8:55 to Baghdad: From London to Iraq on the Trail of Agatha Christie and the Orient Express

8:55 to Baghdad: From London to Iraq on the Trail of Agatha Christie and the Orient Express

4.0 1
by Andrew Eames
     
 

In 1928, Agatha Christie, the world's most widely read author, was a thirty-something single mother.
With her marriage to her first husband, Archie Christie, over, she decided to take a much needed holiday; the Caribbean had been her intended destination, but a conversation at a dinner party with a couple who had just returned from Iraq changed her mind. Five

Overview

In 1928, Agatha Christie, the world's most widely read author, was a thirty-something single mother.
With her marriage to her first husband, Archie Christie, over, she decided to take a much needed holiday; the Caribbean had been her intended destination, but a conversation at a dinner party with a couple who had just returned from Iraq changed her mind. Five days later she was off on a completely different trajectory.
Merging literary biography with travel adventure, and ancient history with contemporary world events, Andrew Eames tells a riveting tale and reveals fascinating and little-knowndetails en route in this exotic chapter in the life of Agatha Christie. His own trip from London to Baghdad—a journey much more difficult to make in 2002 with the political unrest in the Middle East and the war in Iraq, than it was in 1928—becomes ineluctably intertwined with Agatha's, and the people he meets could have stepped out of a mystery novel.
Fans of Agatha Christie will delight in Eames' description of the places and events that appeared in andinfluenced her fiction—and armchair travelers will thrill in the exotica of the journey itself.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Agatha Christie fans, as well as connoisseurs of fine travel writing, will relish British journalist Eames's gripping, humorous and eye-opening account of his train and bus trip across Europe and the Middle East on the eve of the second Gulf War." Publisher’s Weekly
Publishers Weekly
Agatha Christie fans, as well as connoisseurs of fine travel writing, will relish British journalist Eames's gripping, humorous and eye-opening account of his train and bus trip across Europe and the Middle East on the eve of the second Gulf War. A chance stay in a Syrian hotel where Christie once stayed prompts Eames to attempt to follow in the bestselling author's footsteps. Despite the awkward timing, Eames (Crossing the Shadow Lines: Travels in South-East Asia) finds many friendly faces, even in Iraq, where a close call with a mysterious explosion curtails his journey. Admirers of the creator of Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot will learn more about her relationship with the peoples of the region (Kurds, Armenians and Palestinians), as well as the real-life inspiration for her classic 1934 novel, Murder on the Orient Express: a blizzard that stranded the historic train for nine days in 1929. Especially engaging is the way Eames describes his traveling companions on the last leg of his odyssey as if they were the cast of characters in a typical Christie mystery. (May 31) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
While Agatha Christie is world renowned as a prolific mystery writer, her numerous archaeological expeditions to Iraq are not well known. In 1928, she took the Orient Express from London and days later arrived by bus in Iraq, where she met the archaeologist who would eventually become her husband. Journalist Eames re-creates Christie's first journey to Iraq by following her route, taking the Orient Express to Venice and traveling by train through the Balkan countries, Turkey, and Syria. He intersperses Christie's life story with descriptions of the history, people, and culture of the cities (e.g., Zagreb, Belgrade, Aleppo, and Damascus) he visits en route and provides entertaining anecdotes, including some tense moments in Iraq (he embarked on this voyage in 2002, shortly before the war in Iraq began). The book does not include a bibliography, though Eames cites several other works. All the same, this intriguing memoir is highly recommended for all public and larger academic libraries.-Erica Swenson Danowitz, American Univ. Lib., Washington, DC Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
English journalist and travel author Eames sets off on an ambitious, good-natured, quirkily informative journey on the path of the legendary Orient Express. Eames follows the route that Agatha Christie took (in 1928, at age 38) when, newly divorced and already a best-selling author, she made her way solo from her dreaded marital home of Sunningdale, outside of London, via train to Baghdad, where she met the younger man who would become her second husband, archaeologist Max Mallowan. Leaving from Victoria Station, Eames travels on several modern reincarnations of the swanky old trains, including the ultra luxurious Venice-Simplon Orient Express, the longest passenger train in Europe. His delightfully entertaining quest spreads out over many weeks as he changes trains in Venice, then proceeds to Trieste, Ljubljana, Zagreb, Belgrade, Sofia, Istanbul, Aleppo, Damascus and, by bus, to Baghdad. He is personable and open to meeting all kinds of people, though also not above poking gentle fun at them. He accepts invitations wherever he goes, and, as the result of one such in Ljubljana, meets with an elderly journalist who interviewed Christie decades ago in the lake town of Bohinj, which Christie termed "too beautiful for murder." While at the famous old Baron Hotel in Aleppo, where Christie and Max used to stay between digs in the Syrian desert, Eames has tea with the owner's haughty mother, Mrs. Masloumians, who socialized warily with the reclusive couple and notes now that the fictional Poirot was a dead wringer for husband Max. In recounting his own journey (on an increasingly faltering rail system), Eames also incorporates details of Christie's life and work, including visits to some of thedigs she and Max worked on, such as those at Nineveh and Nimrud. At his own peril, he even gets to Ur, where the couple first met, now the middle of a NATO target zone. A loquacious, naive, winning literary treat.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781585678020
Publisher:
The Overlook Press
Publication date:
05/02/2006
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
401
Product dimensions:
5.30(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.10(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher

"Agatha Christie fans, as well as connoisseurs of fine travel writing, will relish British journalist Eames's gripping, humorous and eye-opening account of his train and bus trip across Europe and the Middle East on the eve of the second Gulf War." Publisher’s Weekly

Meet the Author

Andrew Eames was born in 1958 and his journalism career has led to wide travel. His articles appear in the Daily Telegraph and The Times. He is the author of Crossing the Shadow Line: Travels in South-East Asia, Four Scottish Journeys, and he is an authority on both Istanbul and the Nile. He lives in London with his family.

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The 8:55 to Baghdad: From London to Iraq on the Trail of Agatha Christie and the Orient Express 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
SC1980 More than 1 year ago
Having read Agatha Christie's autobiography and also her account about her life in Syria with her husband (Come tell me how you live) I really enjoyed this book. It was a chance finding at a public library but overall a good read. At times you wish you were the author going on the trail of Christie. You have got to have some knowledge of that part of the world (I am from there myself), at least that's what I think. People might disagree with me. In short, good book, overall good read. I would recommend to a Christie fan and a fan of books in general. For those of you who have not read any of Christie's book about her life I recommend reading her own books first, including her biography then the above mentioned book, maybe that will give you more appreciation of this book. I have a friends who are also Christie fans, I would consider buying this book for them (or at least telling them where to find it at the library). Good luck and have fun reading.