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Come, Tell Me How You Live by Agatha…

Come, Tell Me How You Live (1946)

by Agatha Christie

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6471523,059 (4.07)83
Agatha Christie's memoirs about her travels to Syria and Iraq in the 1930s with her archaeologist husband Max Mallowan Agatha Christie was already well known as a crime writer when she accompanied her husband, Max Mallowan, to Syria and Iraq in the 1930s. She took enormous interest in all his excavations, and when friends asked what her strange life was like, she decided to answer their questions in this delightful book. First published in 1946, Come, Tell Me How You Live is now reissued in B format. It gives a charming picture of Agatha Christie herself, and is, as Jacquetta Hawkes concludes in her Introduction, 'a pure pleasure to read'.… (more)
  1. 20
    Murder in Mesopotamia by Agatha Christie (VivienneR)
    VivienneR: The memoir may have been the inspiration for the mystery.
  2. 10
    Agatha Christie and the Eleven Missing Days by Jared Cade (rretzler)
  3. 00
    Europe in the Looking Glass by Robert Byron (CarltonC)
    CarltonC: If you enjoyed the travel aspects and humour of Christie's memoir, you will enjoy this.
  4. 00
    The Life and Crimes of Agatha Christie by Charles Osborne (y2pk)
    y2pk: More about Agatha Christie's life.

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English (14)  Italian (1)  All languages (15)
Showing 1-5 of 14 (next | show all)
This is a fun read. Started before WW2 as a means of answering her friends when they asked how she lived when on a dig in the dessert this was finished about 10 years later and is a slightly nostalgic look back at a time and place that was no more. I'm not sure very many of Christie's books give away what a fun character she must have been. She tells all of their adventures, trials and tribulations with a self deprecating air, half the time the joke is on her. The tale of finding a hat was delightful, how many times have we known what we want yet been completely unable to find it. I'm with her on the attraction of one more pair of shoes, despite the doubt of the customs agent! She describes the people she meets with a vaguely paternalistic air, but it isn't too grating on the ear. It has an interested, benevolent air rather than a belittling one. The places she visits are familiar now for very different reasons, they are now no longer recognisable as the busy towns she passes through.
There's little in detail about archeology in here, this is the archeologist's wife describing day to day life and the things that crop up to surprise them. Which she does with great charm and humour. ( )
  Helenliz | Oct 18, 2017 |
Breezy, affectionate memoirs of digging in Syria in the '30s with her husband, Max Mallowan. Christie wrote up her notes about 10 years later, when WW2 was still raging and pleasant memories of that lost world were welcome. Given that there is not a speck of humor in any of her mystery novels, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that she could see the funny side of what were often very rough and dirty conditions. She could also poke fun at herself, whether in the preparations for the journey (the clerks steer her toward the "OS" sizes, that is, out-sized) or in some of the strange encounters with the local villagers. Another surprise (to me, at least, who is not really a Christie mystery fan) is that Christie neither drank nor smoked. Shattered my image of her pounding away on a typewriter with a cigarette smoldering in an ashtray next to her and a glass of something on the table. ( )
  stringcat3 | Aug 28, 2016 |
Have you ever heard what a person did for a living and wondered what it was really like? In this case, it wasn't famed archaeologist Max Mallowan who answers this question but his famous wife, Agatha Christie, the revered mystery writer, who set out to answer the question she often got at dinner parties about what she did on her husband's archaeological expeditions. Who better to write this happily enchanting and engaging memoir of several seasons in Syria excavating promising tells (man made mounds indicating the presence of past settlements), uncovering the mysteries of the past than the Grande Dame of Mystery herself?

Agatha Christie Mallowan was funny. She was observant. She was self-deprecating. And she's eminently readable. Undertaken to explain Christie Mallowan's life and experiences in the Middle East, the memoir, firmly grounded in the pre-WWII time period, was started and then put aside, only being finished at the close of the war, after the world she was chronicling was already slipping into memory. From detailing her preparations to leave England, such things as the necessity of vast quantities of pens and watches and shoes (the latter being Christie Mallowan's desire), the difficulty of finding appropriate clothing in a large enough size, and trying to jam too many books into already over stuffed luggage to the realities of life in the dusty and hot fields, the delicate dance of propitiating the ruling sheikhs, the sometimes seemingly inexplicable conflicts between local workers, the different personalities on the dig, and observing the attitudes towards women in contrast to British attitudes at the time, no detail is too small for Christie Mallowan's pen to capture. She shares crazy and unpredictable adventures as well as the every day domesticity of living in tents and in native homes. She writes of the archaeological practices of the day, some of which probably make modern archaeologists wince, and of the nerve-wracking practice of splitting finds between the country of origin and Britain. Her very real love and affection for the people and the place come through her casual, chatty narrative.

Christie Mallowan is very much a woman of her time in terms of her attitude toward to native people and some of her observations clearly come from a place where she is the vaguely paternalistic "civilized onlooker" as compared to their position of "noble savage." But her own self-deprecation helps to mitigate this for modern readers and most of her observations generally come off with an air of old-fashioned charm. She is, after all, writing about people, both European and Middle Eastern, who no longer exist as they are drawn here. Because of this vanished way of life, disappeared to both the reader and to Christie Mallowan equally, and perhaps because she herself didn't finish writing it until it was gone, there is a real feel of nostalgia for a simpler, bygone era in these pages. But the nostalgia is not the whole story; it's not even the majority of it. The majority is a fascinating look into the growing field of archaeology, the people who practiced it, and one remarkable wife who turned her pen to explaining it in a mostly lighthearted, funny, well-written book. When the reader turns the last page it is with true regret that there is not more time to be spent in the sandy, stifling heat and blinding sun of 1930s Syria in the delightful company of their witty dear friend Agatha Christie Mallowan. ( )
1 vote whitreidtan | Nov 9, 2015 |
In Come, Tell Me How You Live, Agatha Christie Mallowan reflects on her time accompanying her archaeologist husband Max Mallowan on his digs in Syria. Adapted from her recollections of the 1930s, the tone reflects a colonial perspective of the Syrians and neighboring peoples and tribes, approaching the "noble savage" stereotype at points. Her descriptions of the digs themselves fall short of a proper archaeological record, but reflect the popular attitudes toward such enterprises, where a certain devil-may-care attitude pervaded and finds deemed "trivial" or "insignificant" are tossed away rather than carefully cataloged as archaeologists would today.
Come, Tell Me How You Live is a memoir very much of its time, reflecting the attitudes and prejudices of its day. Though progressive for her day, Christie's attitudes will appear backward by modern standards. The final section of Chapter 12 and the Epilogue show that, even as she compiled this volume, Christie was more concerned with the memory of happier times while living in the latter days of World War II than in providing a sound academic record of archaeological digs in the period. Fans of Christie's writing or scholars of the period are sure to find insight in this volume, but it may not appeal to the casual reader. ( )
1 vote DarthDeverell | Aug 26, 2015 |
Not so much an archaeological memoir, as a memoir about a time (1930's) and places (Orient Express, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq) that I imagine have changed beyond recognition.
This memoir and travelogue clearly shows the author's happiness at that time, which she conveys so wonderfully in this brief book, so full of love and humour.
There is little about archaeology, it is about the sights, sounds, smells and above all the people that she encountered. I was enchanted.

I read this having previously read "The 8:55 to Baghdad: From London to Iraq on the Trail of Agatha Christie and the Orient Express" by Andrew Eames. This memoir is a far better book, but if you enjoyed it, you will probably find Andrew Eames' attempt to recreate the journeys that Agatha Christie made interesting. ( )
  CarltonC | Mar 22, 2015 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Christie, Agathaprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Hawkes, JacquettaIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pryce-Jones, DavidIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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To my husband, Max Mallowan; to the Colonel, Bumps, Mac and Guilford, this meandering chronicle is affectionately dedicated.
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Foreword: This book is an answer.
Chapter One: In a few weeks' time we are starting for Syria!
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Agatha Christie was already a celebrated writer of mysteries when, in 1930, she married the archaeologist Max Mallowan. In the pre–war years thereafter, Christie enthusiastically joined her husband on various archaeological expeditions in the Middle East, and these shared adventures, these happy and memorable times, provided her not only with the background for several of her novels, but also with the “everyday doings and happenings” which she zestfully describes in the pages of this high–spirited memoir,
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