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An Autobiography (1977)

de Agatha Christie

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1,537368,555 (4.1)1 / 197
Dame Agatha Christie sheds light on her secretive life and tells of her early years, her marriages and rise to success.
Afegit fa poc perraphi, Jen2be2, mhplibrary, Glenn1962, AGift, biblioteca privada, legrande, LarsTH, MWise, Mo_Cat
Biblioteques llegadesEdward St. John Gorey
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Agatha Christie is the Queen of Mystery, with countless novels and short stories behind her. This is a different book. It's a narrated story through her memories, from the age of 5 to the age of 75. It is written in a light and conversational style. This could be her at the dinner table recollecting old memories to some new friends. Anyone wanting to know everything that happened to her will most likely be disappointed since this is random recollections and major events, some of them, not all.

What we are given is a look into the mind of Christie. It gives an idea about what she found interesting, fun, valuable and important. Places. She mentions early that she remembers places more than people and this book confirms it. The family home of Ashfield, though sold and demolished quite some time before this was published, is on the first and the last page. And imagination. She marvels about how her imagination kept her busy and happy as a child.

For an author she seems to have a blind eye to other people's views. She does not seem to realise when she is appreciated and she does not seem to realise her own position in the world. She iterates many times that they were not rich, but most people did not do what her family did. Wikipedia calls her family Upper Middle class and maybe this is what it was like to be Upper Middle Class around 1900. Her family did lose its position though. The family money disappeared and she ended up having to make her own money. Luckily since otherwise she might not have been so motivated to write.

She also had a fascination with houses. I don't know how many she bought and owned but many. I wonder what happened to them all.

For people, she seems to have considered a lot of people dear friends but I wonder how much they were in touch. The book leaves most of the really private parts alone. It is also a nice book. Very few bad things are said about anyone, and when bad things are mentioned, I have the feeling the target would actually agree.

Some of the most memorable quotes from the book:

The line that identifies her as an introvert long before that term became popular:
I needed, urgently, to be alone and come to terms with this incredible happiness.

About being taught various dances that could become useful in social funcitons:
We were also taught the Swedish Country Dance,
... which reminds me about a passage where a dancer returns her to her mother saying "You have taught her well how to dance, now teach her to speak."

The words of someone content:
There are few things more desirable than to be an acceptor and an enjoyer. You can like and enjoy almost any kind of food or way of life. You can enjoy country life, dogs, muddy walks; towns, noise, people, clatter. In the one there is repose, ease for nerves, time for reading, knitting, embroidery, and the pleasure of growing things. In the other theatres, art galleries, good concerts, and seeing friends you would otherwise seldom see. I am happy to say that I can enjoy almost everything.

I was always prepared to like the next thing that came along.

Sea travels stuck to her mind and later when flying becomes possible she describes flying as dull and boring. Still, I don't know if she really wanted to go back to sea considering her experiences with rough waters:
There is no gap in the world as complete as that between one who is sea-sick and one who is not.

Again, being happy for the simple things:
Nowhere in the world is there such a good breakfast as tinned sausages cooked on a primus stove in the desert in the early morning.
... or is that just being English?

About what is good with life:
I don’t like crowds, being jammed up against people, loud voices, noise, protracted talking, parties, and especially cocktail parties, cigarette smoke and smoking generally, any kind of drink except in cooking, marmalade, oysters, lukewarm food, grey skies, the feet of birds, or indeed the feel of a bird altogether. Final and fiercest dislike: the taste and smell of hot milk. I like sunshine, apples, almost any kind of music, railway trains, numerical puzzles and anything to do with numbers, going to the sea, bathing and swimming, silence, sleeping, dreaming, eating, the smell of coffee, lilies of the valley, most dogs, and going to the theatre.

And she used to word "haters" long before the Internet. This is still so true:
The minority of what I call ‘the haters’ is quite small, but, like all minorities, it makes itself felt far more than the majority does.

I wonder if this is I:
He read quickly, and seemed to have no preference whatsoever as to what he read: biographies, fiction, love stories, thrillers, scientific works, almost anything. He was like a starving man who would say that any kind of food is the same: you don’t mind what it is, you just want food. He wanted food for his mind.
... but I don't read love stories!

And finally a quote about speaking in public:
would have not exactly to make a speech, but to say a few words–a thing I had never done before. I cannot make speeches, I never make speeches, and I won’t make speeches, and it is a very good thing that I don’t make speeches because I should be so bad at them.
( )
  bratell | Dec 25, 2020 |
Reading this autobiography brought home to me that, while I am indeed a mystery fan, my love of Christie's books also stems from a liking of both her writing style and her personal viewpoints.

I don't read much nonfiction and when I do, I tend toward travel type books. So it may be my inexperience with autobiographies but this one struck me as unusual. Christie jumps around in time and interposes bits of personal philosophy or belief with anecdotes. She says quite openly towards the beginning that one of the things that elderly people like to do is remember and talk about their lives and that she was going to do this in book form rather than subjecting her family and friends to listening to a subject that would be boring to them. As such, it really is more of a memoir than an autobiography. ( )
  leslie.98 | Jan 15, 2020 |
A lo largo de las tres décadas desde su muerte en 1976, muchos lectores y críticos de Agatha Christie han sostenido que su libro más convincente es el menos conocido: su Autobiografía. A pesar de sus éxitos, siempre fue una persona muy celosa de su intimidad, llegando a extremos extravagantes por eludir las apariciones en público. Rodeó su vida con un manto de misterio casi tan impenetrable como el de sus novelas.
En esta obra nos cuenta los años felices de la infancia en el extranjero, los devaneos amorosos de la juventud, sus dos matrimonios, así como los contratiempos al comenzar la carrera de escritora y la consecución gradual de su éxito. Es la autobiografía de alguien que supo disfrutar de la vida y, al mismo tiempo, el estudio de una profesional consciente, de una escritora que sabía perfectamente cuál erasu trabajo y que nos cuenta cómo lo realizó.
  bibliotecayamaguchi | Oct 21, 2019 |
Over 500 pages and I enjoyed each page. So much I didn't know about her life. She describes a happy childhood and a very close relationship with her mother. Encouraged to begin writing by her sister. So much interesting detail about her life. I Recommend this book to any one that wants to know Christie in her own words. ( )
  loraineo | Jun 23, 2019 |
I am finally finished! This is a long read, a rambling look back over Agatha Christie's life. It was less about her writing career and more about all the other interesting things she has done: served as a dispensing chemist during the first world war; travelled extensively in the Middle East.

Agatha writes it in 1st person, and very much her own style. It was like I could hear her speaking. I had to keep reminding myself that she finished it in 1965, as there were many references to things that made me think: 'if only she knew how things were now'. Her writing career is very much in the background of this autobiography, as she treated it so in her life. She didn't consider herself an author, she considered it just a sort of past-time which happened to make her money. She considered herself a 'married woman' first and foremost, which was very much a product of her era - being born in 1890. In fact her writing doesn't really get a mention until after the first 200 pages, after a rambling account of her childhood and the different places she stayed and things she did.

There are references to conversations and events written in French (as that was what they were spoken), which are not translated, as Agatha Christie lived in France for a time in her childhood so she could learn it fluently, and had a French companion/nanny as well. She also did this later in the book as she also used French when in the Middle East and I found it disappointing that the publisher didn't endeavour to provide a translation of them as you miss some bits of pieces - or that it didn't occur to her that a reader would not know French. (very much a product of her class and era).

Towards the end she discusses her novels and the writing in more detail, especially when she started to write plays, and it was interesting to think that she didn't consider herself as talented as such or that she had a gift. Her humble modesty is quite disarming.

Agatha Christie had an interesting and intriguing life, which is what keep me reading this rambling account. She would have been quite a person to have known. ( )
  purplequeennl | Jul 11, 2018 |
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Preface: Agatha Christie began to write this book in April 1950; she finished it some fifteen years later when she was seventy-five years old.
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Dame Agatha Christie sheds light on her secretive life and tells of her early years, her marriages and rise to success.

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