What to Read in 2022

When I committed to following Reese’s Book Club on the recommendation of my friend Tracey (hi Tracey!), I wasn’t sure what to expect. Some of the prior Reese picks weren’t in my wheelhouse.

But Carole, you say, it’s good to try new things. And in this instance, I agree with you. February’s book is not something I would have read and now I’m going to read another book on that very subject. More on that in a moment. 

First, on to the book:

February pick:

The Christie Affair by Nina de Gramont. This book falls in the Historical Fiction category. Nan O’Dea, the mistress of Agatha Christie’s husband, tells the story from her view. That may be why it fits into the Women’s Fiction category so well. Nan’s transformation during this story is painful, but interesting and intriguing. 

Description from Kobo.com:

Every story has its secrets.
Every mystery has its motives.**

“A long time ago, in another country, I nearly killed a woman. It’s a particular feeling, the urge to murder. It takes over your body so completely, it’s like a divine force, grabbing hold of your will, your limbs, your psyche. There’s a joy to it. In retrospect, it’s frightening, but I daresay in the moment it feels sweet. The way justice feels sweet.”

The greatest mystery wasn’t Agatha Christie’s disappearance in those eleven infamous days, it’s what she discovered.

London, 1925: In a world of townhomes and tennis matches, socialites and shooting parties, Miss Nan O’Dea became Archie Christie’s mistress, luring him away from his devoted and well-known wife, Agatha Christie.

The question is, why? Why destroy another woman’s marriage, why hatch a plot years in the making, and why murder? How was Nan O’Dea so intricately tied to those eleven mysterious days that Agatha Christie went missing?

A beguiling novel of star-crossed lovers, heartbreak, revenge, and murder—and a brilliant re-imagination of one of the most talked-about unsolved mysteries of the twentieth century.

My Take: 

I am repeating myself, but I read is to escape reality. Not in a fantasy/sci-fi sort of way, but in a “happily ever after” way. The news does a great job of reporting all the bad stuff happening in the world, so I gravitate to books that provide a more upbeat outlet.

But for some reason, The Christie Affair captured my attention and left me satisfied in the end. I won’t spoil the book for you, but there was so much more depth to this book than I expected. This fictional account of what happened to Agatha Christie when she disappeared for eleven days in 1926 is loosely based on the facts. Several things happened that year to make Agatha’s life difficult. Her mother passed away and her husband Archibald announced he wanted a divorce to marry his mistress. 

The general structure of the book follows what was captured in the media. Agatha disappeared one night, her abandoned car found near a chalk quarry. She spent time in a hotel near natural hot baths. When she was discovered, she claimed to not remember what happened during the time she was missing. 

The fact that de Gramont told the story through Nan’s eyes though is what made it interesting to me. The mistress’ trials and tribulations were the focus of the book, rather than Agatha’s woes. Nan didn’t have an easy life. Originally from England, Nan found her way to Ireland in dire circumstances. 

That’s where the fiction comes in. The story is really Nan’s struggle to endure the loss of family and friends and the mistreatment of those in power. This is a Women’s Fiction story because of what Nan did as a result of the atrocities done to her.  She fought back. Everything she did wasn’t moral or right, not by a long shot. But it was the only way she felt she could recover from the wrongs done to her. 

I will say there is a bit of head-hopping in this book. I’m wasn’t always convinced that Nan would know what was happening. de Gramont addressed this in the narrative, but it did distract me. There are also some triggering scenes in the book about the abuse of women.

I mentioned earlier I plan to read another book on this subject. Author Valerie Francis reviewed The Mystery of Mrs. Christie by Marie Benedict here. I’ve decided to read it and see how Benedict’s version compares to The Christie Affair.  As a side note, Valerie’s Book Club offers monthly recommendations of stories by, for and about women. You can find more information about her book club here

I’m also considering reading more of Christie’s books, particularly the Hercule Poirot books. I found a downloadable list of all of Agatha Christie’s book here if you are interested. 

Other books I’m reading: 

  • The Husbands by Chandler Baker
  • The Mystery of Mrs. Christie by Marie Benedict 

If there is a book you think I should read, drop me an email at carole@carolewolfe.com. 

Until next time…

Photo by Lacie Slezak on Unsplash