The Girls – Emma Cline



the girls

I was interested to read this book, and it was a good read. It’s the story of a girl who was ‘almost’ – almost remembered, almost revered/reviled. In the right place at the wrong time.


Evie is a middle aged woman who is house-sitting for a friend in California, when her friend’s estranged son and his young girlfriend visit unexpectedly. She is encouraged into telling her story of how she was part of a cult when she was a teenager.


The story is told in flashbacks, as vignettes, snapshots of young men and women living together in the Summer of Love era. The days are hot, the food is scarce and they live on lust and drugs.


Evie’s story is wistful, and because there isn’t really anything about the thirty years inbetween now and then, it feels like she’s been stuck in time, not being able to move forward from that episode. Without introducing spoilers, I thought that Evie regretted her part in it, and wished for something more. Something more impressive.


The book was a good read and I thought it was well written, but there was something lacking for me. I expected there to be something else coming round the corner, and it never did.


Number 15 – Luxembourg Night Marathon


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After doing the Rotterdam marathon in April in horribly warm weather (that was the same day as the Norwich Half), we looked forward to the Night Marathon because of course it wouldn’t be hot.



Numbers pick up!

Forecast the week before was 30degrees +, and as we went into the weekend it stayed that way. Great for a long bank holiday weekend – not so good for long running!


I hadn’t been to Luxembourg before, and while it was quite scenic, I found it to be surprisingly seedy. We stayed in an IBIS hotel which appeared to be in the middle of the red light district, next to the train station. Ladies in very high heels sat outside the neighbouring clubs and men asked if we wanted to buy any recreational substances. All very exciting.


I learned from the last night marathon I did (Tromso) not to eat too much during the day, so I made sure I had a normal sized lunch. It was really hot.



The beer was delicious

The expo is past the airport but buses were easy to get around on and were a flat rate of €2 each way. The start and finish are at the expo – The Box exhibition centre, which was quite handy. The expo itself was decent enough and the goody bag had loads of things in it – a Luxembourg buff, waffle, orange, sweat band, temporary tattoos…


The race started at 7pm and we stood outside in the pens for about half a hour before we got going. It was 32 degrees and it was hard work standing still – this was going to be tough.

My husband and I had talked about doing it together –my training hadn’t ramped up since Rotterdam’s heatwave and his hadn’t been as consistent as he’d have liked. We were still pretty confident that we could get him a PB – 4.50. Oh, the naivety of youth!


The race was friendly and we set off in good spirits. Within the first mile or two we realised we would be running between aid stations, spaced around 2k apart. It was just too hot to try anything else. This was a good strategy as two of our friends DNFd at mile 17 ish, with nothing left in the tank.

The aid stations were well stocked with water, cola, energy drink and fruit but I was surprised to see spectators and relay runners who had finished miles before taking from them and chatting, on the course. It’s the first race I’ve been in where I’ve felt the the marshalls were there to stop you from cheating and not entirely to help you.  The course is a series of twists and turns and out and backs, so they obviously do need to keep an eye on this.



Mid race – thanks to the wonderful Alig, spectator extraordinaire

We passed through half way in 2h27 – still just about on target if we could do a negative split.  It’s also the only race I’ve done where you can choose to drop down to the half while you’re on the course – you just take the left hand turn called ‘Half Marathon’. That was a tough choice!


It’s a really lonely course and I was glad to have my husband with me – don’t do it on your own. There’re only 2000 marathoners and it was a bit unnerving run/walking through parks with no marshalls, no barriers and only the mist to keep us company.

Conversely, there are bits through the city centre which were obviously designed to be fun but I found to be a bit claustrophobic – the spectators were drunk by then and it was all quite close. Some of them were laughing at us too, which wasn’t very nice. I shouted at a couple of mean women who mockingly told us to ‘allez’ and then cackled at my ‘merci’. Not kind. The people of Luxembourg do not speak English willingly, and we got a couple of blanks when we didn’t speak French beyond the standard touristy phrases. After spending time in countries where  the inhabitants love speaking English, this was a bit of a surprise.

The last four k was a slog back to the exhibition centre and the finish. We picked up a guy who was sitting on the road – we got him up and walking and I told him in my pidgin French that he had to keep moving to get his bag with his clothes and beer. He said he wasn’t ill or sore, just tired, so I hope our gee up made him keep walking as we jogged slowly away.

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Finally we were coming down the ramp with the wax lamps beside us, red hot after so long alight. We ran into The Box for our first indoor finish, and were cheered over the line by cheerleaders and announced too, hand in hand and very relieved to have finished in 5 hours and 26 minutes.  We got our medals, which are pretty nice,  and were cheered in by our friends – one of whom finished 90 minutes later than expected due to the heat.



Recovering on Monday with some nice walking about in the caves

Although I know that the heat was a massive factor in my not enjoying the race, but I wouldn’t do it again. I loved running with my husband on his second marathon and would definitely do that again – maybe we’ll train properly next time!

If you really feel like that review sold it to you, here’s the link:

If you’re looking for a night marathon, do Tromso’s Midnight Sun – friendly, small field with a nice route.

Marathon 15 done – next stop, two weeks of recovery followed by some summer training to get me in shape for Chicago Marathon!

Big Little Lies


I read Big Little Lies, by Liane Moriarty, because I was fascinated while watching the series and wanted to know more about the characters. It was also recommended by a friend of mine with similar taste to mine, always a good bet!

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This is the book review, but I want to draw out some parallels between the two, especially as Moriarty was involved in the process to the extent that she’s a credited producer.


Jane, Madeline and Celeste all have children in the same class at an idyllic school in a beautiful beachfront town. It’s Australia in the book (Monterey in the TV series).  It’s an affluent community, with lots of powerful egos hiding behind a façade of politeness.

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The book starts at the end – an affectation which normally irritates me, if I’m honest, as it feels like lazy writing to hook your reader in at the beginning (Arundhati Roy’s The God of Small Things, trod this path, I seem to remember). However, the initial hook – a murder – proves itself to be not the only thing keeping the writing going, as the characters come to life to tell their stories in the context of the climax.


I’m not going to go into detail as I don’t want to spoil it, but I thought the interwoven relationships, the exploration of the teenage daughter rebelling, the awkwardness of a split family remade elsewhere and the unlikely friendships we find ourselves in, was really interesting.  Beyond the crime, I was thinking a lot about the voices of those characters even after finishing the book.


There were a couple of reveals that came as a surprise, and while I might have pieced it together if I’d tried hard enough, it was really fun for it to come together.


I would recommend this, and I’m probably going to read some more Liane Moriarty too. I’d like to see her books depart from the groove she might be in, judging by the synopses of the next books I’ve read, but only to stretch the writing and learn new things.