Joan Scudamore travels from Iraq back to England. In Iraq she helped her youngest daughter who just had a baby, but now she is on her way back to her husband.
Joan is quite pleased with her life and how things turned out. Her husband Roddy is a country solicitor, and both her daughters and her son are married and happy. She herself has a lovely life.
But when the train she is supposed to take is not able to be on time due to the rains, Joan finds herself stuck in a hotel in the middle of the desert. She read both her books and has no paper to write letters and no needlework. She had nothing to do but think.
And gradually she realizes that her life may not be so perfect as she thinks. Her husband is not happy, and her children were also not happy in her house. Joan always decided what was best for them, without giving any thought to what they wanted or liked. More and more she realizes she needs to change things, beginning the moment she will arrive home with Rodney.
This book was written by Agatha Christie, but under her penname Mary Westmacott. This is not a detective, but a novel, and I had no idea what to expect from it. But I can tell you that I really enjoyed it. The writing is very good, like we know Agatha Christie could write, with good observations and natural dialogues.
I liked how Joan first does not want to acknowledge what she knows deep in her heart, and how she tries to find excuses for all the little incidents that happened in the past, telling her how her view differs from that of everybody else. But gradually, in the hot sun and with no company or distraction giving her a way out she must accept that her life is not as perfect as she wants it to be.
And I also loved the ending. I will not tell more, because I do not want to spoil it, but I thought it was realistic and true.
Absent in the Spring is a perfect little novel, and I am glad I also have the other books by Mary Westmacott, because I think I will enjoy those as well.
Published in 1944