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The Christie Affair

Quick Recap & Summary By Chapter

The Full Book Recap and Section-by-Section Summary for The Christie Affair by Nina de Gramont are below.

Quick(-ish) Recap

The three-paragraph version: In December 1926, Agatha Christie goes missing for 11 days (resulting in a nation-wide search) after her husband Archie announces he's leaving her for his mistress, Nan O'Dea. In a flashback to her younger years, we learn that Nan once fell in love with a boy in Ireland, Finbarr. She got pregnant and was sent to a convent where the nuns permitted her and another girl, Bess, to be sexually abused by the priest, Father Joseph. She was forced to give up her baby.

In 1929, Agatha ends up seeking out Nan during her disappearance, prompted by Finbarr who showed up trying to win Nan back. Agatha's adopted daughter Teddy is likely the baby that Nan had taken away from her, which is why Nan has tried to seduce Archie. When two dead bodies (Mr. and Mrs. Marston) turn up at the hotel Nan is staying at, it turns out that Mr. and Mrs. Marston are actually one of the nuns from the convent (Sister Mary) and Father Joseph -- they had decided to run away together. Bess and Nan devised a plot to get revenge/justice by murdering them.

Meanwhile, Agatha engages in a romance with Inspector Chilton, one of the inspectors tasked with finding her. Chilton covers for Nan's crimes (saying that Mrs. Marston poisoned both her and her husband) once he understands what happened. The book ends with Nan choosing to marry Archie in order to be with Teddy, Finbarr returns to Ireland, and Agatha goes to be with Chilton.

The book is narrated by Nan O'Dea, the mistress of Archie Christie, and jumps back and forth from the days around disappearance of Agatha Christie and Nan's younger years in England and Ireland.

In Part I, Nan urges Archie to finally leave his wife, Agatha Christie, who is a well-known writer. Agatha and Archie have a daughter, Teddy. Nan doesn't love Archie, but she wants him anyway.Archie goes out to buy an engagement ring and the next morning he breaks the news to Agatha. Agatha is heartbroken.

The next morning, no one can find her and Agatha's car is discovered hanging precariously off the edge of a chalk pit. A nation-wide search for Agatha begins. Archie tells Nan to stay away for the time being, and Nan goes North to Yorkshire to stay at the Bellefort Hotel and Spa. There, Nan comes across her former love, Finbarr Mahoney, who is looking for her. Meanwhile, Inspector Frank Chilton is one of the many men searching for Agatha and he also goes to stay at the same hotel. As he conducts his search, he happens upon Agatha staying at a manor house nearby.

Nan also narrates about her past in Ireland. She grew up in a family of girls in England and spent summers at her Uncle's farm in Ireland. In Ireland, she meets and falls in love with Finbarr, a boy a few years older who helps out around her Uncle's farm. When WWI starts, Finbarr enlists and goes off to war. During that time, Nan's older sister Colleen gets pregnant, gets kicked out of the house by their father and kills herself.

When Finbarr returns from the war, he and Nan plan to get married, and they sleep together. Finbarr soon falls gravely ill from the flu, and Nan learns she is pregnant. Recalling what happened to Colleen, Nan leaves home and goes to find Finbarr's family in Ireland. However, the Mahoneys refuse to take her in, and Finbarr is too weak to have a say. Instead, they drop Nan off at a convent.

In Part II, we learn that Agatha had been distraught and got into an accident. She had narrowly missed running into Finbarr, who had received a letter from Nan not too long ago describing her affair and her plan to seduce Archie. Finbarr was looking to talk to Agatha, since it seems they have a mutual interest in preventing Nan's plot. Coincidentally, an elderly lady with dementia, Annabelle Oliver, had abandoned her car a short distance away from Agatha's accident. Finbarr and Agatha took the abandoned car and drove off, ending up at the manor house where Chilton found Agatha (and Finbarr).

At the Bellefort Hotel (where Chilton and Nan are staying at), Nan meets the various guests including a number of couples on vacation. Tragedy strikes when one of the couples, Mr. and Mrs. Marston, is poisoned. Mr. Marston is found to have been injected with potassium cyanide, and his wife somehow ended up ingesting Strychnine later that night. An American couple, Lizzy Clarke and Donny, depart right after the murders. There's also a young but very unhappy couple there, Mr. and Mrs. Race.

After finding Agatha and Finbarr at the manor house, Chilton permits Agatha a day before turning her in. When he returns the next day, she is gone. However, when Finbarr comes to see Nan at the hotel, Chilton recognizes him and is able to follow Finbarr to the new house that he and Agatha are staying (squatting) at. Chilton finds himself attracted to Agatha and unable to turn her in. He and Agatha kiss and eventually sleep together. Agatha reveals that Nan is pursuing Archie because she believes that Agatha's (adopted) daughter Teddy is the daughter Nan had taken away from her many years ago.

Flashing back to Nan's time at the convent, the pregnant girls there were put to work and not permitted to leave. They stayed until they gave birth and they were kept there to nurse the babies until they were adopted out. She soon learned the priest there, Father Joseph, was sexually abusing one of the girls, Bess. When Bess left, Father Joseph's attentions turned to Nan.

When Nan finally gives birth, Nan names the baby Genevieve and hopes to find a way to escape with her. However, before she can, Genevieve is adopted away to an English family. Nan is furious and attacks Sister Mary Clare, who had pretended to be her friend while subjecting her to these horrors, but she doesn't kill her. Nan then escapes the convent and goes home. She learns that Finbarr has been writing to her, not having been told what happened to her. When he finally arrives in England looking for her, Nan tells him about Genevieve and sends him away. One day, Nan spots Teddy and is certain that Teddy is her daughter Genevieve.

In Part III, Chilton and Agatha investigate the Marston murders and learn that Mrs. Marston was once a nun and Mr. Marston was a priest. They recently renounced their vows and married. Chilton and Agatha piece together that Mrs. Marson is Sister Mary Clare, Mr. Marston is Father Joseph and that Nan is likely the one that killed them.

We additionally learn that Bess and Nan were in on it together, both determined to get justice for their time at the convent. Lizzy and Donny Clarke were actually Bess and her husband, and Mr. and Mrs. Race were Bess's sister and brother in law.

Agatha tries to convince Chilton not to arrest Nan and instead accept that justice was served. Chilton, Agatha, Nan and Finbarr spend a few more happy days at the manor house. Finally, various reports of sightings of Agatha in the area result in Archie showing up at the Bellefort Hotel. He's relieved to find her, and Agatha claims she does not remember what happened. Chilton knowingly reports the false conclusion that Mrs. Marston must've poisoned her husband and then poisoned herself, thus letting Nan off the hook.

While Agatha leaves with Archie, their marriage soon ends Nan then marries Archie and they raise Teddy together (she chooses Teddy/Genevieve over Finbarr), and Finbarr returns to Ireland. (The book leaves it slightly ambiguous weather Teddy really is Genevieve.) As for Agatha, after her marriage ends, she goes looking for Chilton, and they embrace.

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Section-by-Section Summary

Part I
Part II
Part III

Part I

Here Lies Sister Mary

The book introduces the narrator (Nan) who says she nearly killed a woman one decade ago.

One Day Before: Thursday, 2 December 1926

On December 2, 1926, Nan O’Dea urges her lover, Colonel Archie Christie, to leave his wife. Archie is married to Agatha Christie, 36, whose mother, Clarissa, passed away a few months ago. They have a young daughter, Teddy. Agatha is accustomed to seeing Nan around. Nan works for Arthur (a friend of Archie’s) at the Imperial British Rubber Company.

Today, Agatha, a famous and successful writer, reminds Archie that she has a meeting with Donald Fraser, her new literary agent. Agatha also invites Nan to have lunch with her, and Nan accepts. Meanwhile, Archie has plans that day to buy Nan an engagement ring for when he leaves Agatha. Over lunch, Agatha and Nan make small talk. Right before it’s over, Agatha confronts Nan about sleeping with her husband, saying that Nan doesn’t love him and that she should “leave him to the person who does”.

Nan knows it’s true that she doesn’t really love Archie, but has no plans to leave him. When she returns after lunch, Archie reassures her that he’ll break the news about their affair to Agatha that night.

In recounting the story later, Archie tells Nan that that night, at the Christie residence (named Styles after one of the mansions in Agatha’s books), he’d delayed telling her out, she’d gone to bed and he had ended up telling Agatha he was leaving her the next morning.

However, Nan imagines what must’ve really happened — that Agatha had made a last-ditch effort to seduce Archie that night and that they’d been together one last time and that perhaps they’d even exchanged “I love you”s.

Last Day Seen: Friday, 3 December 1926

The next morning, Agatha wakes up from her nice night with Archie in a good mood. However, Archie’s demeanor is stern and he takes her into his study to tell her that he’s leaving her for Nan and that he wants a divorce. He says that they’ll have to list “adultery” as the reason for divorce, but tells her to list it as being with an “unnamed third party”. He wants to keep Nan’s name out of it, since it’s likely to be reported in the papers due to Agatha’s level of fame.

As Agatha becomes upset, Archie tells her that he’s leaving to stay with their friends the Owens for the weekend, along with Nan. Agatha kicks him in anger, and he walks out as she calls out after him. Upstairs, Honoria — Agatha’s personal assistant and Teddy’s nanny — wakes Teddy for school, overhearing the spat.

Here Lies Sister Mary

In present day, Nan (our narrator) reflects upon the past. She thinks back to when she was 19 and pregnant. Finbarr Mahoney was the baby’s father, though was ill at the time (though he later recovered). Fearful of how her parents might react to her pregnancy, Nan had run away to seek out Finbarr’s family in Ireland. However, they were unwilling to take her in, and Nan was consequently dropped off at a convent to live.

Nan had been born into a family of girls in England — along with Coleen (eldest), Megs (older), and Louisa (younger). She was doted on by her father and cared for by her mother. The summer Nan was 13, she had gone to stay for the summer at a farm in Ballycotton (in Ireland) belonging to her Uncle Jack and Aunt Rosie, along with their young son Seamus.

Years before, at their farm, she’d met Finbarr, who Uncle Jack had hired to do some farm work. Finbarr was the son of a fisherman. The summer Nan is 13, she falls in love with the experience of being at the farm and being around Finbarr. After that, she continually begs her parents to send her back. She returns the summer she is 14, and again when she is 15.

By August, the country is at war (WW1), and Finbarr volunteers to join the British Forces. Before he leaves, he kisses Nan and gives her a ring, a Claddagh (a traditional Irish ring).

Last Day Seen: Friday, 3 December 1926

Afterwards, Agatha goes into Archie’s study and writes him a letter. Despite reports to the contrary, Agatha never contemplated suicide. Instead, she tries to think of how she could win Archie back. She then goes to walk with Honoraria as they walk Teddy to school. Teddy walks ahead of them along with their dog Peter, and they see her talking to a man. When they catch up to Teddy, Teddy says that the man was Mr. Sonny, and she shows them a carved figurine of a dog that he gave her.

Later, back at home, Agatha hopes that her husband will simply change his mind and return home, suitcase in hand — but it doesn’t happen.

Meanwhile, Nan and Archie are off at their weekend getaway with Noel and Ursula Owen at their cottage in Godalming. Nan shows off the temporary engagement ring that Archie gave to her, and Archie tells him that he’ll soon replace it with something nicer. Nan also wears her Claddagh ring still, but Archie has never asked her about it.

Elsewhere, near Sunningdale, Miss Annabelle Oliver is 77 and wakes up feeling disoriented, thinking that she is a young girl headed to a party. She gets dressed and decides to go for a drive in a black Bentley she sees outside. The car is her brother’s but she doesn’t remember that in the moment. Instead, she heads down the road aimlessly until she crashes it in on a country road. She is injured, but she walks off, still disoriented until she finds somewhere to lie down on the ground.

Day One: Saturday, 4 December 1926

On Saturday, Archie is awoken by a knock on the door. He’s informed that Honoraria says Agatha has gone missing. Archie is dismissive upon hearing the news, saying that it’s just a “ruse” by Agatha to get him back. However, a police officer shows up with instructions to take him back to Sunningdale, and Archie agrees to go with the officer. Nan offers to drive Archie’s car back.

At Styles, Archie is questioned by the police. Meanwhile, Nan goes upstairs to give Teddy a gift of a Winnie-the-Pooh book, and they read it together and both fall asleep. Nan is awoken by Honoraria who is upset with her for her involvement in the whole affair. Archie also tells her that she needs to stay away for a while since it looks bad for her to be around while Agatha is missing.

By now, Agatha’s Morris Cowley (car) has been discovered parked at the “lip of the chalk pit below Newlands Corner” with a “fur coat, a packed suitcase and a driving licence” found in the back seat. The car has an engine full of petrol and there doesn’t appear to be any mechanical issues with it. Agatha’s typewriter is also missing. There’s a body of water, the Silent Pool, a little ways off from where they found the car, and the police plan to dredge it if Agatha doesn’t turn up soon.

Archie has a letter (presumably from Agatha), but he tears it up and throws it into the fire. Nan thinks about how if Agatha is really gone, then she could take her place as Teddy’s mother and how they could be a family at Styles. Still, she tells herself she wants Agatha to be found “whole and healthy”.

Later, with Agatha still missing, Nan calls Archie, who is now feeling guilty about Agatha’s disappearance. He tells Nan that perhaps it’s better if they don’t communicate until it all gets sorted. Nan has plan to take a holiday in Harrogate for the next week, and she starts packing for it.

Nan suspects that Agatha went missing because she had been planning on driving to Godalming to confront her and Archie and to make a scene. She imagines that perhaps Agatha was driving distractedly due to her anger, ended up off the road and wandered off into the cold. Alternatively, Nan imagines that Agatha could be on a ship in a first-cabin headed to America.

Meanwhile, Nan thinks about Finbarr, who she last saw some years ago. He’d cried for their lost child, and he’d wanted Nan to go back to Ireland with him where he planned to work training herding dogs. However, she’d refused. This past summer, Nan had written to Finbarr updating him on her impending engagement, but she never received a response.

Here Lies Sister Mary

Reflecting again on her younger years in Ireland, Nan thinks about how she’d been at the farm when she’d learned that her sister Colleen had died.

Upon hearing the new, Nan immediately leaves to go home to England. When she gets home, she learns that Colleen killed herself because she was pregnant (the father, a philosophy student, had left for war and never returned her letters) and their father turned Colleen out of the house. He’s also now refusing to have a funeral for her. Nan’s mother starts squirreling away some money in a tin, and later tells the girls that if any of the rest of them get in trouble like that, to come to her first. (In the next chapter, Nan mentions how she later left without telling anyone but with all the money in the tin, so her mother likely understood what had happened.)

The war drags on for four years. On Armistice Day, Nan is finally reunited with Finbarr.

Day Two: Sunday, 5 December 1926

On Sunday, a missing person’s notice is sent out regarding Agatha’s disappearance. They note that she was last seen on Friday at 9:45 PM, after saying she was going out for a drive.

Sam Lippincott, the police chief, calls Inspector Frank Chilton, a 40-year-old former police inspector who retired last month, to ask for his help in the investigation, since they’re planning on scouring “every inch” of England for Agatha. Lippincott suggests that Frank stay at a hotel that his cousin and his wife, Simon and Isabella Leech, own in Bellefort. Frank agrees to do it, and proceeds to head up North by train.

As the search for the famed Agatha Christie swings into motion in an exhaustive search, Honoraria wonders where Agatha is. She’d gotten a letter from Agatha before she left, saying that she was headed to Torquay for the weekend, but it was the discovery of the abandoned car that worried everyone. Also, the police had checked at Torquay and Agatha was nowhere to be found. No one knew what Archie’s letter from Agatha had said.

Day Three: Monday, 6 December 1926

On Monday, a newspaper article fleshes out some more details about the disappearance, about how Agatha’s car had been found just at the edge of a chalk pit with the front wheel hanging off the edge of the edge.

Upon police questioning, one of the Christie’s parlourmaids, Anna, tells the police about the fight between Agatha and Archie that she’d overheard, and she reveals that Archie was having an affair. The Berkshire Police start considering more seriously whether Archie could have been the one to kill Agatha.

Meanwhile, Archie goes to Scotland Yard to ask them to help in locating Agatha, but they say that they’ll only get involved if the local police ask for their assistance. Dejected, he starts thinking back through their relationship, how they fit together and how they’d fallen in love. That night, Archie puts Teddy to bed, which he has never done before.

At the Bellefort Hotel and Spa, Nan checks in under a false name, Mrs Genevieve O’Dea (Genevieve being the name that she’d named her lost child). She’s greeted by the owner, Mrs. Leech, a black woman. She soon meets some other guests of the hotel — an American couple, Lizzie Clark and her husband Donny Clark; an older couple on a honeymoon, Mr. and Mrs. Marston; and a young attractive couple, Mr. and Mrs. Race.

Lizzie comments that the young couple seems to argue all the time. Lizzie also tells Nan about how she lost her first child just after it was born, and Mrs. Marston mentions how she hopes it’s not too late for her to have a child.

Meanwhile, Inspector Frank Chilton checks into the hotel, too. Over breakfast, he meets a young woman who is traveling alone named Miss Cornelia Armstrong. He then heads into work and he and Lippincott discuss whether this whole thing is some type of publicity stunt for Agatha Christie.

Nan is surprised when Finbarr shows up at the hotel looking for her. He tells her that he thinks that she should put her plot (regarding getting together with Archie) behind her and go home with him to Ballycotton instead. He says that his father (who turned Nan away) has passed away and they can live peacefully at the farm there. However, Nan rejects this idea. She wonders how he knew where to find her.

Here Lies Sister Mary

In present day, Nan thinks back to after Finbarr’s return. She and Finbarr slept together and she soon found out she was pregnant, however, she also got a letter from him saying that he’d come down with a fever. The flu had been sweeping through the area and Uncle Jack died from it.

Knowing how her father had reacted to Colleen’s pregnancy, Nan waited until her mother was out buying groceries to take the money from her mother’s tin and head for Finbarr’s family home.

At the Mahoney’s, Mrs. Mahoney tells Nan that it’s not safe for her to see Finbarr due to his illness. As Nan insists on seeing Finbarr and says that they’re supposed to be getting married, Mrs. Mahoney seems to piece together that she is pregnant. The Mahoneys let her see him briefly, but he is barely able to move. Instead, they gives Nan some food, but lets Nan know that she needs to leave.

Day Three: Monday, 6 December 1926

Nan soon comes across Chilton at the hotel, and Mrs. Leech explains that he’s part of the search for Agatha Christie. Over breakfast, the group watches as Mr. and Mrs. Race get into a fight that results in Mr. Race grabbing his wife’s arm and her stomping on his foot.

Then, shortly afterwards, Mr. Marston seems to be choking on something. Mrs. Race is a nurse and she tries to help, but he dies. Upset by the commotion and the death of Mr. Marston, Nan goes back to her room and falls asleep. She’s awoken by a scream.

Day Four: Tuesday, 7 December 1926

Nan goes to check out the commotion and learns that Mrs. Marston is also dead. Miss Cornelia Armstrong wonders if Mrs. Marston died of a broken heart due to the death of her husband, commenting that Mr. and Mrs. Marston had been “star-crossed” lovers (meaning that there were obstacles to their relationship) before they married.

When Chilton learns of the second death, he asks the doctor about the circumstances. The doctor mentions giving Mrs. Marston a sleeping draught the night before. On the road, he passes by Finbarr talking to Nan, recognizing Nan as one of the people he had met at the hotel.

Chilton makes his way to a modest country house where Agatha Christie opens the door.

Part II

Day One: Saturday, 4 December 1926

After leaving her home 9:45 on Friday, Agatha had returned home, but set out again just after midnight on Saturday the 4th. Driving down the road, she had narrowly missed hitting a man on the road and crashed instead. The man she’d missed had com to help her out, who turned out to be Finbarr, on his way to speak to her about Nan.

After helping her out of the crashed vehicle, Finbarr suggests the two could help each other out. Given her vehicle is inoperable, Fibarr say he came across an abandoned vehicle (the one belonging to Anabelle Oliver) nearby that they could use instead. Agatha loads some basics into the abandoned car, though she forgets her suitcase, and they drive off.

Here Lies Sister Mary

In present day, Nan writes about how she ended up having a daughter, Rosie, with Archie, eventually, though it never made up for her lost child.

She then thinks back to her time at the convent. She recalls how girls were put to work in exchange for staying there, with a few days off after giving birth. The girls all seemed to hold on to hope that the fathers of their children would at some point come to fetch them from the convent. Nan recalls a day where Father Joseph had summoned on of the girls, Bess.

Day Four: Tuesday, 7 December 1926

When Chilton shows up at the house that Agatha is staying at, Agatha knows she has made a mistake by answering the door. Chilton recognizes her immediately and says that he’s been tasked with searching this area for her, though he’s surprised to actually find her there. Finbarr is at the house, too.

Agatha insists to Chilton that he is mistaken and that she’s not Agatha Christie. Chilton knows she is lying, and he tells her that he will give her another day to sort herself out, but that he’ll return tomorrow.

Day Five: Wednesday, 8 December 1926

On Wednesday, the police question Archie about his affair. Afterwards, Archie thinks about a story Agatha had once written called “The Edge”. It’s about a cheating husband and the wife who throws her rival off of a cliff.

As the investigation continues, Annabelle Oliver’s body is found. When the police tell Archie that a body has been found, he feels devastated thinking that it’s Agatha.

Meanwhile, in Yorkshire (up north where Chilton and Agatha are), Lizzy and Donny announce that they are cutting their vacation short and returning to America. By now, Finbarr has told Nan that he’s staying nearby with Agatha. That morning, Chilton sits down with Nan over breakfast and tries to chat with her, but Nan makes her excuses and leaves.

Chilton returns to the house where Agatha was yesterday, but he finds that she and Finbarr have disappeared without a trace. As much as he wants to tell Lippincott to call off the search, he knows that it’ll look bad for him professionally to say that he found Agatha but then lost track of her again.

Here Lies Sister Mary

In present day, Nan writes more about her time at the convent. The girls weren’t permitted to leave the convent. At some point, it had become clear that Bess was being sexually abused by Father Joseph and that the nuns knew about it, even Sister Mary Clare who had been the youngest and kindest nun. Nan overhears Father Joseph talks about how the nuns are perfect angels, but that the pregnant girls are the “most wretched devils”. Nan worries that Father Joseph’s attentions will someday turn to her.

One day, Nan asks Sister Mary to write to Finbarr on her behalf and ask him to come for her, and Sister Mary reassures her that she’ll do it, though Nan is unsure whether she actually will. When Bess tells Sister Mary that she feels ill and asks to be taken to the hospital, Sister Mary allows Bess to take the day off from doing work, but she brings Bess to Father Joseph to be raped instead.

Afterwards, Bess continues to feel unwell. That night, Bess is unable to awake. They take her to the hospital where she delivers a stillborn baby. That same night, the father of Bess’s child, an American solider, finally arrives to claim her. Bess leaves with him, holding her dead baby in her arms.

Day Six: Thursday, 9 December 1926

Back at Styles, Archie is wracked with guilt. He thinks to himself that he’d give Nan up if only Agatha would come back. By now over a thousand men have been tasked with the search for Agatha.

In Harrowgate, an autopsy of Mr. Marston reveals traces of potassium cyanide and a mark on his hip, indicating that it was injected through his trousers and therefore his death was a result of foul play. Mrs. Marston was also poisoned, having been found to have ingested Strychnine somehow. Lippincott wonders if Mrs. Marston poisoned her husband and then killed herself. Chilton is unsure, noting how happy the couple had seemed.

Later that night in the library, Chilton tries to ask around to see what the other guests know about the Marstons. As Miss Armstrong talks about how “star-crossed” they’d been, Chilton wonders if perhaps Mrs. Marston had made a point of telling everyone about their love story for a reason. When Nan joins in the conversation, she expresses more skepticism over the Marstons, saying that it’s hard to know what actually lies underneath their happy veneer.

By now, Chilton has pieced together that he saw Nan with the same man that had been staying with Agatha, but he says nothing. He also notes that Nan is holding a handkerchief embroidered with an N although she claims her name is Genevieve.

Afterwards, Nan gets a note from Finbarr asking her to meet him later that night. She shows up and Finbarr takes her to the manor house (which Nan refers to as Timeless Manor) where he and Agatha are now staying. Finbarr asks Nan once again to leave with him so they can be together. She doesn’t respond, but they kiss and sleep together.

Unbeknownst to Nan and Finbarr, Chilton had followed them to the manor. He goes into the house and finds the room that Agatha is in. She is displeased to see him. Chilton notes how he followed Finbarr and another woman into the house. Agatha admits who she is and explains that the woman is the mistress of her husband, Coronel Christie, and that she is soon to be his wife.

Agatha pleads with Chilton to have a few more days before he tells others about locating her. Chilton finds himself attracted to her and is reluctant to report her and never see her again. He knows he shouldn’t, but agrees on the condition that she promise not to move again. Before he leaves, Agatha kisses him.

Day Seven: Friday, 10 December 1926

By the seventh day, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, 67, has taken an interest in Agatha’s disappearance. Donald Fraser, Agatha’s new agent, takes a meeting with him, though he doubts Doyle will be of any use to the investigation. At the meeting, Doyle suggests enlisting the help of Horace Leaf, a well-known European clairvoyant who lives in London.

When Nan awakes in the morning, Finbarr asks her again to return to Ireland. However, Nan refuses again, noting that Ireland is where are all the bad things in her life happened to her.

Chilton awakes early that day feeling happy, and he sets upon continuing to investigate the Marstons. When he hears some commotion, he goes to check it out and find Mr. and Mrs. Race in the midst if an altercation with Mr. Race grabbing his wife’s wrist roughly. He intervenes and splits them up, telling Mr. Race to go cool off. Chilton takes Mrs. Race into the hotel kitchen and fetches her a cup of tea. Mrs. Race tells him that she knows he’s a “brute”, but her family won’t permit a divorce.

At Timeless Manor, Agatha is sitting at the dining table when Nan walks in. They greet each other politely, but coldly. Agatha talks about how they don’t know when the house’s owners will return. Finbarr soon joins them and the two women continue talking.

As Nan reflects on the events at Timeless Manor much later, she thinks about how, after-the-fact, no one ever asked her if she knew anything about Agatha’s disappearance since no one had considered whether they might be friends. She also thinks about how the reason Agatha stayed quiet about what happened during that time period was to protect her (Nan) and not herself.

Here Lies Sister Mary

In present day, Nan thinks back to 1919, around the time the war erupted between the Crown and the IRA. Bess ends up marrying her American soldier and moving to Philadelphia. With Bess gone, Father Joseph’s attentions turn to Nan.

Day Seven: Friday, 10 December 1926

In Sunningdale in the afternoon, Teddy sits at the window, hugging a stuffed rabbit that Agatha had given her. By now, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle has also called Archie to tell him that the psychic he consulted says that Agatha is dead. Dorothy Sayers, another famous medium, has joined in on the search as well. Archie drives to where his mother, Peg Helmsley, lives, and she complains about how embarrassing the whole affair is for their family.

In Harrogate at the hotel, Chilton tries to make conversation with Nan, but she excuses herself. Chilton then heads to the library and asks for any books by Agatha Christie, but they’re all checked out. Instead, he runs into Agatha there, to his surprise and delight. The librarian there seems to recognize Agatha. Chilton and Agatha chat a little, and Chilton agrees to drive her back to the manor.

At the manor, Nan and Finbarr are readying for a game of tennis when Chilton and Agatha drive up. Finbarr invites them to play as well and the four spend the day playing tennis. That night, Agatha sleeps with Chilton. Afterwards, Agatha tells Chilton the truth about Nan and Archie. She says that Nan is Archie’s mistress because Nan believes that Teddy is her daughter (with Finbarr) that she gave up during her time at the convent.

Here Lies Sister Mary

In present day, Nan thinks back to August 5, 1919, the day her daughter Genevieve was born. For ten days, she was permitted to rest, hold and nurse her baby. After that, she was returned to the convent and only allowed to see and feed her at a specific time. Nan begs to be assigned to be a night attendant in order to see her baby. Nan is soon presented with papers to sign, permitting the convent to put her baby up for adoption.

Soon, a man arrives looking to adopt a baby. Later, when Nan goes downstairs to check on Genevieve, she sees that her baby is gone. When her fears are confirmed, that the baby has been adopted out to an English family, Nan is furious. She lashes out at Sister Mary Clare, who had allowed all these terrible things to happen to Nan while pretending to be her friend. Nan reaches out and chokes the nun, but stops before she is dead.

Nan then runs away from the convent. Alarms sound to the summon police for her recapture, but a police emergency happening elsewhere allows Nan to escape.

Nan comes across a farm run by two women, Vera and Martha, who feed her, clothe her and help her. They then buy her a ticket to England and send her on her way. When Nan return home, she sees that Finbarr has been writing her and wondering why she hasn’t responded. It was clear he never knew that she’d been in Ireland. Soon, Finbarr shows up in England looking for her, however, Nan tells him what happened with their baby and she send him away.

Nan gets a job working at Buttons and Bits, and she finds herself scouring each baby she sees to see if it’s Genevieve. One day, she come across a girl, Teddy, that she is certain is her.

Part III

(This section opens with the letter Nan wrote to Finbarr on September 16, 1926, telling him about her intention of marrying Archie in order to be a stepmother to her daughter.)

Day Eight: Saturday, 11 December 1926

With Nan still determined to proceed forward with her plan of marrying Archie, Finbarr turns to Agatha for help in convincing Nan that Teddy isn’t Genevieve. However, Agatha responds that she doesn’t know if she wants her husband anymore and she thinks she could live without her family.

On Saturday morning, Agatha happily wakes up in bed with Chilton. They both imagine a future together. Chilton soon heads out to investigate the murders at the hotel.

When he arrives there, he sees Mr. Race smoking a cigarette. He notices that after dropping it on the ground, Mr. Race picks it up and pockets it. Then he sees Mrs. Race step out and look delighted to see her husband. When they notice Chilton’s presence, their demeanor immediately changes. When they walk away, Chilton notices that they are both speaking to each other with Irish accents. That night at the hotel, Chilton asks Nan if she knows anything about Mr. and Mrs. Race, but Nan has nothing to say about them.

Back at the manor house, Nan suggests to Finbarr that he move to England. That way, she could continue with her plan but see him as well. Finbarr recoils at the idea. He suggests simply kidnapping the girl, but Nan doubts they could get away with it. Finbarr continues to insist that the only solution is for Nan to simply come back to Ireland with him, but Nan has no intention of ever doing so.

Upstairs, Agatha does some writing of her typewriter. Chilton interrupts her, and Agatha suggests they take a trip to the baths. They go to Karnak Baths and Spa near the hotel where they run into Miss Armstrong, who assumes that Agatha is Chilton’s wife. As they make small talk, Miss Armstrong mentions that Mrs. Marston was once a nun and Mr. Marston was formerly a priest. They’d recently both renounced their vows and run off together. They’d been at an orphanage in Sunday’s Corner, Ireland (the convent where Nan had been). (In the narration, it confirms that Mrs. Marston is Sister Mary Clare).

Afterwards, Chilton concludes that Nan is likely the killer and that he’ll need to apprehend her. However, Agatha argues that justice was served and to let Nan get away with it, saying that “what some call murder others might call justice”.

With Agatha having been missing for over a week, Archie finally starts to wonder where Nan has been. He goes to where where Nan lives, but her neighbor Mrs. Kettering says that Nan hasn’t been around lately.

Here Lies Sister Mary

In present day, Nan recalls how she stayed in touch with Bess after she left and how Bess struggled afterwards, missing her dead son. She is unable to move past what Father Joseph took from her. Then, one day she learns that Sister Mary Clare has recently run off with Father Joseph and were off to honeymoon at the Bellefort Hotel.

Soon, Bess and Nan had hatched a plan together.

Day Five: Wednesday, 8 December 1926

The day Lizzie Clark (who is actually Bess) announced she and her husband were returning to America after the murders, she knew Chilton had been listening in on her conversation. Sister Mary Clare hadn’t recognized then (since to her, all the girls were the same), though Father Joseph did which is why Bess killed him first, before he could reveal their identities.

Bess’s sister Kitty and her husband Carmichael played Mr. and Mrs. Race. They’d initially had a row (fight) over the plan, so they ended up keeping up with the act of pretending their marriage was troubled so others wouldn’t suspect their fight had anything to do with the murders.

With Father Joseph dead, Bess could finally move forward. Nan was the one who wanted Sister Mary dead. Since Sister Mary hadn’t recognized her, Nan had been able to bring her a poisoned cup of tea without suspicion. Afterwards, Nan finally felt calm for the first time since she’d choked Sister Mary.

Day Eight: Saturday, 11 December 1926

On the night of the eighth day after Agatha’s disappearance, Chilton and Agatha tell Finbarr what they’ve learned. Finbarr seems to approve of Nan’s actions. Chilton warns he’ll have to arrest Nan, but Agatha urges him to her escape. Reluctantly, Chilton agrees to hold off for at least a day.

Days Nine and Ten: Sunday and Monday, 12 – 13 December 1926

At the manor, things are gleeful between the four of them. However, by now, the Harrogate librarian, Miss Barnard (who though she recognized Agatha that day at the library), seems increasingly certain she’d seen Agatha that day. She calls the police in Leeds to report it. Elsewhere, Miss Harley who works at the Karnak gift shop has also reported seeing Agatha. She says she went by the name Miss O’Dea and was staying at the Bellefort Hotel and Spa.

On Monday, Teddy awakes to see that her father has fallen asleep in her room. Archie has been depressed and agitated since Agatha’s disappearance. Teddy tries to comfort him by patting him on the head.

Our Last Day: Monday, 13 December 1926

Nan reflects on how many years later the manor house would continue to represent of place of happiness and peace for her. The last night at the house, Finbarr asks Nan about what Chilton has said about her committing murder. Nan tells Finbarr about her escape from the convent, and about Father Joseph and the rest of it. Nan denies being a murderer, merely saying that she “made my own justice”.

Finbarr asks Agatha to convince Nan that she’s wrong about Teddy, but Agatha says that Nan is right. She was unable to conceive so Archie adopted a girl for them instead. Finbarr is surprised, since that’s not what Agatha has been saying to him.

In retrospect, Nan thinks that perhaps Agatha was lying about Teddy not being hers and that she perhaps wanted to let Nan believe that she had finally been reunited with her daughter, especially since Agatha’s marriage was over anyway. However, it’s also possible that Agatha said this because it was the truth. (The book leaves it purposefully vague at to whether Teddy really was Genevieve.)

Day of Discovery: Tuesday, 14 December 1926

Tuesday morning, Chilton suggests to Agatha that they run away together, and she agrees. They go to the Bellefort Hotel so Chilton can collect his things.

Meanwhile, Archie has arrived at the Bellefort Hotel along with Lippincott. He is shown the guest ledger and recognizes Agatha’s handwriting which she signed as “Miss O’Dea”. Archie planning to wait in a drawing room for her, but instead he and Lippincott spot Agatha and Chilton coming downstairs together.

Upon seeing Agatha, Archie feels a rush of relief, and he kisses her hand. When he asks her where she’s been, Agatha claims she can’t remember.

Upstairs, Nan is packing, knowing that she’s likely to be outed soon. She gives her suitcase to Miss Armstrong and asks her to hold it for her. When she sees a chance to leave unnoticed, Nan escapes the hotel and drives off. Only Chilton sees her leave.

Downstairs, Chilton asks Mrs. Leech to please tell Lippincott that Agatha has been staying at the Bellefort under the name Genevieve O’Dea. In exchange, Chilton then announces that he’s determined that the Marstons murders were both caused by Mrs. Marston (killing her husband and then herself) — which is what Mrs. Leech had wanted him to conclude in order to prevent the spectacle of a murderer at large at the hotel.

With everything settled, Archie tells Agatha to collect her things so they can depart. When they are alone, Archie tries to ask Agatha more questions about what had transpired, but she is unresponsive. She continues insisting she doesn’t remember anything. She leaves a note asking Chilton to fetch her typewriter and papers and return them to her. Chilton decides to bring her things home with him in hopes she will go find him there.

Nan ends up deciding to drive to the train station and leave Finbarr behind because she still wants to be with the child she believes is Genevieve. With her name cleared by Chilton, she is free to return to Archie and resume her position as his new wife.

A New Year: 1928

Archie and Agatha’s marriage eventually ends, and Nan reappears in his life. By 1928, Nan and Archie are married. Agatha sends Teddy back to Styles to be raised while she goes off to have adventures on the Orient Express.

The wooden dog that Sonny — who was actually Finbarr — carved for Teddy sits on Teddy’s windowsill. Finbarr returned to Ireland and married an Irish girl and had three sons.

As for Agatha, the narration indicates that this part is subject to some creative license by Nan. A month after her disappearance, Agatha takes Teddy and seeks out Chilton in Brixham. They embrace.

(Nan narrates that she’s choosing to end the story here on a happy note.)

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