Duchess of Death: the Unathorized Biography of Agatha Christie by Richard Huck

May 1, 2012

A biography of Agatha Christie has been on my list to read for many years. I was also interested in learning what were the sources of inspirations for her stories, settings and characters in her writings.  I was also intrigued by Christie’s mysterious disappearance that turned her into one of the characters of her own books. All of these questions and much more were answered in this unauthorized biography with spicy details.  This engaging and fascinating book retells the life of Agatha Christie as taken from correspondence and helps us understand who was behind the genius of Agatha Christie.  

Agatha was raised by her mother.  At the age of five she had already taught herself to read. She had to amuse herself as a child, acting out stories and make believe. Her writing career began after her sister challenged her to write a novel.  She craved love and an encouraging environment all of her life.  Later her lonely marriage forced her to reach to writing and self expression. She started to write because her life was “gloriously idle”. Agatha was trained as a singer and pianist, but was too shy to ever pursue this career.

She was surprisingly well traveled for her time, visiting Egypt in her teens, later cruised the Pacific with her first husband. Her travels became even more exotic when she married her second husband, Max Mallowan, an archeologist.  Max was very devoted to his wife, despite the fact that she was 14 years his senior.  The reader will learn that Christies was also an enthusiastic home collector, at one stage owning eight houses, most of them in London.

The top best-selling author and the most popular novelist of all time, rivaling Shakespeare, translated to one hundred five languages, Agatha Christie is still the most popular modern author in the world even four decades later. All of her books are still in print. Duchess of Death is a must read for anyone fascinated by Agatha Christie and her life's work.

Reviewed by Library Staff