Published by Simon and Schuster on February 23, 2016
Genres: Fiction, Horror, Media Tie-In, Thrillers, Suspense, Supernatural
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"It's love at first sight for high school student Arnie Cunningham when he and his best friend Dennis Guilder spot the dilapidated 1958 red-and-white Plymouth Fury for sale--dubbed "Christine" by its original cantankerous owner--rusting away on a front lawn of their suburban Pennsylvania neighborhood. Dennis knows that Arnie's never had much luck in the popularity department, or really taken an interest in owning a car...but Christine quickly changes all that. Arnie suddenly has the new-found confidence to stick up for himself, going as far as dating the most beautiful girl at Libertyville High--transfer student Leigh Cabot -- even as a mysteriously restored Christine systematically and terrifyingly consumes every aspect of Arnie's life. Dennis and Leigh soon realize that they must uncover the awful truth behind a car with a horrifying and murderous history. Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, and heaven help anyone who gets in Christine's way..."--
Christine is a frightening tale of how quickly your hobby and your passion can lead you down a path of obsession and self-destruction. This is only the second classic Stephen King novels that I have read, the other being IT. I didn’t rate it as highly as I had initially thought but it is a good solid read with strong characterisation, atmospheric dialogue and a narrative that chills the warmest creature. As with most King books I found that the length of the book was unnecessary and could have been told in a lesser amount of pages.
I’m not disputing Stephen King’s genius ability to spin a yarn with the best of them, and Christine is no different, it just wasn’t my favourite. I’m so late to the party but I’m having fun discovering his back catalogue. Although the amount of pages that Christine spanned was a bit of a gripe of mine, I won’t discount just how much depth he injected into the story. Stephen Kings books are deeper than the Atlantic Ocean. I need to be thourghly scared and the concept of a car possessed by a demonic force didn’t butter my parsnips shall we say. I attentively put my kindle to work and I did enjoy the way King reels you in, ready to trip you up as soon as you look the other way.
Christine is a story of four main characters – four characters that bring different elements within the storytelling. Dennis Guilder (Arnie’s best friend) and all-around guy that sees deeper and further than regular guys of the same age. Arnie Cunningham- the owner of the 1958 Plymouth Fury and pizza faced guy that is so socially outcast that Dennis is the only real friend he has. Leigh Cabot – A new girl at school that oddly ends up with Arnie, much to the disgust of the entire school. Christine – a car with a personality all of its own, literally.
It is essentially a love story between boy and car and boy and girl. The minute that Arnie sets eyes on that car he has gone. It is at moment that there is no coming back for Arnie. Dennis has lost the easy friendship that they shared together from that moment on. Despite the well-placed advice and concern towards Arnie from Dennis, he buys that monstrosity of a car, knowing full well what it will take to get her road legal. He is a man possessed.
Arnie begins the odorous job of fixing up Christine and slowly and surely his obsession is cemented when he begins to change himself. He alienates his family (who aren’t very nice anyway and his mother especially seems to live for control) he falls away from Dennis and soon things take a deadly turn. It is apparent to the reader that Christine has supernatural powers that can control the car and seemingly the minds of others.
Christine is both a trip down memory lane with multiple pop-cultural undertones and King has taken a completely incomprehensible situation and brings it to life with such a realistic narrative. Buckle up.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Stephen Edwin King was born in Portland, Maine in 1947, the second son of Donald and Nellie Ruth Pillsbury King. After his parents separated when Stephen was a toddler, he and his older brother, David, were raised by his mother. Parts of his childhood were spent in Fort Wayne, Indiana, where his father’s family was at the time, and in Stratford, Connecticut. When Stephen was eleven, his mother brought her children back to Durham, Maine, for good. Her parents, Guy and Nellie Pillsbury, had become incapacitated with old age, and Ruth King was persuaded by her sisters to take over the physical care of the elderly couple. Other family members provided a small house in Durham and financial support. After Stephen’s grandparents passed away, Mrs. King found work in the kitchens of Pineland, a nearby residential facility for the mentally challenged.
Stephen attended the grammar school in Durham and then Lisbon Falls High School, graduating in 1966. From his sophomore year at the University of Maine at Orono, he wrote a weekly column for the school newspaper, THE MAINE CAMPUS. He was also active in student politics, serving as a member of the Student Senate. He came to support the anti-war movement on the Orono campus, arriving at his stance from a conservative view that the war in Vietnam was unconstitutional. He graduated from the University of Maine at Orono in 1970, with a B.A. in English and qualified to teach on the high school level. A draft board examination immediately post-graduation found him 4-F on grounds of high blood pressure, limited vision, flat feet, and punctured eardrums.
He and Tabitha Spruce married in January of 1971. He met Tabitha in the stacks of the Fogler Library at the University of Maine at Orono, where they both worked as students. As Stephen was unable to find placement as a teacher immediately, the Kings lived on his earnings as a laborer at an industrial laundry, and her student loan and savings, with an occasional boost from a short story sale to men’s magazines.
Stephen made his first professional short story sale (“The Glass Floor”) to Startling Mystery Stories in 1967. Throughout the early years of his marriage, he continued to sell stories to men’s magazines. Many of these were later gathered into the Night Shift collection or appeared in other anthologies.
In the fall of 1971, Stephen began teaching high school English classes at Hampden Academy, the public high school in Hampden, Maine. Writing in the evenings and on the weekends, he continued to produce short stories and to work on novels.
In the spring of 1973, Doubleday & Co. accepted the novelCarriefor publication. On Mother’s Day of that year, Stephen learned from his new editor at Doubleday, Bill Thompson, that a major paperback sale would provide him with the means to leave teaching and write full-time.
At the end of the summer of 1973, the Kings moved their growing family to southern Maine because of Stephen’s mother’s failing health. Renting a summer home on Sebago Lake in North Windham for the winter, Stephen wrote his next-published novel, originally titled Second Coming and then Jerusalem’s Lot, before it became ‘Salem’s Lot, in a small room in the garage. During this period, Stephen’s mother died of cancer, at the age of 59.
Carrie was published in the spring of 1974. That same fall, the Kings left Maine for Boulder, Colorado. They lived there for a little less than a year, during which Stephen wrote The Shining, set in Colorado. Returning to Maine in the summer of 1975, the Kings purchased a home in the Lakes Region of western Maine. At that house, Stephen finished writing The Stand, much of which also is set in Boulder. The Dead Zonewas also written in Bridgton.
In 1977, the Kings spent three months of a projected year-long stay in England, cut the sojourn short and returned home in mid-December, purchasing a new home in Center Lovell, Maine. After living there one summer, the Kings moved north to Orrington, near Bangor, so that Stephen could teach creative writing at the University of Maine at Orono. The Kings returned to Center Lovell in the spring of 1979. In 1980, the Kings purchased a second home in Bangor, retaining the Center Lovell house as a summer home.
Stephen and Tabitha now spend winters in Florida and the remainder of the year at their Bangor and Center Lovell homes.
The Kings have three children: Naomi Rachel, Joe Hill and Owen Phillip, and four grandchildren.
Stephen is of Scots-Irish ancestry, stands 6’4″ and weighs about 200 pounds. He is blue-eyed, fair-skinned, and has thick, black hair, with a frost of white most noticeable in his beard, which he sometimes wears between the end of the World Series and the opening of baseball spring training in Florida. Occasionally he wears a moustache in other seasons. He has worn glasses since he was a child.
He has put some of his college dramatic society experience to use doing cameos in several of the film adaptations of his works as well as a bit part in a George Romero picture, Knightriders. Joe Hill King also appeared in Creepshow, which was released in 1982. Stephen made his directorial debut, as well as writing the screenplay, for the movie Maximum Overdrive (an adaptation of his short story “Trucks”) in 1985.
Stephen and Tabitha provide scholarships for local high school students and contribute to many other local and national charities.
Stephen is the 2003 recipient of The National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters and the 2014 National Medal of Arts.
Originally written by Tabitha King, updated by Marsha DeFilippo.
Photo Credit: Shane Leonard