The Girl on the Train, is by far the best book I have read so far this year. The buzz surrounding this one is worth it. The characters held my interest through the entire fictional thriller novel. Plus I never knew who to trust. Unreliable narrator is used very well here by first time novelist Paula Hawkins. The suspense was maintained through until the end of the book. If this is what Paula Hawkins is capable of in her debut novel, then I can’t wait to read more and I hope she writes fast.
Rachel, Megan and Anna are the three female narrators of the book. Rachel is an overweight alcoholic ex-wife who has lost her job and spends her days riding the commuter train because she hasn’t told her roommate that she has no job. She is, even to herself, slightly distasteful. She knows she wasn’t always so. As she rides the train getting further inebriated, she routinely finds herself imagining the lives of the people inside the houses along the various train stops. She makes up lives and names and she also passes by the home she once shared with Tom, which now houses his new family, wife Anna, and daughter Evie. One day, while riding the train as part of her daily charade she sees something in one of the houses along the train tracks. That sets in motion a bit of a quest.
Rachel can’t seem to stop harassing her ex husband Tom and his new wife Anna. We learn that she leaves him messages often and his wife calls her telling her to stop. We also learn that Rachel one day stopped off at Anna and Tom’s house and in a drunken moment grabbed the baby Evie up and walked away with her. She is unstable and an unreliable narrator to say the least. Anna verges on calling police to report her stalker type behaviour.
Anna is a vain blonde new mother who casts herself as a marriage wrecker. She stole Tom from Rachel and now lives inside the former home that Rachel and Tom once shared. She is not the slightest bit regretful that she took Rachel’s husband for her own and she finds Rachel despicable and appalling. Anna is devoted to her tiny family, loves her husband Tom and gloats somewhat over the fact that she now has her perfect family – the one Rachel tried so hard to give Tom. Did I mention there is an infertility angle here? The infertility subplot is small but important in The Girl on the Train in that we are led to believe it is partly why the couple split up. It is apparently one more reason she drinks.
Megan is a disenchanted wife who works at an art gallery and is a chronic cheater. One day Rachel witnesses Megan embracing someone else inside the home she shares with Scott. Soon thereafter Megan goes missing. There have been many parallels and comparisons to Gone Girl, but I feel the comparisons are overstated actually. Both novels are thrillers and both revolve around a main character that goes missing. Both are page turners too. But the plots are quite different.
Megan eventually turns up dead and the subsequent investigation is one that Rachel somehow insinuates herself in quickly. She, however, is also unreliable because she is a drunk. She continues to drink for most of the book erasing her memories of most things and events by getting sloppy drunk every day. After Megan vanishes Rachel wants to remember the events that transpired the night Megan went missing. She vaguely recalls getting off the train that evening and seeing something. She can’t visualize details though.
Is Megan really dead? Did she just walk away bored with her husband Scott and unable to handle his emotionally controlling temperament. Oh yes and I forgot to mention that Megan at one point also was a nanny for Tom and Anna because they live close by. Megan has throughout the plot been keeping her own secrets. It seems possible she might just have walked away. Who was motivated enough to kill Megan? Is she dead? What is the truth about Scott? Is he a killer? Is Megan’s psychiatrist a killer? Who was sleeping with whom?
The Girl on The Train is more than worth the read. It’s my favourite recent book of all the ones I have read lately. The Girl on The Train is published by Double Day and was released late in 2014 in paperback.