How Agatha Christie Saved My Life

Original image source: unsplash

Original image source: unsplash


Today’s guest post is the first in a series. Every Monday, a different blogger, writer, friend will contribute a post about a writer or book that inspired them or even changed their life. Today’s Monday Inspirations post is written by Gulara Vincent.


It was 1997. At age 22, I was in a dysfunctional relationship with an older man. ‘Dysfunctional’ is the understatement of the century, by the way.

I was locked up for the first two years of our relationship. It was for my own good, he convinced me. I did not act as a conventional young woman should in Azerbaijan, my country of origin (i.e. save my virginity for my husband), and therefore was not to be trusted to act sensibly if left to my own devices.

During that time, I lived in isolation with no friends, family or allies to support me. On a scale of 1 to 10, my self-worth, self-acceptance, and self-love were below 0. I still marvel at the fact that I managed to preserve my sanity during that period. Locked up for hours, sometimes days, I spoke out-loud to hear a human voice.

But… I found a passion that kept me sane. I decided to learn English.

After nagging this man for months, he finally relented and bought me a box of random books in English. They ranged from Agatha Christie’s mystery novels to ‘How to run a kite’ and cocktail recipes. As a child, I loved reading mystery novels. So, putting all other books aside, I set out to read Agatha Christie’s detective stories.

I read them for 12 hours a day. When I started, I did not know five out of six words in a sentence. Leafing back and forth through my little yellow dictionary, I wrote each new word into a notepad, carefully memorising them. It was torture to move at such a slow speed, because I could not wait to find out who the villain was!

Within a year of reading Agatha Christie’s novels, I enrolled in a Masters’ course in international law in English. My hunger to grow and learn led me to continue my education in Birmingham, England, in 2005. Fully-funded first by the British Council and then by the University of Birmingham, I successfully completed another Masters’ course and a Ph.D. in Human Rights Law.

And all thanks to my love for Agatha Christie’s books.


Dr Gulara Vincent is a writer, blogger and university law lecturer. She blogs regularly at You can visit her Facebook page at


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30 thoughts on “How Agatha Christie Saved My Life

  1. Wow, what a journey! Your determination and perseverance is admirable, Gulara. So pleased your able to escape your prison and take your rightful place in the world. I’m sure Agatha Christie, if she were still alive, or indeed any writer, would be honoured to have played a role in your salvation. Thanks for bringing us this story, Ula, and what a great start to your series!

    Liked by 2 people

    • This story is what I had in mind when I was thinking of writers and books as inspirations (although I don’t think I’d ever imagined such a moving story), so I agree with you, Anne, that this is a good beginning.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you so much for sharing this incredible story. It is interesting how that journey of incredible achievement and change can begin with such humble beginnings…which is so encouraging. That through such small beginnings, big things can follow. Well done Ula and Gulara xx Rowena

    Liked by 2 people

    • I bet Agatha Christie didn’t realize the impact her words would one day have. I guess none of us do, whether it be the written or spoken word.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Thank you everyone for your comments. I’ve had an extra busy week, so I’m sorry I haven’t replied to each and every one of you individually. Thank you for reading and sharing this beautiful story. Make sure to come back Monday for another contribution.

    Liked by 1 person

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  8. An amazing story, Gulara. I had no idea your past was sobhorrific–I don’t know that even Agatha could have saved most and it’s a testament to your remarkable strength. It only makes me want to read your memoir even more.


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