My first read for October was a book that needs little introduction. Since its publication in January 2015 Paula Hawkins’s debut thriller, The Girl On The Train has been a bestseller around the world and a film adaptation has recently been released. So after spending the last few months on my TBR I decided it was time to find out what all the hype was about!
‘Sometimes, not often, I can see them from this side of the track. If there’s no train going in the opposite direction, and if we’re going slowly enough, I can sometimes catch a glimpse of them out on their terrace. If not – like today – I can imagine them.’
Every day Rachel gets the same train which takes her past a place that has a hold over her. As her train stops at the same signal each day, she gets a glimpse into the houses, a glimpse into another person’s life. She becomes obsessed with one of the houses in particular and the couple who live there. She gives them names – Jess and Jason – gives them occupations, likes and dislikes. The life she imagines for Jess and Jason is not far from perfect, but one day she sees something from the train which leaves her shocked, and she begins to question everything she thought she knew about them. From this point a fragile Rachel is pulled into their lives, and finds herself in the midst of shocking events as they begin to spiral out of control. And for a woman whose life was already beginning to derail, this has the potential to be very dangerous indeed…
‘My heart was fluttering like a trapped bird. I couldn’t speak, because all I could see at that moment was myself, slouched in the underpass, blood on my hands. Blood on my hands. Mine, surely?’
The narrative alternates between Rachel’s perspective and that of two other women who are at the heart of the novels surprising events. All of these women, and most of their male counterparts for that matter, are flawed, largely unlikeable characters. As the story begins to unfold we see the tangled web of lies, infidelity and deceit surrounding these characters and the events Rachel witnessed. Rachel in particular is an unreliable narrator. Following the breakdown of her relationship she turns to alcohol, so it is clear that Rachel is feeling deeply troubled and her drink habit could prove to be detrimental to her state of mind and her wellbeing. Rachel struggles to process what she has seen and heard, and finds it difficult to establish the facts when she cannot remember where she has been, or what she has done herself. But Rachel wasn’t the only one fighting her demons; all the key characters have done things in the past that haunt them, things that made me question their nature, and what they might be capable of. This made for a gripping read, and I was kept guessing throughout wondering how the story would develop, and there were a few surprises along the way building up to a tense conclusion.
‘I’m connected. I am no longer just a girl on the train, going back and forth without point or purpose.’
It is easy to see why The Girl On The Train has been such a success. It is a tense, gripping thriller packed with twists, turns and unreliable characters. I was hooked by Rachel’s story, and enjoyed discovering her disturbing journey.