As a huge fan of Agatha Christie, I was intrigued by The Woman on the Orient Express by Lindsay Jayne Ashford, a historical fiction novel about Agatha Christie’s own, eventful trip on the Orient Express. Recovering from a divorce that caused her mental breakdown and seeking an exotic adventure in the Middle East, Agatha boards the Orient Express to heal.
Fate leads her to Katharine Keeling, her cabin mate, and Nancy Nelson, both women with painful secrets of their own traveling and trusting the train to bring them to better futures. Agatha learns that Katherine’s husband died in mysterious circumstances while Nancy is pregnant with an illegitimate child from her affair (somewhat straining their relationship since Agatha is a victim of infidelity). Katherine invites Agatha and Nancy to the dig site where she works, and in the weeks that follow, their lives will change forever.
One of the reasons why I enjoy Agatha Christie’s novels so much is because she has compelling mysteries with developed characters and imagery. While no one can completely emulate her writing, this book does a great job in staying true to both the time period and Christie’s writing style. I can imagine that a huge amount of research went into the writing process because there are so many rich details and descriptions of all the destinations in the book. Every meal in the book is like a Michelin review–Ashford vividly details the spices and the scents, and it’s very pleasing to the senses. Despite being very descriptive, the novel was never tedious and the mystery stretched out nicely until the end, which I thought was a very satisfactory conclusion.
This novel was obviously more fiction than fact-based, and some of the characters were invented for the purpose of the story, but I found it interesting that some portions were factually true. Writing historical-fiction can be very difficult, but Ashford did an amazing job writing a captivating mystery with beautiful imagery and characters that I could truly empathize with. I highly recommend this novel, especially if historical fiction is new for you. For me, The Woman on the Orient Express was a great introduction to a very under-rated genre, and I will definitely go out of my way to read more historical fiction in the future!
Maria Tews is a high school student in Northeastern Connecticut. Maria loves reading, writing, and a hot cup of tea.
Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Lake Union Publishing. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.