Ugh, oh man. OK. So, it turns out I reviewed another of Ashford’s books last year, Whisper of the Moon Moth, and I really wish I had realized these books were by the same author before I had started it. It also explains why this stupid book refused to stop popping up in my “Recommended For You” List on my Kindle. A quick recap of why I wasn’t thrilled with Moon Moth: basically I really don’t like novels that try to make suppositions about real people. It just bugs me. You don’t actually know them or what they thought about things, author! Don’t put words in their mouths. Come up with your own characters and your own stories. It doesn’t bug me quite as much if we’re going further back in history, but if it’s within the last two or three generations? Please just don’t.
Essentially, there was really no way I was going to like this book, thanks to that prejudice of mine. On top of that, this one really just wasn’t nearly as good as Moon Moth, which bugged me but overall I could see the good book in there that someone else might enjoy.
This is theoretically a fictionalized account of how Agatha Christie met her second husband, Max Mallowan, in Egypt. What it actually is, however, is a melodramatic soap opera about a silly ninny of a woman who runs away to Africa and has adventures with two other equally overwrought women that she meets on the Orient Express on her way there. Oh, and be careful, because you are going to want to pick up your feet lest you trip over the Christie Easter Eggs dropped all over the place.
On the way to Africa, Christie (who is traveling incognito as “Mary”) is assigned a train car with an extremely glamorous and mysterious woman named Katherine Menke who is on her way back to an archaeological dig that she works on with her fiancee Leonard Woolley. Both Katherine and Leonard are real people, and both were actually friends of Christie’s and coworkers with Max, that is where the historical accuracy comes from, if you can call it that. Basically, the author takes rumors that have circulated about Katherine and, while they might very well be true, turn them into more of a salacious plot device than an actual condition that a person might struggle with.
Then there is also the poor little rich girl, Nancy, that Agatha meets after following her around because she reminds Agatha of her husband’s mistress. This is not a real person, and I really, really wish she had been left out. Good God is her plot line obnoxious and very much in place to add an unnecessary air of mystery and more soapy drama.
I kind of wanted to throw this book at the wall by the time I finished it. Mainly, I just really hated the person Agatha is in this book. She’s sniveling, and weak, and so self destructively fixated on so few, and such silly, things. I mean, yes, this is happening during an especially difficult point in her life, but there is no was that superficial twit came up with Miss Marple.
I know other people liked this book way better than I did. I don’t want to take that away from them, but this one really was NOT for me. Had I payed a little bit of attention, I would have known it was not for me, so I have no one really to blame but myself.
I am going to use this for my Travel square on my Bingo Card.