Aleppo has figured prominently in the news of late. We are used to seeing pictures of the devastation the war in Syria has caused there. But did you know that Aleppo is also where writer Agatha Christie wrote her famous mystery Murder on the Orient Express?
Agatha and her second husband archeologist Max Mallowan spent a great deal of time in the Middle East. Agatha helped with photographing, data keeping and restoration at her husband’s sites and continued writing her novels while she and Max worked and traveled. She was spending time in an Aleppo hotel while she worked on the manuscript for Murder on the Orient Express.
I just finished the book The Woman on the Orient Express by Lyndsay Jane Ashford. It is a fictionalized account of Agatha Christie’s first trip on the famous railroad in 1928. In the novel she visits an archeological dig where her future husband is at work.
The book should probably have been called Women (plural) on the Orient Express because it is told from the point of view of three British women, Agatha the mystery writer, Kathleen an archeologist, and Nancy a young woman running away from personal problems. Kathleen and Agatha try to help her.
As we hear Agatha, Nancy and Kathleen’s stories we learn a great deal about what life was like for women in the 1920s. Divorce was scandalous and almost always blamed on the woman. Unmarried pregnant women faced dire social criticism and discrimination and there was absolutely no broad understanding of the science of genetics or gender identity.
I learned so much about social history, Agatha Christie and the way the Middle East has changed from reading this book. I have downloaded Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie on my e-reader. I have never read it but Ashford’s novel has got me interested.