I originally was drawn to Lindsay Jayne Ashford’s “The Woman on the Orient Express” because it centers around one of my all-time favorite authors. Set one year after Agatha Christie’s infamous 10-day disappearance, it follows her as she journeys to Baghdad.
First off, I’d like to point out that this is a fictional tale that merely involves two real-life people. That said, it was a highly enjoyable read.
Ashford’s prose is quite good — it flows in an easy manner, pulling in readers even if they are unsure about the story itself.
While there were certain artistic liberties taken with the lives of real people — and I didn’t always agree with Ashford’s interpretations — it honestly felt like all of these events actually could have happened.
Ashford does a really amazing job of creating very complex characters. While there was a real-life template for several characters, there is very little information actually available concerning their lives.
While I thought Ashford sensationalized Christie’s disappearance in ways that can’t actually be proven — which I guess kind of is the point; no one really knows what happened during those missing days — she drew these three troubled women in a very sympathetic light.
She also handled the emotional aspects of the novel quite well, making the reader feel for each of them and their circumstances.
The setting is wonderfully detailed — I could picture all of the locations with ease.
Novels such as this make me long to live in a time when travel to a lot of these countries still was safe.
Some people have started this book while thinking it’s a mystery, which is not true in the traditional sense.
The mystery truly lies in what really is a mystery to us all — what actually is going on inside another person.
Ashford does a marvelous job of creating tension and pulling in readers desperate to read just a little more.
If you enjoy historical fiction — and don’t mind a little historical fact-bending — give “The Woman on the Orient Express” a shot.
I’m sure glad that I did.