A Winsome Archaeological Memoir

Come, Tell Me How You Live: An Archaeological Memoir 
Agatha Christie Mallowan 
WILLIAM MORROW

Reviewed by Benjamin Schwarz

April 2012 Atlantic

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Just reissued, Christie’s witty account of her yearly expeditions in Syria in the 1930s with her second husband, the esteemed archaeologist Sir Max Mallowan, is at once a captivating depiction of quotidian life at archaeological digs and a romantic portrait of adventurers and scholars in the interwar Near East. Her relaxed narrative of the organization and effort in archaeological investigation (Christie balanced work on her fiction with the cleaning, cataloging, and labeling of the finds) and of the landscape and people in the region is engrossing—but what makes this book bewitching is the nostalgic glamour that infuses it. Enduring drab, dangerous wartime London, Christie occupied herself with war work but also with writing this Mesopotamian chronicle because she wished “to remember that there were such days and such places”; the result is an airy, winsome recollection tinged with a sense of irretrievable loss.

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