Sunday 12 June 2016

The Girl on the Train - Paula Hawkins

Rachel catches the same commuter train every morning. She knows it will wait at the same signal each time, overlooking a row of back gardens. She’s even started to feel like she knows the people who live in one of the houses. ‘Jess and Jason’, she calls them. Their life – as she sees it – is perfect. If only Rachel could be that happy.

And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough.

Now everything’s changed. Now Rachel has a chance to become a part of the lives she’s only watched from afar.

Now they’ll see; she’s much more than just the girl on the train…

What did I think?

I'm a bit late to the party on this one but, with the volume of books rotating through my family, it was inevitable that my path would cross with The Girl on the Train at some point.  So many thanks to Aunty M for lending it to me.

Rachel is the girl on the train, travelling in and out of London each day passing her old house.  A house she used to live in with her husband, Tom, until Tom met Anna.  As the train stops at the signals, Rachel looks into one of her neighbours homes and sees a loving couple.  It is not long before Rachel conjures up a story about the couple, naming them Jason and Jess.  One day Rachel spots 'Jess' with someone who isn't her husband and is completely devastated that Jason and Jess are not the perfect couple she though they were.  Then when a local woman, Megan Hipwell, is reported missing, Rachel's breath catches in her throat as she sees a photo in the newspaper, because Megan is 'Jess'.

Told from the point of view of the three ladies in the story; Rachel, Anna and Megan, with each voice being so completely and perfectly distinct from the others.  Rachel is an alcoholic and is held together by sticky tape; I thought if she got stuck in a shower she'd become unstuck and fall to pieces.  Anna thinks she's won, going from the other woman to the wife, but she doesn't seem very confident in her relationship and is constantly on the lookout for Rachel so she can complain to Tom.  Megan is so guarded and confused, I felt like she was a shadow of herself and an almost empty shell of a person.  As her story progresses, it becomes clear why I would think this.

I can see why there has been so much excitement about The Girl on the Train; it is written in such a way that it feels like the book is actually talking to you.  Rachel's alcoholism was revealed warts and all, sometimes shockingly so, but it made your heart go out to her. She feels like her life is falling apart and as she rapidly loses control she regularly drinks herself into oblivion.  When Rachel reveals what she knows about Megan's mystery man and his link to her disappearance, her reliability is called into question but Rachel actually knows more than she realises.  If only she hadn't been drunk that night she might have remembered a crucial piece of evidence that is so far remaining agonisingly out of reach.

Never mind The Girl on the Train, I felt like I'd been hit by a train at the end.  I was tootling along nicely grasping at snippets as Rachel remembered them, then BAM! No way!  I totally didn't see it coming and I then questioned everything I'd picked up as the book went along.  A top psychological thriller, The Girl on the Train deserves every accolade that comes its way.  I know that I will be talking and thinking about this one for a long time.  

My rating:

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