The Girl On The Train by 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…
There has been a lot of hype about this book and I usually tend to stay away from books where there is this much hype. I know that I can be influenced one way or another. Generally in the negative towards a book. Don’t ask me why, it’s just something that happens. Or I believe it happens…
As well as the hype, (mostly on Twitter) I’ve read a couple of reviews of the book and it seems to be a bit of a Marmite book because the protagonist isn’t all sweetness and light. She has her flaws and this doesn’t seem to be something readers are used to.
Anyway, this was the third book I read on holiday. Rachel our protagonist is recovering from a divorce and has a problem with alcohol. She likes to look out of the train window on her daily commute and particularly at a certain house. She sees a couple living there; they are often on the veranda area of their home. Rachel has made up names for the couple and by the affection they show each other she has also written their lives out – in her head. This seems to be a form of vicarious living on Rachel’s part.
I see that Rachel has a problem with alcohol, but it doesn’t make me want to stop reading. I’m not irritated by her. I like Hawkins style of writing. It’s clean, uncluttered and factual (for the fictional needs).
The story really starts when Rachel sees something she’s not expecting to see on that veranda, something that shocks her. It’s not enough that we as readers know the whole story, but it’s enough for Rachel to want to do the right thing, but because of her troubled life this isn’t easy. The story follows her trying to do what she thinks will help but often ends up not doing much to help at all and causing more harm to her fragile self-esteem which exacerbates the drinking cycle.
We also have chapters from the viewpoint of other important characters in the story, mixed in with Rachel’s. We have chapters from Megan, the missing woman, from before and leading up to her going missing, and we have chapters from the viewpoint of Rachel’s ex-husband’s new wife, who is not amused by the drunken ex-wife still in their lives.
So, I’m sitting in the middle ground area, I’m not raving about it or hating it, but I will say it’s a really enjoyable crime read and I did want to keep picking it back up to see what happened next. I enjoyed it. I think flawed protagonists are great. Hard work for an author to work with because you need to keep the reader interested but I personally love them. (Note my recent penchant for serial killer novels!) The pace of this book was wonderful. I love alternating chapters, they really work for me and I liked that Rachel wasn’t a do-gooder on a train who wanted to solve the crime like a member of the Scooby Doo gang!
With thanks to the author, publisher and NetGalley for my copy.