Memory is a mystery. Life seems to recollect in consistency. The high points of her life being stored with descriptions of places she’s loved, seasons, lessons learned and lessons valued. This isn’t a book, it is handiwork. Agatha Christie knows crewel. She has written a lifetime from a tapestry of relationship in this, her autobiography.
In this book, it’s not what she says, it’s what she doesn’t say. If you read her novels, you will know who she is, she writes-in her characters. In her familial cast, her brother Monty plays the villain, (p. 323/324), « I thought that Monty ill would be just as difficult as Monty well. People’s natures don’t change. » Other members of the cast: various nurses and nannies, a philosophy of doctors, the oftentimes overbearing stranger providing the occasional literary concept or phrase. She herself even provides the role of the dispensary nurse, protecting ill-advised patients from the arrogance of professional ineptitude.
She gives us glimpses of who she is in small doses. Her favorites:
archaeology (and a passion for understanding why people are drawn to visualize death)
She is the product of an age. She is gentle, she is delicate, she is Victorian.
She teaches, and learns. She discovers a moral to discouragement, and reminisces upon her childhood. In acceptance of circumstances, (p. 172), she was brought up to discover a moral, « … you are never too old to learn… Be attentive, there may be a new point of view being shown you, unexpectedly. »
She discusses her feelings toward innocence (p. 440), liberally, as an ointment to society’s ignorance. She concludes that this genre of writing has a passion, that passion being to help save innocence, « because it is innocence that matters, not guilt. » She prays for the loss and the lost in hopes of societal repair.
This book spans 20 years of writing, the final chapter written in 1965 (after a twenty year intermission from the previous chapter). She writes beginning from her first memories as a precocious baby girl, through her Victorian-inspired education, two wars, more houses than she would describe, the unearthing of various discoveries and important historical artifacts on numerous archaeological sites, and global travel in an age of romantic expedition, (p. 221), flight is disillusionment, but « ships can still be romantic… and what can beat a train? To travel by train is to see nature and human beings, towns and churches, and rivers – in fact, to see life. » She is expressive.
Her zest for life, her writer’s grace… she was the inspired ideal, the Lady Agatha, a queen of mystery.