Absent in the Spring First Edition Cover 1944

Dust-jacket illustration of the first UK edition

Absent in the Spring
is a novel written by Agatha Christie and first published in the UK by William Collins & Sons in August 1944 and in the US by Farrar & Rinehart later in the same year. It was the third of six novels Christie wrote under the nom-de-plume Mary Westmacott.

Explanation of the novel's titleEdit

The title is a quotation from Shakespeare's sonnet 98: "From you have I been absent in the spring,..."

Plot introductionEdit

Stranded between trains, Joan Scudamore finds herself reflecting upon her life, her family, and finally coming to grips with the uncomfortable truths about her life.

Literary significance and receptionEdit

The Times Literary Supplement's review of 19 August 1944 by Marjorie Grant Cook stated positively, "The writer has succeeded in making this novel told in retrospect, with its many technical difficulties, very readable indeed. She has not made Joan, with her shallow, scrappy mind, sympathetic, and the other characters in the tale, seen through her eyes, lack the charm they had for each other and withheld from her."

J. D. Beresford's review in The Guardian of 25 August 1944 concluded, "It is a very clever and consistently interesting study of a character that not even a desert vision could permanently change."

Publication historyEdit

  • 1944, William Collins & Sons (London), August 1944, Hardcover, 160 pp
  • 1944, Farrar & Rinehart (New York), 1944, Hardcover, 250 pp
  • 1967, Dell Books, Paperback, 192 pp
  • 1971, Arbor House, Hardback, 250 pp
  • 1974, Fontana Books (Imprint of HarperCollins), Paperback, 192 pp
  • 1978, Ulverscroft Large-print Edition, Hardcover, 300 pp; ISBN 0-7089-0115-8

The novel was first serialised in the U.S. in Good Housekeeping in two abridged installments from July to August 1944.

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