Lilian Min
September 15, 2015 12:18 pm

When you read Gillian Flynn’s blockbuster thriller Gone Girl, you can tell that she knows her mystery novel basics. Which is why when we heard that Flynn is a big Agatha Christie fan we were like, “duh, of course!” But, one writer has made the bold claim that Christie herself (like IRL Christie) was the direct inspiration for Flynn’s Amazing Amy, and honestly? We totally buy it.

Christie, known for now-iconic stories like And Then There Were None and Mystery on the Orient Express, wrote 66 detective/mystery stories in her lifetime, but a strange thing happened after she wrote the first three books. Flush off of this beginning success, Christie was a literary star — and then on December 3, 1926, she disappeared. Officials started a manhunt; huge amounts of people combed the area around her house on foot; her husband Archie became the main suspect. If this sounds familiar, it should, as should what happened next.

SPOILER ALERT!

Like Amy Dunne, Christie found out that her husband was having an affair with a younger woman, and didn’t take the news well. Also like Dunne, Christie’s flight was done in a way so as to immediately cast a shadow on the reputation of her cheating husband. And the coup de grace: Christie was found 10 days after her disappearance, living in a hotel and under an assumed name. After writing the entire episode off as a bout of amnesia, she returned to the rest of the world and went on to have a legendary writing career. Amazing Amy, for her part, “rescued herself” from an ex-boyfriend to return into her suddenly innocent husband’s arms.

Of course, there are huge differences between the stories: Christie didn’t leave a trail of inside jokes/incriminating evidence for her husband to discover, and Dunne’s story took quite the murderous turn. But both left with huge caches of cash; both assumed new identities (though Dunne was much more careful in this regard); both arrived back home with a flurry of press and attention.

You can read the entire tale here, but it’s safe to say that Flynn must’ve known about this story, which means that it’s almost certain that she adapted elements of it into the twisty, sensational read we all love and/or love to hate. Real life is often stranger than fiction — and as someone who dabbled in the latter, Christie was certainly no stranger to planning a good story.

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[Image courtesy of 20th Century Fox, via here.]

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