Okay, the novel The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins is hugely popular right now and that naturally churned up my curiosity in it. However, it also churned up my skepticism as most “popular” books these days tend to be total shite. Since I’ve been burned too many times by succumbing to my popular-book curiosity, I decided I wouldn’t bother to devote my reading time to this book.
But then my mind was changed on a recent family visit. My dad and stepmom read like maniacs and they tend to make really good choices in their reading material (and they also know a crap book within the first twenty pages). So, when my stepmom started going on about how great The Girl on the Train was and then my dad started going on about how good it was, I thought I’d give the book a chance.
About The Girl on the Train
Rachel is the girl on the train. Actually she’s a woman whose husband left her for another woman a couple years ago. Rachel’s drinking problem (and wow, she does put it away!), has gotten her fired, but she can’t tell her roommate, so instead she pretends to go to work on the train each day as she always has. In her spare time (most of which is spent drunk), Rachel spends her time drunk dialing/texting, stalking her ex-husband, and harassing his new wife.
Part of Rachel daily train ride takes her past the neighborhood in which she used to live with her husband (and where he now lives with Wife #2). As the train pauses each day at this neighborhood, Rachel makes a point to peer in at one of the houses. In this house is a couple that she has created a fantasy world around regarding their perfect marriage and their perfect jobs and their perfect perfection. All this fantasy comes to a halt when she sees the wife kissing another man. Being woman who had been cheated on, Rachel is furious at the wife for being a cheater.
When that wife goes missing on a night when Rachel has blacked out from drinking, Rachel gets involved where she shouldn’t. As she tries to remember the events of that night and how they relate to the woman’s disappearance, she finds herself getting deeper and deeper into lives she shouldn’t be a part of.
How Was It?
OMG! I devoured this book within three days. That’s how good it was. The writing is excellent and the plot has you constantly posing questions about what really happened. The frustration and doubt in Rachel’s mind over her blackout is palpable and you find yourself urging her to remember just as you’re urging her to stop getting more and more involved.
I think one of the best parts of The Girl on the Train (from a writer’s point of view, anyway) is that you really don’t like any of the characters. That’s not to say they’re badly written, they’re just not people you would want in your own life. Rachel’s a drunk who doesn’t know how to get her own life, the wife she sees from the train is flighty, Rachel’s husband’s new wife is a bit of a bitch, even Rachel’s roommate is too desperately attached to her jerk boyfriend. But it’s these flaws that make the book feel so real and the characters so memorable.
So, don’t pass this book up just because it’s popular. It has definitely broken he trend of horrible writing in popular fiction, it’s intriguing, and it weaves together a terrific mystery that you may just solve before the actual reveal (which is always satisfying!).