by Barb, who is home in Boston after two and a half blissful weeks in Paris
I was excited last week when Julie posted her blog about one of the greats, Agatha Christie. There was even a bit of a discussion in the comments on that blog of Murder on the Orient Express.
I’m a long time Christie lover. Hers were the books I moved to when I outgrew the Nancy Drews. To me, they will always evoke rainy days at my grandparents’ summer home in Watermill, Long Island, when you could lay around all day and read an entire book. That same grandmother took me to see Margaret Rutherford in Murder She Said, when I was nine. Scared the bejesus out of me.
So when I heard the Museum of the Arab World was having an exhibit of the Orient Express rail cars while I was in Paris, I was all over it.
The Orient Express was a lot of trains and a lot of routes, but the best known was Paris to Istanbul. It was started in 1883 and ran until 1977. There is currently a privately owned train of the same name that runs from Paris to Venice and makes an Istanbul run once a year.
Service was suspended during both world wars, and reached it’s zenith in the 1930s. Christie took the train many times to visit her husband while he was on archaeological digs in the middle east. Once she was briefly stranded due to flooding that washed out the tracks.
For her famous novel, Christie combined two current events. One was the infamous kidnapping of the Lindbergh baby. The other was an incident where the Orient Express was snowbound for six days in Turkey during a blizzard. The European press reported on this breathlessly and daily, so I guess CNN’s wall-to-wall coverage of crippled cruise ships is nothing new. Christie wrote the book in a hotel room in Istanbul.
The exhibit consisted of the rail cars, engine, lounge, dining car and sleeper, as well as materials related to the famous passage. Passengers were honored–both real ones like Josephine Baker and Mata Hari, and fictional ones like Hercule Poirot and James Bond.
Bill and I had great fun at the exhibit. It almost felt like being there.
What do you think readers? Do you love or hate the book or one of the movie versions? Any memorable train trips?