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The Girl On The Train
Author: Paula Hawkins

Publisher: Random House
ISBN: 978-0857522320
Pages: 320
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I grew up in Zimbabwe, in the heart of southern Africa, glorious but sadly landlocked. Our annual summer holiday was spent at the house where my mother was born, on the KwaZulu Natal coast of South Africa.

The two-day car journey started in darkness, my brother and I roused from our beds ours before the sun came up, installed on the back seat with a barrier of pillows between us to prevent squabbling (it didn’t work). At my feet, there would be a pile of novels: long, long before the days where children could be happily entertained Frozen playing on the iPad, books were the only way to get through that seemingly endless car journey with any sanity.

So by the time the sun was high in the sky, I’d be half way through my Agatha Christie, only occasionally looking up to see if I might spot a warthog by the side of the road. By late afternoon, as we crossed the Limpopo, muddy and slow and surly as the dour Afrikaans border guards, I might even have figured out who the killer was. Lying in bed in a motel room in the Soutpansberg mountains, I might have moved on to Harper Lee or a bit of CS Lewis. And so it went on until the following afternoon when finally, (finally), I’d put down my book and train my eyes on the horizon, hoping to be the first to see the sea.

I can still feel the flip in my stomach as we turned down the dizzyingly steep driveway above the cottage, I can still smell it, salt and mussels, I can still feel the whip of the wind off the Indian Ocean, still feel the warm, pale sand beneath our feet as we sprinted, my brother and I, liberated at last from incarceration in the back of the car, onto the beach.

Our days were swimming, turned head-over-heels by heavy surf, picking mussels off the rocks, looking out for whales on the horizon. My mother and I could spend hours picking our way through the rock pools, looking for brightly coloured sea anemones that closed over the tip of your finger when you poked them, or watching fat, orange crabs scuttle slyly into the cracks between slabs of hot, black granite.

Very often though, we could be found lazing on the front lawn with our books. And I think perhaps I have never been happier.

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