (a minimum of two servants?!) that it's difficult to remember that she died within my lifetime - and I do remember her death. Yet you never feel that distanced from her or her life, possibly because of all the productions of her works (Suchet's Poirot, the endless Miss Marple's, The Mousetrap) that reproduce the era in which they're written.

It was also nice to not get a lot of psychological analysis; why she disappeared isn't necessarily solved, but the external reasons are given. Ditto her feelings about her divorce, deaths, her daughter. Our understanding of Christie comes from her own words and those of people she knew rather than from the biographer's decision that this is what she meant or felt.

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