A quick word of thanks.
Fiction Interlude: Crocodile on the Sandbank

Who doesn't enjoy Dame Agatha Christie?

No one, that's who.

Recently I plowed through the travel diary The Grand Tour: Around the World with the Queen of Mystery, in which Christie's grandson Matthew Prichard has gathered together her travel diary entries, letters, photographs, and snippets from her autobiography in order to re-create her 1922 world tour. Then a mother of a young toddler (Rosalind, who stayed home with Christie's mother), Christie and her first husband, Archie Christie, were invited to "join a trade mission to promote the British Empire Exhibition."

Even after reading the book, I'm not really sure what the deal was with the British Empire Exhibition. Don't you just love the early twentieth century? Trade missions! Empire Exhibitions! World's Fairs! Sure they didn't yet have antibiotics, but it sure seemed like people in those times knew how to enjoy themselves.

Anyhoo, the long and short of the matter is that Agatha got to accompany her husband on an around-the-world tour to various locations in the British Empire (South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada among them, with time for a side trip vacation to Hawaii), along with various other British dignitary/bureacrat types, in order to finish planning for the British Empire Exhibition. And the lively accounts she gives of her travels, both in her letters and in her autobiography, should not disappoint fans of Christie's mysteries. In fact, particularly while in Africa, you can see how she was already honing her descriptive style of her surroundings, which is a facet of her mysteries I think I always underestimated. And the chapter on Hawaii, when she's obsessed with surfing? Awesome:

"First you have to recognize the proper wave when it comes, and secondly, even more important, you have to know the wrong wave when it comes, because if that catches you and forces you down to the bottom. Heaven help you!" (p. 266.)

Of course she goes on to describe how she once caught the wrong wave. Scrappy gal.

The pictures of Christie herself are a lot of fun, particularly in her surfing get-ups, but most of the other snapshots are of people (mostly other bureaucrats and ex-pats) she met along the way, and are not that exciting. It's a fun book, if you're looking for something a little different in the travel line. (And if you're looking for something a little different in the review line, consider RickLibrarian's.)