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19 February 2014

Stephen King
Publication Date
horror, suspense

Are you that kind of person who names their car?

Arnie Cunningham is a geeky teenager and it is fair to say he is not one of the popular kids in school. Whilst walking home with his friend one day he spots on old and beaten car (a 1953 Plymouth Fury ) in the driveway of a grumpy old man's house who is wearing a back brace, Roland LeBay. Arnie is strangely drawn to the car and wants to ask the owner if the can buy it. His friend thinks he is mad as the car is old and rusty and if at all drivable, will probably need lots of work and investment. But Arnie wants this car - named Christine - and buys it off LeBay. Arnie hardly gets the car home, its that old and beaten. He eventually gets Christine the car into a local dodgy garage where the owner allows him to put the car in a corner and to work on it as long as he keeps quiet.

Arnie starts to work on the car to repair it, but something is not quite right. Friends and people in the garage notice that the repairs on the car appear somewhat random and sometimes the car seemed to have improved overnight without anyone working on it. It's almost as if the car is reversing to it's glory days. But it's not only the car. Arnie's friends also start to notice a change in him. The previously shy and geeky teenager is becoming initially more confident and cocky but than more and more strange. He also seems to be taken on physical characteristics of LeBay. Than he manages to go out with the popular pretty girl in school. And Christine is not happy, in fact, Christine is not happy with anyone who is involved with Arnie. 

This was the first Stephen King book I read and it sparked a deep love affair. Let me tell you the story how I first 'met' Stephen King.

I grew up in East Germany and I'm not sure whether Stephen King books were 'forbidden' in East Germany. There was obviously a lot of censorship for literature, but I can't think of any reason why King's work would be censored… there are a lot of words I could use to describe his writings, but political propaganda is hardly one of them. In any event, maybe it was just by chance, but I certainly never saw any of King's books in East Germany. I might research this one day, but back to my first King book.

The wall came down in 1989. In 1993, I was 25 and had finally saved enough money to travel to England. I had always wanted to see England, had been my dreams for many years even when the Berlin wall was still up and me on the wrong side of the wall. Air Travel was still very expensive, so a booked a coach for that trip. I knew that the coach trip would take approx 24 hrs, but I didn't mind at all. In fact, as I hardly had left East Germany before and had never seen any of Europe, I couldn't wait for that coach trip, couldn't wait to soak in the strange landscapes and cities I was about to travel through. 

A few days before I travelled, I went to a local department store to get some bits for the journey. I though it might be best to get myself a book, just in case it will get boring on the coach. I didn't think I would even take the book out, as I was looking forward to the journey so much. So, the department store had a few books arranged on a display on the ground floor. I picked up a few and than picked up 'Christine'. Oh, the blurb sounded interesting, so I bought it and it went in my suitcase. 

We left Berlin at 4am on an icy cold February morning en route to London. I took Christine out of my suitcase to start the journey off. What shall I say… I never actually saw any of Europe and was just completely sucked into the story, I didn't look up and by the time we reached London, I had almost finished the book and read the last few lines in my hotel room. Yes, that was my first meeting with Stephen King. A girl who had been living in East Germany for 25 years and her first chance to see Europe, and she abandoned it all for a King book. 

That trip to London, by the way, changed my life completely, as I met the guy who was to become my husband. I met him in February 1993 and I moved to England permanently in April that year and we married on 29th of April 1993. But that is a different story….