Monday, October 19, 2015

Walk like an Egyptian

Fans typically know that Agatha Christie’s second marriage was to Sir Max Mallowan, who was a renowned archaeologist in his own right. He traveled to various Middle Eastern digs, and often Christie went with him.

Though not the spot of any digs, Christie spent a fair amount of time in Egypt, which seems to be the setting for at least five (by my count) works.

  • ·         Death Comes as the End
  • ·         Death on the Nile
  • ·         Parker Pyne – “Death on the Nile”
  • ·         Poirot Investigates  - “The Adventure of the Egyptian Tomb”
  • ·         Akhnaton

Christie was only 20 when she visited Egypt for the first time. Her mother had become ill while Christie was at boarding school. Like many English folk of that age, they decided to stay for three months in the warm climes of Egypt. Christie visited a number of sites, but did not show a passion for archaeology.

 Some of the sites have changed dramatically. The Aswan dam has changed the landscape. The temple of Philae is now reached by a different method than in Christie’s time. The Old Cataract Hotel, where the Ustinov version was filmed, now has a suite named for Christie.

So it really should be no surprise that a young bright young thing (this author) would want to visit the land of the Pharaohs as well. I climbed the side of one of the pyramids at Giza (though it’s frowned upon, but if it was good enough for Simon then it was good enough for me!)

Of course, I chose a Nile river cruise that mimicked the one in Death on the Nile.  I traveled by train to Luxor, the home of the Karnak Temple where some of the scenes take place. The train was an overnight trip, and I slept through most of it.

We arrived in Luxor, where we boarded the ship and then went for a tour. The temple is amazing with columns that stand far taller than any man. It would be easy to imagine some damage coming to a poor little rich girl there. However, I must say that no one died on our tour.

We traveled up the Nile from there to Edfu, which I don’t recall from the books, but our stop was at 4am, so I’ll have to be forgiven for not remembering to look.

The trip was a delight, but given the current situation in Egypt, I’m very glad that I went in 1989. 


  1. Thanks for the peek at your trip to Egypt--taking in some of the same sights as given in Christie's novels. Very nice!

  2. Oh lucky you. Ever since first reading Death on the Nile as a teenage, that's a trip I've wanted to take but never had. And of course, like you, I would take the Christie-style cruise if I did go. But it looks increasingly unlikely as the years go by.