‘Unfinished Portrait’ by Agatha Christie

149222“… a blend of real people and events … In Celia we have more nearly than anywhere else a portrait of Agatha” – Max Mallowan

Unfinished portrait, it is one of the six novels written by Agatha Christie under the pen name ‘Mary Westmacott‘. The book showcases the unique narrative skill of Agatha Christie.

The book starts with a foreword in the shape of a letter from the author to a friend in the book trade. The author is a portrait painter who is not able to practice his craft and has taken up writing. He tells us about his meeting with Celia, the subject of the book, in an exotic island when she was at the most difficult point of her life, contemplating suicide. He managed to dissuade her and took her to his hotel where she recounts the story of her life.

She lost her father when she was very young. After that everything was her dear mother and her elder brother Cyril. Celia becomes more attached to her family home after the early death of her father. She has an eccentric but loving granny who lives in London.

Eventually she marries young Dermot, who is rather poor, but seems to madly love her. They live in comparative poverty. Later on he finds a good job and take up golf and spent lesser and lesser time at home. Celia finds a creative outlet, writing stories not based on reality but just what she dreams up, which is cruelly diminished bi her unimaginative and two dimensional husband. Unfortunately for Celia their daughter, Judy, takes after her father which makes Celia feel like an outsider in her own married life. And this leads her to the verge of suicide.

This story is rather heart touching and at the same time is mysterious. My favorite character is Celia’s mother, Miriam, as she is so loving and caring. The book gripped me and made me turning the pages. I rate this book 100 out of 100. I recommend this book to all Agatha Christie as it is one of her best novels.

Reviewed by Janaki Devi. R.

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