Monday, April 2, 2018

Review: The Woman on the Orient Express by Lindsay Jayne Ashford

The Woman on the Orient Express
Different to what I was expecting - reviews are mixed. 

Three stories intertwine on a journey on the Orient Express with Agatha Christie front and centre. Apart from a little to-ing and fro-ing at the start to get characters sorted, it quite readable. I don't mind a little artistic licence when it comes to plausibly filling in the gaps or maybe adding a little twist.

Our story starts much later in Agatha's life as a visit from a young man recalls images of a story not long forgotten but left untold.  We are then taken back to 1928, and divorce from her husband Archie becomes a catalyst for Agatha's journey to Baghdad.  Travelling under the assumed name of Mary Miller, Agatha encounters two women (Nancy Nelson and Katherine Keeling), both with secrets of their own, and both also heading to Baghdad.

Ashford creatively uses known facts to weave a intricate story of Agatha's journey to the Middle East - she did in fact travel to Istanbul on the Orient Express in 1928.  She also did meet Katherine Woolley (nee Keeling) at a dig at Ur.  We get a sense too of where some of Agatha's later stories based in Mesopotamia originate.  However, her meeting with her future second husband, Max Mallowan was not until two years later. 

All in all, this is a captivating and vivid spin on the beginning of a new chapter in Agatha's life - it is not a typical Agatha Christie style mystery, but a good historical fiction story.  Some liberties are taken - this is fiction afterall!

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