Murder on the Orient Express

by Barb, who is home in Boston after two and a half blissful weeks in Paris

orient2I 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.

orient4So 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.

orient6orient10Service 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.


The Lalique insets in the bar car.
The Lalique insets in the bar car.



Ms. Christie's hat and coat
Ms. Christie’s hat and coat

 What do you think readers? Do you love or hate the book or one of the movie versions? Any memorable train trips?



22 Thoughts

  1. What an elegant way to travel for those who could afford it. I’m sure there must also have been 3rd or 4th class too. The pictures are beautiful.

  2. What wonderful photos! I’s so glad you got the chance to attend the exhibit. I think the Wickeds would love to go on the once per year trip to Istanbul together!

  3. Start saving those royalty checks. Here are the prices for 7-day, 2015 trip next August.

    2015 rates
    Double Cabin $9,270
    Cabin Suite $17,840

    Prices are per person and include all table d’hôte meals and accommodation as noted. A cabin suite is two double cabins connected by a private, interior door. Click here for cabin details.

  4. I absolutely loved seeing your photos from Paris, but these photos are my favorite. How I wish I could have lived in the 1930’s and traveled aboard this magnificent train! I have taken quite a few train trips. I don’t fly. My family and I have traveled four times across the country by train and, believe me, our car, though very nice, was nothing compared to the ones in your photos. Thank you for sharing.

  5. Great pictures.

    And here’s where I have to confess that I have read very few Agatha Christie mysteries, including those starring her most famous sleuths. In fact, I have never read Murder on the Orient Express. I really do need to fix that some day.

  6. Paris to Istanbul – what an amazing trip that would be! I love all Agatha’s books, not sure I could choose a favorite.

  7. Hi Barb.

    I, also, progressed from Nancy Drew (and the Dana Girls and Trixie Belden and six other such series) to Agatha Christie. I loved Margaret Rutheford as Miss Marple.
    I’ve taken a train often on my trips to Russia (or the Soviet Union). It’s always a bizarre experience, each different in its way.
    My most memorable was the trip my brother Greg and I took on black market tickets in November 1991, just before the Soviet Union disintegrated. We were riding illegally in a Soviet Citizens’ car, sharing it with a just-retired interrogator from the Soviet Military who’d learned his English from the interrogation manual. He told us we were the first Americans he never arrested. He protected us all the way to Plisetsk, where they shot off rockets. I was there to photograph, as usual. He told me I should come to Plisetsk. I’d get wonderful photos. Unfortunately, then, I could never leave.
    I must write about this someday.
    I loved your latest book. I see Boothbay Harbor all over it. I note the Boothbay festival thing is coming right up. Will you be there?

      1. All my Russian train trips were unusual and astounding, each in its own way. I’m not sure how i could fit any into a cozy set in Maine. I’ve gone there eight times and have taken many of these journeys alone. There was one in which I stayed awake all night in my long underwear in November on the top bunk because the drunken guy in the booth opposite kept lurching over and his hand would end up, across the narrow cabin, on my leg. I wrote a lot in my journal that night. Got a poem from that episode.

    1. Hi Carol–I missed the celebration in Boothbay. I am flat on my back with a virus. At least I didn’t gt sick while I was abroad. As for your trip–amazing!

  8. What gorgeous photos, Barb! Thank you so much for posting. What a treat!

    I read the book when I was about 13 and remember loving it, although I recall very little. The film version I saw was a lot of fun but only remember that it was a B&W saturday afternoon movie on TV.

  9. Where was I when this post went up? Book Jail isn’t a good place to be for awareness. I so envy you going to that exhibition. It looked great!

    As for movies–the 1974 version is WONDERFUL, though Albert Finney is over the top as Poirot. The perfect Poirot, David Suchet, had his own run at the novel, and it was terrible IMHO. Strayed too far from the book. I can expound on that in great detail if you would like. What a wasted opportunity.

    Great post!

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