Title: The Girl on the Train
Author: Paula Hawkins
Challenges: Reading England 2015
Rating: Three and a half stars out of five
Every morning on her journey to work Rachel watches the couple who live in a house a few doors down from her ex husband. She imagines the life ‘Jess and Jason’ live and how happy they are in their relationship; it is fair to say that she envies them a little bit. But what Rachel doesn’t know is that Megan and Scott are just like any other married couple, they have arguments and make up…and then Megan disappears. Rachel is determined to help and is convinced that she knows something about the disappearance, unfortunately Rachel isn’t the most reliable witness. She is an alcoholic. Her divorce from husband Tom and his subsequent marriage to Anna pushed her into drink and although she knows she was there, on the street Megan, Scott, Tom and Anna live, she doesn’t quite know what she did.
The Girl on the Train has been much talked about this year. It is a physiological thriller meant to fill the void for fans of Gone Girl and has certainly been one of this year’s bestsellers. The narrative flicks between three different female voices and recalls the events leading up to Megan’s disappearance and what happens afterwards as Rachel tries to piece together her part in this mystery. Rachel’s voice is the most prominent throughout and we discover what pushed her into alcoholism and follow her on her journey to recovery; it is Megan’s disappearance and the mystery of this that spurs Rachel into staying sober. We also hear from Megan, who also has a difficult past and Tom’s new wife, Anna, who is struggling to cope with the harrassment a drunk Rachel inflicts on their family. I found all three narrative voices equally engaging and I love this narrative style as it always allows the author a chance to create suspense at the end of each chapter/section and Hawkins certainly does this. I also liked how we would discover snippets of information about each character’s life throughout the novel, meaning there was always some tension.
I am usually pretty rubbish at solving any kind of mystery or who dunnit in films, TV dramas or novels, but I was pretty quick in figuring out the ending of The Girl on the Train. Now this doesn’t mean it was a bad ending, it’s just that maybe it was a little bit too predictable for me. I found that as soon as I had put the pieces together I was hoping to get to the end sooner, not only to prove myself right but just because I was ready for the end. I certainly love the inspiration behind the novel and I myself love sitting on trains and imagining the lives of people we whizz past, but I just felt this novel needed a little bit more. That being said it was a great form of escapism from every day life and I can see why it has been so popular.