Wednesday, September 13, 2017

The International Agatha Christie Festival & Come, Tell Me How You Live

The International Agatha Christie Festival 2017 kicks off today through the 17th in Torquay, UK, Agatha Christie’s birthplace on the English Riviera.  Lorraine Masonheimer has read the book that inspired this year's festival and she is here to share it with us. 

Based at Torre Abbey, the biennial 5-day festival features artists, writers, performers, scientists and special guests from across the globe to share their stories, ingenuity and imagination for observing and understanding the world and it’s many cultures through objects from ordinary lives, lectures, film, dance, visual art, music and of course literature.  
This year’s festival is inspired by Agatha Christie Mallowan’s 1946 non-fiction book Come, Tell Me How You Live. While Agatha was a passionate traveler throughout her life, this book is a simple telling of her time with the people of the Middle East, the fertile country, the cultural differences and the archaeological digs she shared with her second husband Max Mallowan.  Picturesque and lively, she writes as an amused observer of the human experience of their expeditions and how the European and Asiatic cultures and the servants and aristocrats intersect throughout the excavations. 
Strikingly, Agatha speaks of this memoir as “not an escape to something that was, but … something imperishable that one not only had but still has.  … the things that I love shall not have perished from this earth….”  However, the very ruins of Syria and Iraq that Max and Agatha excavated were looted and bulldozed by Isis in 2015 including Palmyra.  
The objects found during their time in the Middle East added vastly to the world’s knowledge of early Mesopotamia and many still exist in museums around the world.  Agatha’s writing was influenced as well completing two or three books a year during this period of time.  Some of her best known novels with strong archaeological detail include Murder in Mesopotamia, Death on the Nile, Appointment with Death, They Came to Baghdad, and Murder on the Orient Express.  Her “telling” ensures her experience, the people and their culture does not perish but continues on.
Agatha’s grandson, Mathew Prichard, inspired by her life and legacy created the International Agatha Christie Festival in 2014.  Their mission is to find, nurture and tell stories near and far, to inspire imagination and advance the possibilities of literature across all platforms, cultures and histories worldwide.  The organization enjoys year around artist and writer residencies, commissions and collaborative projects in addition to the biennial festival.  Dame Agatha Christie Mallowan and her husband Sir Max Mallowan led extraordinary lives and their contribution to the world lives on.

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